Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Top choice museum in East Village & Lower East Side

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This museum puts the neighborhood’s heartbreaking but inspiring heritage on full display in three re-created turn-of-the-20th-century tenement apartments, including the late-19th-century home and garment shop of the Levine family from Poland, and two immigrant dwellings from the Great Depressions of 1873 and 1929. Visits to the tenement building are available only as part of scheduled guided tours, with many departures each day.

In addition to the 'Hard Times' tour that visits the three tenements, the museum also runs various other tours: 'Sweatshop Workers' illuminates life among garment workers and the balance between the job, family life and religion. 'Irish Outsiders' visits the restored home of Irish immigrants who dealt with the death of a child in the 1800s. You can have a more interactive experience with 'Meet Victoria Confino,' which gives a first-hand glimpse of life in a tenement as related by a 14-year-old Italian immigrant (played by a costumed interpreter, of course); it's the only tour appropriate for children (age six and up). There are also neighborhood walking tours, food tours, special evening tours on Thursday nights and new tours added occasionally, so make sure to check the website.

The visitor center shows a video detailing the difficult life endured by the people who once lived in the surrounding buildings, which more often than not had no running water or electricity. Reserve tickets ahead online – popular tours sell out in advance.