Essex, Eldridge, Delancey, Orchard. These New York City street names are evocative of pushcarts, pickles, and people—lots and lots of people. The Lower East Side is still a vibrant immigrant community, though now most signage is in Chinese rather than the English, Yiddish, or German as seen a century ago.
On September 30th, JCC Manhattan offered an excursion to the Lower East Side—one of many interesting trips scheduled throughout the year. This walking tour was led by an extremely knowledgeable guide provided by the Tenement Museum. She offered insight into the waves of immigration, starting with Germans in the early 1800s. Prior to that time, most dwellings in the neighborhood were single family stand alone buildings. As early waves of German immigrants flooded the area, there was not enough housing available. Enter the tenement, which was defined as a dwelling that housed at least three separate families, each with its own kitchen, outhouse in the back, no running water, and no heat.
These were the very first apartments in New York City. 103 Orchard Street, the tenement that today houses the museum, had 7,000 people pass through in a period of about 70 years. If you would like to take a tour of the museum or schedule a walking tour, you can do so online at tenement.org.
Want to know what other outings JCC Manhattan has coming up this season? Visit jccmanhattan.org for more information.
As we progressed through our tour, I started to wonder what kinds of excursions and trips might interest our Engage volunteers. Would people like Engage to organize an occasional informal excursion of particular interest to the group? Last spring, many of you indicated you would be interested in more far-reaching trips to Europe or Israel with a focus on particular issues and/or interests of the Engage community. Please let us know what you think by posting your comments below this article. We would love to hear from you.