I was thrilled to be able to stay in a real tenement in New York earlier this month. However, I purchased the book, How the Other Half Lives, by Jacob A. Riis, at the Tenement Museum, and found how sad life in these buildings really was. I almost did not buy the book after glancing at the photos he took over 100 years ago to illustrate his points. The filth and poverty is unimaginable. The Blue Moon Hotel is built in a "newer" tenement, dating from 1879. There had been reforms by then, the most important was providing air ducts into the bedrooms. I realized my hotel room had two of these, one in the now shower. Here is the other:
So my room would have had two small bedrooms and a living room/kitchen that looked out on Orchard Street. The beam in the ceiling is likely the divider between these. The "inside" windows may have let in a bit of stale air and virtually no light, but this was an improvement on the closets which served as bedrooms in the older buildings that had no air or light.
History can be very sad, and thinking about the lives of immigrants who came to this country with high hopes of escaping poverty and starvation, only to live in these conditions is heartbreaking. It is no wonder some turned to lives of crime, and it is no wonder children died at such a high rate.
Friday, October 31, 2014
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Staying in a Tenement
Last weekend I was an exhibitor at The Genealogy Event in Lower Manhattan. I needed a place to stay, and while searching for a hotel I ran across the Blue Moon Hotel in the Lower East Side. Built in an old tenement building and directly across the street from the Tenement Museum on Orchard Street, I knew this was the dream location for a genealogist (especially one whose ancestors were poor immigrants and surely stayed in a similar building)!
The Blue Moon Hotel is a perfect blend of the good sides of both worlds- my stay there was like stepping back 125 years but with all the modern amenities. My room probably housed a family of 12 in 1880, but was huge for just me! In the evenings I could open the window and sit on the wide sill and watch the bustle on Orchard Street, yet the new windows were sound-proof at night. Much of the old wood trim and tiles have been salvaged to decorate the hotel.
|The view from my window.|
The neighborhood is filled with little restaurants and shops. I was able to attend the Lower East Side Pickle Day, too, and sample all sorts of pickles including a pickle cupcake and a pickle ice cream sandwich!
For any historian or genealogist, or just someone looking for a unique hotel, I would recommend a stay at the Blue Moon Hotel. It is a little piece of history.
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