The Lower East Side is a living portrait of American culture and history, a treasure trove of stories past and present. Luckily for the neighborhood and the residents of Extell Development’s One Manhattan Square condos, the Tenement Museum has gathered some of this history and brought it to life. The museum is a place that tells the stories of immigrants living on the Lower East Side in its historically restored tenement buildings and in the streets of the neighborhood itself. The building and walking tours uncover the Lower East Side of the past and the immigrant experience that has in so many ways shaped the identity of New York City.
Building tours at the museum are largely based on real stories from the lives of actual immigrants. “Hard Times: 1880s” takes you inside the home of Natalie Gumpertz, a German immigrant who lived with her daughters above the saloon run by John and Caroline Schneider. There are also two “Day in the Life” tours that take you inside the routines of families from 1911 and 1933, the first a European Jewish family and the second a family from Italy.
The “Tenement Women: 1902” tour introduces you to Jennie Levine, a Jewish immigrant whose husband ran a garment business out of their living room. The tour describes the kosher meat strike that was spearheaded by local Jewish women responding to a price hike that would have made it that much harder for them to feed their families. It’s one of the many stories of Lower East Siders organizing and fighting for their rights in a new world where they were not often guaranteed.
One of the newest tours on offer is the Reclaiming Black Spaces tour, which covers the Black immigrant experience on the Lower East Side from as far back as the 1640s, with the story of Sebastiaen de Britto—one of the neighborhood’s first Black residents, to the firehouse of the first Black lieutenant of the FDNY, a musicians’ collective from the 1970s called “Studio We,” and a former African American burial ground that is now a community garden.
The recreated spaces inside the buildings were crafted with historical attention to detail and put you in intimate contact with the way light would have looked pouring onto a clacking sewing machine through a tenement window or what it would have been like to take a bath in 1916. The walking tours show you hidden gems you will want to return to and will superimpose on your own 2021 map of the neighborhood a map of the people from all over the world who built the Lower East Side.
The Tenement Museum is just one of the Lower East Side institutions that enrich the lives of people living at One Manhattan Square. Contact our team to learn how you can find your new home at this vibrant intersection of backgrounds and cultures.