The Tenement Museum preserves and interprets the history of immigration through the personal experiences of the generations of newcomers who settled in and built lives on Manhattan's Lower East Side, America's iconic immigrant neighborhood; forges emotional connections between visitors and immigrants past and present; and enhances appreciation for the profound role immigration has played and continues to play in shaping America's evolving national identity.
A historian and social activist, Ruth Abram wanted to build a museum that honored America's immigrants.
New York's tenements were the perfect place for her museum: these humble, multiple family buildings were the first American homes for thousands of immigrants.
But the search for a tenement proved frustrating. By 1988, Abram and co-founder Anita Jacobson were nearly ready to give up.
Then they stumbled upon the tenement at 97 Orchard Street.
Inside 97 Orchard, visitors take guided tours of apartments that recreate immigrant life in the 19th and 20th centuries. Along with a glimpse of the past, tours offer insights into current debates about immigration and public health.
Neighborhood Walking Tours
Visitors go beyond the walls of 97 Orchard Street to explore the neighborhood and continue the immigrant story. In combination with tenement tours, walking tours explore how life was for immigrants on the Lower East Side and how the neighborhood changed.
Teaching Immigrant Experiences
Each year, 44,000 students visit the Museum to learn about immigration and New York City. We also run ESOL workshops that use tenement history to teach English to today's immigrants.