Lower East Side Tenement National Historic Site

Lower East Side Tenement National Historic Site

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Lower East Side Tenement National Historic Site

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Lower East Side Tenement National Historic Site is a five-story brick tenement building that was home to an estimated 7,000 people, from over 20 nations, between 1863 and 1935. This building, located at 97 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan in New York, is owned by the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, which promotes tolerance and historical perspective on the immigrant experience.


The structure was contracted by Prussian-born immigrant Lukas Glockner in 1863 and was modified several times to conform with the city's developing housing laws. When first constructed, it contained 22 apartments and a basement level saloon. Over time, four stoop-level and two basement apartments were converted into commercial retail space, leaving 16 apartments in the building. Modifications over the years included the installation of indoor plumbing, cold running water, two toilets per floor, an air shaft, and gas followed by electricity. In 1935, rather than continue to modify the building, the landlord evicted the residents, boarded the upper windows, and sealed the upper floors, leaving only the stoop-level and basement storefronts open for business. No further changes were made until the Lower East Side Tenement Museum became involved with the building in 1988. As such, the building stands as a kind of time capsule, reflecting 19th and early 20th century living conditions and the changing notions of what constitutes acceptable housing.

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