Immigrant New York: A Walking Tour of the Lower East Side

About the Tour

The audio tour, “Discovering Immigrant New York City,” leads students through one of the nation’s most significant multi-ethnic historic neighborhoods, Lower Manhattan’s Chinatown and Little Italy. Examining the area’s streetscapes, the tour will draw students’ attention to the visible traces of previous immigrant communities while attending to the lives of recent arrivals. Students will learn how the neighborhood encapsulates several broad themes frequently taught in undergraduate American history and immigration courses – neighborhood succession, Progressive Era reform, the changing immigration law, and the consequences of those changes.

Annotated Bibliography of Printed Resources

Anbinder, Tyler. Five Points: The 19th-Century New York City Neighborhood That Invented Tap Dance, Stole Elections, and Became The World's Most Notorious Slum. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Brown, Joshua. “The 'Dead Rabbit'- Bowery Boy Riot: An Analysis of the  Antebellum New York Gang."

Brown, Joshua. Unpublished MA thesis, Columbia University, 1976.

Foster, George. New York by Gas-Light and Other Urban Sketches. Ed., Stuart M. Blumin. [1850]  Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

Gilfoyle, Timothy. A Pickpocket's Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century. New York.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006.

Groneman, Carol.  "The 'Bloody Ould Sixth': A Social Analysis of a New York City Working Class Community in the Mid-Nineteenth Century," unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Rochester, 1973.

Kwong, Peter. The New Chinatown. New York: Hill & Wang, 1987.

Stott, Richard. Workers in the Metropolis, Class, Ethnicity, and Youth in Antebellum. New York City.  Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990.

Tchen, John Kuo Wei. New York Before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture, 1776-1882. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Yamin, Rebecca, ed.  Tales of Five Points: Working-Class Life in Nineteenth-Century New York.  6 Vols. West Chester: John Milner Associates, 2000.  Volume three, Documents.

Annotated Bibliography of Web Resources

Uncovering the Five Points

A searchable database containing information about the neighborhood of the walking tour drawn from the 1855 New York State Census, data that paints a more complex portrait of it working-class residents created by the American Social History Project.

Five Points: New York’s Irish Working Class in the 1850s

A 30 minute documentary on Five Points, the first and most notorious slum in 19th century New York, as seen through the conflicting perspectives of a native-born Protestant reformer and an immigrant Irish Catholic family. Viewers Guide available.

The Five Points Site: Archaeologists and Historians rediscover a famous 19th century neighborhood

When General Services Administration archaeologists excavated the Foley Square courthouse block in downtown New York City, they were able to examine the physical remains of the 19th century immigrant neighborhood covered by the walking tour. A virtual exhibition tells the story of what was found and presents artifacts, images and maps of the area providing a greater understanding of the people who lived there.

Documenting ’The Other Half:’ the Social Reform Photographs of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine

These photographs of the area of the walking tour, by the famous social reform photographers Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine, presented startling evidence to middle-class New Yorkers of the need to clean up the slums. They should be used judiciously, especially in the case of Riis, whose ideological bias is discussed in the analysis of his work (which would make an interesting class exercise).

Italian American Museum

Located in a preserved bank building at 155 Mulberry Street, at the corner of Grand Street, in the heart of Little Italy, this museum seeks to gather and preserve memorabilia, reminiscences, oral histories, and documents that demonstrate the struggles and contributions of Italian Americans.

Museum of Chinese in America

Founded in 1980, now housed in a Maya Lin designed building at 215 Centre Street (between Howard and Grand), MOCA is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history, heritage, culture and diverse experience of people of Chinese descent in the United States.

Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge Street

The Museum and gloriously restored Eldridge Street Synagogue tell the story of the great wave of Jewish immigrants to the Lower East Side.

Tenement Museum, 97 Orchard Street.

A new York City Museum that tells the stories of German Jewish, Italian and Irish Catholic who lived in 97 Orchard Street, a tenement built in 1863 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Sites: Lower Manhattan’s Chinatown and Little Italy: The Five Points Area, Columbus Park, Church of the Transfiguration and other structures

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