Once people were released from Ellis Island many of them settled on the lower east side of Manhattan. In the late 1800s/early 1900s it was the Irish and Germans, followed by the Eastern Europeans, Italians and Chinese. So, to stay with the theme we decided to visit the Tenament Museum on Saturday. You have to reserve tours, 1 hour walk through the tenaments or 2 hour walking tours around the neighborhoods, all with different themes. Because these tours are so popular we could not get the tours we wanted until the afternoon. So, we started the day by walking around the lower east side. We started at the Essex Street Market, which is the only remaining NYC indoor vendor market (think Grand Central Market without the restaurants).
Next we checked out the Hester Street Fair (think a farmer’s market with just the prepared foods). It all looked great, but too early to eat.
So, we wandered around China Town and Little Italy. It was the annual St. Gennaro festival (think carnival and restaurant outdoor seating with people walking around all fitting within the narrow streets of NY). It was crazy but looked like lots of fun.
We finally were hungry enough for lunch and found a cute little Dim Sum restaurant which turned out to be well known for its Bao. Yum!
Finally it was time for our tours. We started with a 2 hour walking tour titled Then and Now. Our guide provided a great review of the LES neighborhoods and buildings discussing how the landscape has changed over time and questioned us about which buildings/streets should be preserved vs. rebuilt. It really provided perspective on all of the factors to consider with change and development of neighborhoods.
Then we met my nephew Diego who joined us for a 1 hour tour inside the Tenament building. It was a hot day, so we definitely got a little perspective on what life was like inside these buildings. This tour really rounded our 2 day exploration of immigrant life in NYC.
Of course a day on the lower east side would not be complete without a visit to a deli, so we had dinner at Katz’s Deli. The 3 of us split one meal – matzoh ball soup, brisket, kugel, potato pancake and pickles – can’t get more DELI than that!