Exhibits at the Tenement Museum

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IN JULY 2017, the Tenement Museum will open a new exhibit featuring the stories of the immigrants who started their lives anew on Orchard Street in the decades after World War II and helped to make the Lower East Side one of New York's most diverse neighborhoods. Hear the stories of former resident Bella Epstein, whose parents survived the Holocaust; Jose Velez, whose seamstress mother left Puerto Rico for new opportunities; and the Wong sisters, whose mother sewed in the Chinatown garment shops.

Take the Virtual Tour Exhibit Timeline
103 Families Preview Watch the Preview

THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Post World War II, the Lower East Side's changing immigrant communities reflected a shift in policies that were taking shape on the national level. The Johnson Reed Act of 1924, which restricted European migration, contributed to the Lower East Side's diminishing Jewish community, but the United States opened its doors again in 1945 to welcome 140,000 Jewish refugees. Chinese immigrants began to move in after the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943. Also during this period, the war effort and postwar economic policies caused a boom in manufacturing jobs, attracting Puerto Rican migrants to the city. The Lower East Side soon became a bustling neighborhood on the periphery of two emerging immigrant enclaves: Chinatown and Loisaida.

THE BUILDING

For More Than 20 Years, the Tenement Museum has told the stories of immigrants who lived at 97 Orchard Street. While the building closed its doors to residents in 1935, the neighborhood continued to welcome newcomers in search of opportunity. In 2017, the Museum will open a new exhibit at 103 Orchard Street, in the same landmarked building that houses the Visitor Center and Museum Shop.


Built in 1888, 103 Orchard Street was originally three separate tenements. The building became a corner unit when the north side of the block was demolished in order to create an approach to the newly-built Williamsburg Bridge. In 1913, the front side of the three buildings merged, while the back of the buildings were demolished to make space for a new bank headquarters. Over its 127 years as a residence, 103 Orchard Street housed more than 10,000 people. The new exhibit will tell three families' stories.

Your Story, Our Story

Help us tell the story of today's immigrants by sharing your own family history. Your Story, Our Story is a new interactive exhibit that allows you to be a part of the contemporary immigrant story.

Tell Your Story
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103 Orchard Preview from Tenement Museum on Vimeo.