Discover the history of New York City at The Tenement Museum

If you want to discover a part of the history of New York, visit the Tenement Museum. It’s a very interesting museum, with tour guides. As a matter of fact, you need to book in advance to visit it. For a sneak peek, read my post:

What does the Tenement Museum offer?

The Tenement Museum is very special, you can’t visit it by yourself. Actually, you need to book a guided tour that is about 1 to 2 hours long.
It lets you visit the places where the inhabitants of the area lived in the 1870s and 1940s, and more specifically the “Tenement” building, one of the first buildings ever built in the neighborhood.
There are also visits of the neighborhood where you can meet with an actress who plays the role of a local resident.

History of the inhabitants of Lower East Side

By the end of the 19th century, a majority of immigrants lived and worked in the Lower East Side, mainly on Orchard Street and Broome Streets.

If in 2000, 37% of the population were immigrants, they represented 41% in 1910.

In the 19th century, immigrants were mostly from Germany, and then in the early 20th century, many Jewish people arrived. Therefore, it became the world’s largest Jewish community.

What are the tours of the Tenement Museum?

Shop Life
Where? On the first floor of the building
What is it about? Visit an old family-owned store at 97 Orchard St. You’ll learn the history of this German store belonging to John and Caroline Schneider, and the daily life of the families from 1870.
Duration: 1h30.
Admission: $27 for adults and $22 for seniors, students, college.
Recommended age? + 12 years old.

Sweatshop Workers

Where? 3rd floor of the building
What is it about? Visit the tailoring workshop of the Levine family and the small apartments. Here they lived and worked.
Duration: 1h00.
Admission: $27 for adults and $22 for seniors, students, college.
Recommended age? + 8 years old.

Hard Times

Where? 2nd floor of the building.
What is it about? Discover how immigrants survived the economic crisis between 1863 and 1935. In addition, visit the restored houses of the Gumpertz, a German Jewish family whose patriarch died in 1873, and the Baldizi an Italian Catholic family, who lived the crisis of 1929.
Duration: 1h00.
Admission: $27 for adults and $22 for seniors, students, college.
Recommended age? + 8 years old.

Irish Outsiders

Where? On the 4th floor of the building.
What is it about? Discover the saga of immigrants through Irish music in America and visit the apartment of the Moore family. There you will understand why the Irish Catholic immigrants had left their homes in the Lower East Side (called Five Points) to start a new life in Kleindeutschland (Little Italy) in East Village.
Duration: 1h00.
Admission: $27 for adults and $22 for seniors, students, college.
Recommended age? + 12 years old.

Sweatshop Workers – Visit and discussion/debate
Where? 3rd floor of the building
What is it about? Visit the restored homes of the families and participate in a discussion on issues related to this tour. You can share your experience, ideas and stories with other visitors.
Duration: 2h00.
Admission: USD $27 for adults and $22 for seniors, students, college.
Recommended age? + 12 years old./p>

Hard Times – Visit and discussion/debate

Where? 2nd floor of the building.
What is it about? Visit the restored houses of the Gumpertz and Baldizi family, and participate in a discussion on issues related to the visit. You can share yourexperience, ideas and stories with his family and other visitors.
Duration: 2h00.
Admission: $27 for adults and $22 for seniors, students, college.
Recommended age? + 12 years old.

Exploring 97 Orchard Street
Where? 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th floor of the building.
What is it about? Visit the Tenement Museum to explore the history, and the life of the tenants and the work of the urban archaeologists to learn the history of the building.
Duration: 1h30.
Admission: USD $27 for adults and $22 for seniors, students, college.
Recommended age? + 12 years old.

Are there more interactive visits?

Where? 3rd floor of the building.

What is it about?Visit the apartment of a Greek Sephardi family and find an actress who plays the role of Victoria Confino. She was a 14-year-old girl who lived in the Tenement in 1916. You may ask questions about how life was at this time. This attraction / visit is perfect for families and allows you to see the objects used during that time. It is an ideal activity for children.
Duration: 1h00.
Admission: $27 for adults and $22 for seniors, students, college.
Recommended age? + 5 years old.

