- Skip to global NPS navigation
- Skip to this park navigation
- Skip to the main content
- Skip to this park information section
- Skip to the footer section
Alerts in effect, step into another time at the tenement museum.
The Tenement Museum tells the stories of working-class tenement residents, who moved to New York City from other countries and other parts of the country. Their work helped build the city and nation, and their stories help us understand our history. The museum shares these stories through guided tours of recreated tenement apartments, neighborhood walking tours, and virtual tours and programs.
Plan Your Visit to the Tenement Museum
Learn what to do and where to go when you visit!
Last updated: April 13, 2022
Contact info, mailing address:.
103 Orchard Street New York, NY 10002
Explore subjects and stories related to this park.
SCROLL TO CONTINUE THROUGH THIS EXPERIENCE
Your browser does not support the video element.
Millions of Americans can trace their ancestry back to tenements like this one.
Take a look inside to see how the tenement museum has preserved its history.
This story contains audio. Listen as you scroll.
In the middle of the 19th century, hundreds of thousands of new Americans flooded into New York. They found homes in buildings like this one, on Orchard Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where the population density in some neighborhoods approached nearly a quarter-million people per square mile by the mid 1860s.
Architecturally, 97 Orchard St. was simple and indistinguishable from thousands of other utilitarian structures. Today, it is preserved by the Tenement Museum, an innovative public history organization. Inside, visitors can see relics and reminders of one of the most consequential migrations in human history, a flood tide of humanity that changed the fabric of America.
For decades, tenement dwellers had only basic protection from fire but almost none from disease. As public understanding of contagious disease improved, housing laws in 1879 and 1901 helped spur incremental changes. “The Tenement acts were not about comfort, but about public health,” says Dave Favaloro, the Tenement Museum’s senior director of curatorial affairs.
Step into its cramped spaces to follow this brick structure along the y-axis of time, as landlords and residents grappled with such diseases as tuberculosis, cholera and influenza, — and as the fear of fire and bad air, even immigrants themselves, left indelible marks on its design and structure.
Archie William Friedberg, 97 Orchard resident 1914-18 | recorded in 1992.
Audio courtesy of the Tenement Museum
Among the busiest spaces in this crowded building was this basement saloon, operated by John and Caroline Schneider, a German couple, from 1864 to 1886. Today, it contains a map of Germany, sheet music and musical instruments. Beer gardens and saloons were essential social glue for German immigrants, yet others saw them as sites of drunkenness and lechery and worried about their impact on “traditional” American values.
The Schneiders lived and worked in the same basement space, and Caroline likely would have prepared food for her clients in this kitchen, next to the public room. Both died of tuberculosis, Caroline in 1885 and John in 1892.
In the 1860s, disease was an urgent fear, and rife in New York’s tenements. Tuberculosis was endemic in the city, but in the years after the Schneiders’ deaths, scientific understanding of how the contagion spread would expand. In addition, progressives used changes to the law, architecture and urban design to fight disease.
Among the most feared was cholera, spread by human waste. To access a toilet, patrons of the Schneiders’ bar, like residents of the apartments above, would have had to make their way to the backyard.
Step into what would have been a small, dark and smelly exterior courtyard to see the minimal plumbing this building offered when it was new.
When 97 Orchard St. was built, the only bathrooms were here, behind the building, and the only source of fresh water for the 22 apartments was this hydrant, attached to the municipal water system. The facilities here, which used a separate water source rather than a ground well, were considered more sanitary than those in many other buildings in the area.
When this building was still used as a tenement house, the backyard would have been much darker and more enclosed because it faced the rear of another tenement, torn down in 1930-31. And yet it also was a space where neighbors would encounter each other directly, whether they wanted to or not.
The tenement at 97 Orchard St. appealed to the museum’s founders in part because the building behind it had been torn down. That allowed street access to the back of the museum and room for this modern external staircase, which provides egress.
The museum works to balance today’s safety demands while preserving the interiors as much as possible. Some apartments have also been left exactly as they were found, after years of decay. Others have been re-created to represent a particular time period. The Tenement Museum doesn’t preserve this building to represent a single historical moment but, rather, a cross-section of different times.
Step into an apartment preserved as it would have looked in 1910, with some basic improvements to living conditions.
