Tenement Museum Announces $8 Million Expansion

Reverend Jen Writes About Firing From Tenement Museum

Tenement Museum, 97 Orchard St.

Tenement Museum, 97 Orchard St.

Longtime Lower East Side performance artist and author, Jen Miller, is going public after being fired by the Tenement MuseumOn her blog, Rev. Jen recounts the events of the past week:

On Tuesday I was fired from the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. I had worked there since 2001, was there on the morning of 9-11 and was an incredibly dedicated employee. During my employment there, I worked part-time (approximately 30 hours a week) and never received health insurance or even a sick day.

At the Tenement Museum, 15 People Become New U.S. Citizens

tenement museum 4

15 new Americans took the Oath of Allegiance at the Tenement Museum.

At the Tenement Museum yesterday afternoon, a naturalization ceremony was held for 15 new American citizens. The U.S. Department of Citizenship & Immigration Services chose the Lower East Side setting.  Judge Robert Katzmann administered the Oath of Allegiance to immigrants from 13 countries: China, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Spain and Uruguay.  Last year, about 84,000 people became new American citizens in New York.

Tenement Museum’s New Shop Life Tour Connects Past and Present

The facade at 97 Orchard Street, home of the Tenement Museum’s new “Shop Life” tour. Photo by Keiko Niwa, courtesy of the Tenement Museum.

If you’re looking for a fun holiday activity to do with friends or family visiting from out of town, “Shop Life,” the Tenement Museum‘s new interactive tour is an interesting way to spend a few hours. It examines the stories of business owners who lived and worked at 97 Orchard Street from 1863 to 1988.

The tour begins in a re-creation of John and Caroline Schneider’s 19th century beer saloon and community gathering spot, the Schneider Saloon. Visitors explore the dining room, kitchen and private quarters of the Schneider family, who lived behind the saloon. A vivid recreation of what life was like in “Little Germany” is presented with news clippings, photos, furniture, food and other items from the time period.

Rebecca Lepkoff, 96, Opens Tenement Museum Show

Rebecca Lepkoff at her apartment in Washington Heights. Photo by Tobi Elkin

Editor’s note: Tomorrow night, the Tenement Museum will be hosting an opening reception for Rebecca Lepkoff’s “Life on the Lower East Side,” photographs from 1937-1950.  Last October, we interviewed Lepkoff in advance of a remarkable group show at the Jewish Museum.  Today we’re re-posting that story.

Photographer Rebecca Lepkoff recalls a time when the streets of the Lower East Side were like a theater. “There was always something happening… life took place on the street,” she says.

Lepkoff, 96, grew up in a tenement at 60 Hester St. that no longer exists, and was always fascinated with the streets of her youth. Her black and white photographs depict scenes from a neighborhood that has all but vanished—girls skipping rope in the street; people gathered in front of the Loew’s Canal theater before a show; stoop-sitting and sharing gossip; women hanging laundry on clotheslines strung between buildings.

Lepkoff’s photographs have appeared in numerous galleries and museum shows as well as in A History of Women Photographers by Naomi Rosenblum; Bystander: A History of Street Photography by Joel Meyerowitz and Colin Westerbeck; Street Gangs by Sandra Gardiner and Life on the Lower East Side: Photographs by Rebecca Lepkoff, 1937-1950 by Peter Dans and Suzanne Wasserman. Watch a slideshow we prepared, highlighting some of some of her work by clicking on this link (the photos are courtesy of the Howard Greenberg Gallery).

Delancey Underground Plans Kickstarter Campaign; Tenement Museum Event Scheduled February 16

Architectural rendering courtesy: RAAD Studio/James Ramsey.

The Delancey Underground, that intriguing proposal to build a park in an abandoned trolley station, hasn’t exactly kept a low profile since its unveiling last fall. But in the coming weeks you’re going to be hearing a lot more from co-founders Dan Barasch and James Ramsey about their drive to build public support and to raise money for the ambitious project.

As Curbed reported yesterday, they’ll soon launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund a large-scale demonstration of the “sunlight irrigation system” Ramsey is designing to transmit natural light into the subterranean space.

Yesterday we checked in with Barasch, who told us he hopes the fundraising effort will have a true grass roots spirit. The Delancey Underground team has placed a high priority on community engagement and is very focused on winning the support of all kinds of neighborhood organizations as well as individuals from all walks of life. You can see the growing list of supporters on their web site. Among the high profile backers: Morris Vogel, president of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.