Are there guided tours of the neighborhood?

Storefront Stories

What is it about? For over a century, Orchard Street was the heart of Lower East Side. Discover this dynamic community comparing the experiences of immigrant entrepreneurs of the past and present. Visit the shops and galleries of Eckstein in which generations of New Yorkers bought clothes at a good price.
Duration: 1h15.
Admission: $27 for adults and $22 for seniors, students, college.
Recommended age? + 8 years old.

Foods of the Lower East Side
What is it about? Dumpling, fried bananas… discover the food of immigrants and see how these ingredients have become indispensable in the kitchen.
Duration: 2h00.
Admission: $45 for adults and $40 for seniors, students, college.
Recommended age? + 8 years old.

Outside the Home

What is it about? Look at the Lower East Side of Manhattan through the eyes of immigrants living there for 150 years. Discover the Jarmulowsky Bank building where the immigrants left their savings. You can also see the Daily Forward building, in which the Socialists fought for the rights of workers, and PS 42 where generations of immigrants learned to “be Americans.”
Duration: 1h30.
Admission: $27 for adults and $22 for seniors, students, college.
Recommended age? + 8 years old.

Then & Now

What is it about? For many immigrants, the Lower East Side was not only a district to find an apartment in New York, but it was also the place where they could learn how to start a business, and educate their children … discover the history of this neighborhood.
Duration: 2h00.
Admission: $27 for adults and $22 for seniors, students, college.
Recommended age? + 8 years old.

Should you book to visit Tenement Museum?

It’s recommended to book your tickets here with at least 2-3 weeks in advance.

Plan your visit

In what language are the tours given?

All visits are in English. If you do not understand English well, it could be difficult to follow the guide’s instructions.
However, it’s possible to ask for summary sheets in Spanish, Italian and French at the ticket booth.

How many people can be in a group per tour?

Each tour has a maximum capacity of 12 people. There can’t be more people because the visiting rooms are very small.

What is the most recommended visit?

Each visit is unique and it’s a nice time discovering how immigrants lived at this time.
I cannot recommend a specific tour. I encourage you to try all visits, or you can choose what interests you more.
I decided to visit the Sweatshop Workers tour because I was interested in seeing how they worked during that time. But also I wanted to visit the Hard Times Life Shop.
With children under 6 years, the encounter with Victoria Confino can be a very interesting experience.

Can you take pictures of the interior?

No. Just before the tour started, we had to leave our belongings in a locker.
The photos in this article were taken outside and on my Smartphone, as the following picture, a traditional bathrooms: D

Is the Tenement Museum accessible?

Inside the building visitors may only access visit Tour Shop Life in a wheel chair.
There is no wheelchair access in the building the stairs are very narrow and there are no elevators 🙁
It is possible to make visits on the street in a wheelchair outside. However the number of places is limited.
Guided tours can be arranged for groups.
Check the accessible options at the Tenement Museum here.

The Tenement Museum shop

If you can’t visit the Tenement Museum, at least you should go to the gift shop where you will find many books on the history of New York, and many different souvenirs.

What more can you see at the Tenement Museum?

There are many events organized in the Tenement Museum, lectures, debates, films…
The whole program is here: www.tenement.org

Where is the Tenement Museum?

The Tenement Museum is located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a block away from the tattoo shop Grit & Glory.
Address: 103 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002.
Website: www.tenement.org.

Conclusion

If it’s not your first time in New York City, I strongly recommend the visit of the Tenement Museum. You’ll know more about the first inhabitants of Manhattan, it’s a very interesting piece of history.

Memo

My fist trip to New York was in 2007 when I was working for an airline company. I was born in the US, I lived in Mexico, in Europe in between Belgium, Spain and France… Well, let’s say I know about travelling! I bring my experience of NYC to the blog, to provide the best travel tips you could imagine!

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