(Tenement Street Scene, Early 1900’s)
Viewing the city from afar, as an observer is one experience. Viewing the city through the lens of a building is another, especially one which has seen so many lives pass through its doors. This building of note is the New York Tenement Museum on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. For those seeking connections to their past, or are curious about their roots, it is quite an attraction to behold. Wooden staircases trodden through the years, peeling wallpaper with the signatures of their prior occupants signify stories of hardship and the immigrant settlement experience. They are layers which can be peeled back like traceries, connecting the dots of one’s own histories.
(The location of the Tenement Museum is 103 and 97 Orchard Street)
Walking down Orchard Street where the Tenement Museum is located, one can see so many windows of the facades looking out at the bustling city passing by. These windows are virtually the same as they were one hundred years ago, viewfinders unto an urban past. It’s fascinating how some buildings and places remain as they once were, while other buildings & places have not met the same fate. Adjoining City blocks are visually empty of the tenements that once stood, a testament to the renewal projects which sought to wipe them clean of their eventual scourge.
The histories of the people who once lived here are contained behind the windows, within the tenement facades. They exist between the rafters and the floorboards, behind the layers of peeling wallpaper. They exist within the imagination of the viewer.
Links of relatable note and information on the Museum can be found here: