The ALANYC Diversity & Inclusion Committee sponsored a field trip to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum for a private guided tour on November 3rd. The Shop Life tour we took was fascinating, juxtaposing a recreated beer hall circa 1860’s with high-tech, interactive displays that allowed individual explorations of the objects, sights, and sounds of the real shops that occupied the commercial space through the 1970’s. These included a kosher butcher and an auction house. We had a great turnout and were well-handled by two dedicated guides who wove stories to evoke the socio-political fabric of various time periods. Several of us went on to a local restaurant to continue the discussion about NYC immigration and our personal histories.
Located at 97 Orchard Street, the museum recreates actual residential and commercial spaces in various areas of the building. Visitors can choose one of five different guided tours per visit. While we focused on the retail spaces, other tours take visitors to restored apartments set up in various periods of history that reflect the waves of NYC immigration, including Irish, German and Italian tenants.
The museum is a labyrinthine time capsule which invites multiple visits to step back in time and trace the paths through the history of a few of the over 7,000 immigrants it has housed. For more information, visit www.tenement.org. Everyone on tour was impressed by the experience, so we’re considering setting up another appointment to take a different tour in 2017. See you then! Matt Frederick