It was a once a year event — cameras were allowed inside the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.
From the Tenement Museum website: “We tell the stories of 97 Orchard Street. Built on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1863, this tenement apartment building was home to nearly 7000 working class immigrants.”
As the docent guided us through the building, the other participants were fascinated by how much has changed in the hundred years since my own grandmother lived on the Lower East Side, working in the garment industry. There have been breakthroughs in technology, advances in sanitation, and regulations that better protect conditions at work and home.
But as we heard stories about those who lived here, a past generation’s hopes for success, love, and health, I thought about my own life, still living in a small New York City apartment, dealing with making money and work, and using an electronic dating app like Tinder as a modern-day Yentl the Matchmaker.
I understood that most basic human needs are still the same.