Happy Independence Day!
July 2, 2013

Happy Independence Day from the Tenement Museum!

Fireworks over the Brooklyn Bridge; Photo courtesy The New York Times.

Tomorrow marks the 237th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence (well, technically July 2nd did, but who’s counting?). As an idea and as a place, the United States has meant a lot of things to a lot of different people. But the American Dream still remains; to be free from the oppression of others, to care for one another, and to make life better for yourself and for your family. And while it seems that often the residents of 97 Orchard did not achieve the physical or monetary signifiers of success in America, they certainly kept the American Dream alive and helped to create millions of new ones.

Josepine Baldizzi, who lived at 97 Orchard in the 1930’s, said of her parents, Italian immigrants, “They came here actually believing that this was the land of opportunity and that they were going to make it here… ‘Til the day they died I never heard them complain once. They loved America.” In her oral history that she left for the Museum, she described one time when her mother returned to New York City after visiting family in Italy, “she got out of the cab and she kissed the ground.”

Josephine and Johnny Baldizzi on the roof of 97 Orchard on a summer day

Another reason to celebrate tomorrow is the reopening of Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty after months of restoration after Hurricane Sandy! The storm raised the water level on Liberty Island by eight feet, and swamped boilers and electrical systems, but thankfully left the Statue unharmed, as it sits on higher ground. (Ellis Island sustained more damage than Liberty Island and will remained closed.)

The damage to Liberty Island after Hurricane Sandy. Photo courtesy of the LA Times.

So have a hot dog (or veggie dog) and watch the fireworks over the Hudson – and if you’re not in New York City, enjoy the fireworks here.

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

– Posted by Lib Tietjen