Eliot Spitzer at Tenement Museum Tomorrow Night

If you’re planning on attending “Tenement Talks” at the Tenement Museum tomorrow night, you will want to get there early. There will likely be a big crowd on hand to listen to former Governor Eliot Spitzer. He’ll be appearing alongside Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein of Pro Publica about their Pulitzer Prize winning investigation of the “Wall Street Money Machine.”  The event gets started at 6:30 p.m.

Local Purveyors Recreate 1800′s Saloons’ “Free Lunch”

The Tenement Museum will host a special tasting tour on Tuesday evening, inspired by the old saloon tradition of  offering a “free lunch” with the purchase of a beer. Jane Ziegelman, the author of 97 Orchard Street, will discuss the types of food that typically “fed the patrons at historic Gotham saloons.” Edible Manhattan teams up with the Brooklyn Brewery and local purveyors to recreate the lunch offerings: smoked herring, pickled oysters, ham, pretzels, rye bread and sausage. A building tour is included. $25 // 6:30pm // 108 Orchard Street.

A Week to Remember the Triangle Fire

On Friday, New Yorkers will pause to remember the 146 people who perished in the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in Greenwich Village 100 years ago.  But commemorations have actually been taking place for several days. On Sunday, the Henry Street Settlement held a tea and reception in memory of the fire victims — and to reflect on the changes that have occurred in the labor movement during the past century.

Tenement Talks: Bowery – Past, Present and Future with David Mulkins

Bowery Photographs by Photographer Sally Young via boweryalliance.org

David Mulkins, co-founder and chair of the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, will be at the Tenement Museum tomorrow evening for an “illustrated talk on the legendary street,” and a discussion titled: Bowery – Past, Present and Future. The Bowery Alliance was created three years ago to promote preservation of the historic character of the Bowery. 

Tenement Talks: Eric Homberger’s Historical Atlas of New York City

Author and historian Eric Homberger will be on hand to discuss his book, The Historical Atlas of New York City – A Visual Celebration of Nearly 400 Years of New York’s History (Second Edition), this evening at the Tenement Museum as part of their Tenement Talks series. Currently an American studies professor at the University of East Anglia, the author has earned bragging rites for this book as the Tenement Museum’s #1 bestselling book on New York.  FREE // 6:30p // 108 Orchard Street.

Songs From the East Village Release Party at Tenement Talks Tonight

The East Village Community School will be celebrating the release of their album, Songs From the East Village this evening at the Tenement Museum.  The album is a very creative way to raise money for the school, combining the talents of some of the parents  (including accomplished singer and musician Susan McKeown, who oversaw the production) and children from the school.

(Edible) Tenement Talks: Dumplings Made in NYC

Tomorrow night’s Tenement Talk, Dumplings: Made in NYC with Jayne Cohen, Tom Birchard & Kenny Lao Moderated by Wai Chu, is already making me hungry. Jayne Cohen, author of Jewish Holiday Cooking, Tom Birchard, owner of Veselka, and Kenny Lao (co-founder of Rickshaw Dumpling Cart) will talk with chef Wai Hon Chu about dumplings.  The edible part? Expect to find Rickshaw parked outside. // FREE // 6:30p // 108 Orchard St.

“Next Steps” at the Tenement Museum

We all know the one constant on the Lower East Side is change. Decade after decade, each emerging immigrant group has  refashioned the neighborhood to suit its needs. If you walk up Chrystie Street towards Delancey, you’ll see visual evidence of this phenomenon on the exterior of Templo Adventista del Septimo (the Seventh Day Adventist Church). A Star of David is still visible behind the large cross in the center of the facade, an indication of the building’s former life as a synagogue.

The building is one of the featured stops on the Lower East Side Tenement Museum’s new walking tour, “Next Steps,” an exploration of our neighborhood post-1935. Recently we were invited to tag along, during a special version of the tour led by Annie Polland (VP of Education) and Dave Favaloro (Director of Curatorial Affairs).

Mother’s Day on the L.E.S.

Here are a few ways to celebrate Mother’s Day on the L.E.S. this weekend:


The movie, Babies, opens this weekend at the Sunshine Cinema and their Rattle & Reel series will offer a bonus screening on Mother’s Day at 11:30am. The documentary simultaneously follows four babies around the world—from birth to first steps: