Biography of a Tenement House: An Architectural History of 97 Orchard Street

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Center for American Places at Columbia College, 2012 - Architecture - 141 pages
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"I trace my ancestry back to the Mayflower," writes Andrew S. Dolkart. "Not to the legendary ship that brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620, but to the more prosaic tenement on the southeast corner of East Broadway and Clinton Street named the Mayflower, where my father was born in 1914 to Russian-Jewish immigrants."

For Dolkart, his father's experience of being raised in a tenement became a metaphor for the life that was afforded countless immigrant children growing up in Lower Manhattan during the past century. In this revised edition of his classic book, Dolkart presents for us a precise and informative biography of a typical tenement house in New York City that became, in 1988, the site for the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. The author documents, analyzes, and interprets the architectural and social history of this building at 97 Orchard Street, beginning in the 1860s when it was erected, moving on to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when the neighborhood started to change, and concluding in the present day as the building is reincarnated as the museum.

This edition includes new research on the basement storefronts (specifically the Schneider saloon and the kosher butcher), the backyard privies and their reconstruction, and the new Irish Moore apartment. Biography of a Tenement House in New York City is a lasting tribute to the legacy of immigrants and their children, who were part of the transformation of New York City and the fabric of everyday American urban life.

Distributed for the Center for American Places at ColumbiaCollege Chicago

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About the author (2012)

Andrew S. Dolkart, Director of the Historic Preservation Program and James Marston Fitch Associate Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University, is the author of The Row House Reborn: Architecture and Neighborhoods in New York City, 1908-1929.

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