New York City was once the destination of choice for a river of immigrants. The Lower East Side Tenement Museum explores their stories with guided tours of restored apartments from a number of eras. Economic distress, making a living, accommodating a new stream of immigrants and the developing architecture of the building itself all make fascinating tours.
In addition to the apartment tours, the museum also offers walking tours of the Lower East Side. Knowledgeable guides explain the significance of buildings like the Jarmulowsky Bank, PS 42 and the Daily Forward, a center of socialist activity aimed at improving the working lives of immigrants. The gift shop at the Tenement Museum is particularly outstanding. Its wide variety of local-emphasis books and souvenirs make wonderful gifts.
The new Shop Life tour follows changes in the neighborhood from the viewpoint of a Depression-era auctioneer, a kosher butcher, German saloon keepers and an underwear discounter. Another popular tour explores the cuisine of the area. From dumplings to cream puffs, participants experience the relationship of food to culture and learn about the culinary influence of the immigrant population.
The museum offers programs focusing on education at all levels. From curriculum-based programs for local students to teacher training to internships for college students, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum is committed to helping students understand the immigrant experience.