The Tenement Museum Time Machine

        Walking into the Tenement Museum was like walking through a time machine. I would have never expected a tenement apartment building from 1863 to be so well preserved in Manhattan. Our visit started in the museum’s gift shop, which did not give me any clues about the actual museum. Our tour began with a short introduction into the history of New York City and the immigrants that came here during the 19th and 20th centuries. We also saw cards, decorated with a variety of symbols, which were used by immigrants to stay in touch with their families across the seas. The best part of the tour was a visit to the restored apartment upstairs. The apartment looked exactly like it would have when it was occupied by immigrants from Europe. Every detail was carefully recreated to convince us that we were back in the early 20thcentury. The actress playing Victoria Confino was deeply immersed in her character and was very welcoming. We played new immigrants in a German family and interacted enthusiastically with Victoria. The conversation included subjects like schools, places to visit, jobs, and other important topics that immigrants, even today, need to know in order to start a new life in a new city. As the conversation progressed, it brought back memories of my own arrival in the United States. I could now better understand how an immigrant in the early 20th century lived in New York City. The Tenement Museum is not only holding on to the humble history of New York, but is presenting it in a highly realistic and interactive way that makes an impact in the people who experience it. It may be a small museum, but the stories it conveys, and the atmosphere it creates make it nothing short of a time machine.


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