NYC might be a big city of big buildings…
But sometimes the most fascinating are the smaller ones you walk right past. Take the Lower East Side’s Tenement Museum; you might not guess it, but this unassuming tenement on 97 Orchard Street houses a veritable time capsule of urban living, a trove of domestic artifacts from between the 1860s and 1930s—plus innumerable stories of the many immigrants who lived within these walls. Right now, the Tenement Museum is pivoting to keep telling these stories, here’s how they’re doing it.
Virtual Tours of the Tenement Museum
In usual times, the museum—an easy 15-minute walk from the condos at One Manhattan Square—invites visitors through its doors to explore rooms recreated to appear just as they would have when occupied by past residents, decades and centuries ago. Currently, you can do the next best thing: sign up for one of their virtual tours. Call into the humble abode of the Moores in the 1860s to see how Irish immigrants lived and the discrimination they would have faced. Meet the Schneiders, who’ll tell you about their lager beer saloon business—and ask them questions about the Little Germany community. Travel to the 1930s and the home of the Italian Baldizzi family, who are struggling their way through the Great Depression. Meanwhile, the Rogarshevsky tour will introduce you to a Jewish American family in the early 20th century. All these tours are performed live and scattered with prerecorded video, audio, and images—an interactive and rewarding experience. And if you’re looking to host a holiday get-together with a difference, book one of the Tenement Museum’s private virtual tours—which can also be festively themed.
Neighborhood Walking Tours
Want to get out of your condo and explore the Lower East Side’s history by foot? The Tenement Museum is also hosting walking tours of the neighborhood on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. On the “Outside the Home” tour, you’ll witness how Lower East Siders shaped their neighborhood over time with public parks, movie theaters, the Jarmulowsky Bank Building (where early immigrants could hold a savings account) and Seward Park—home to the USA’s first municipal playground. The “Building on the Lower East Side” tour teaches you what kinds of houses would have stood here before the tenements arose—and takes you to one of the oldest structures around. As with the virtual tours, you can also book private walking tours: ideal for festive family meet-ups or even as unique gifts.
All of the above should keep the most historically inclined New Yorker sated until the Tenement Museum reopens.