Around 1890, the landlords at 97 Orchard St. installed windows between the parlor and the kitchen to increase airflow and light, at the time thought to help reduce TB outbreaks. They were also likely trying to make their spaces more attractive in the competitive world of short-term tenement rentals. At the same time, there was a larger movement to improve conditions in New York’s tenements. In 1901, a new tenement law required indoor plumbing and gas lighting.
Apartments on the south side of the building were made smaller to include two water closets off the hall.
An air shaft was built to eliminate odors from the toilets. Walls were moved, and some tenants had less space. As of 1905, when these water closets were installed, the residents of this apartment no longer had to descend to the basement level to use the bathroom.
This door, at the rear of what is known as the Levine family apartment, allowed residents to move between the front and the back of the building in case of fire. The door was supposed to be kept unlocked, which meant privacy had to be negotiated between neighbors. Lines between private and public space were fluid, and children who grew up in buildings like this one remember using the city as a playground when conditions were cramped at home.
To build public support for reform, progressive activists often represented New York’s tenements as dark, overcrowded and dangerous. They were, but they also were homes, and often workplaces. The Levine family used this room as both a living and garment-making space. An 1892 inspector’s report indicated that there were three employees working full-time in this front room to make dresses, putting in 10-hour shifts.
In 1924, the fear of immigrants reached a peak, and the United States passed the Johnson-Reed Act, barring most immigrants from Asia and cutting by 80 percent arrivals from countries in Europe. In 1934, New York required landlords to replace wooden stairs with brick or masonry. Fewer immigrants, stricter housing codes and upward social mobility depressed demand for apartments in such buildings. A year later, the owner of 97 Orchard St. evicted his remaining tenants and closed the upper-floor apartments, leaving only a few businesses on the lower two levels. For more than half a century, these apartments fell into ruin, until the Tenement Museum moved in and started to re-create the lives of the building’s former occupants.
Millions of Americans can trace their ancestry back to buildings like this one, and collective memory frequently softens the narrative. Conditions were often dire, and disease rampant, and tenement laws were driven as much by xenophobia as by genuine concern for the poor. The fear of outsiders, often associated with actual and metaphorical disease, continues to shape Americans’ views of their own identity and security. Today, these buildings are part of a thriving neighborhood, with many apartments joined to create larger, more habitable spaces. And the Tenement Museum continues its mission to preserve and memorialize the lives, not of the great and famous, but of ordinary Americans who did their best to make this place home.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that among the effects of the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 was a cut by 80 percent of immigrant arrivals from the Western Hemisphere. The act effectively cut immigrant arrivals from many countries in Europe. The story has been corrected.
About this story
Kolin Pope is a three-time Emmy nominated animator and director whose work in documentary and journalism has been featured in The Washington Post, NBC News and Vice. He lives in Portland, Ore.
Editing by Jenna Pirog, Amy Hitt, Elite Truong. Audio editing and original score by Ted Muldoon. Copy editing by Adrienne Dunn. Photogrammetry and laser scanning by SOE Studio.
This story uses photogrammetry, a noncontact, nondestructive technique that records the exact size and shape of existing spaces and objects by combining thousands of images to output a 3-D rendering of a space. The Post used a lidar scanner, drones and handheld cameras to scan and photograph all sides of the building and rooms on location at the Tenement Museum on the lower east side of Manhattan. We used Reality Capture to process the images, clean up and output a 3-D model, and Cinema 4D to customize the lighting and animate the 3-D sequences.
Some cleanup of the models is required for purposes of formatting, authenticity, and visual clarity, especially of features that do not render well with the technique. As a result, some objects, like the gas lighting hanging from the ceiling, appear to have holes in them. The water closet we scanned is located on the Museum’s second floor, and was added to the third floor in post-production.
Tenement Museum Tickets and Tours
This post is about how to visit the Tenement Museum in New York City, including getting tickets, directions, what you will see at the museum, and an analysis of reviews.
The museum is housed in actual tenement buildings built in 1863.
The building served as a residence for approximately 7,000 immigrants from the time it was built all the way into the 1930s.
The only way to visit the museum (housed in historic tenement buildings) is by taking a tour or guided experience.
The museum offers many tours each day, but tours do sell out. If you are flexible about what day and time you can go, your chances of getting tickets increase.
It can't hurt to be spontaneous so you can always call at the last minute and see if tickets are available.
- Plan Your Visit
- Museum Tours
- Lower East Side Food Tour
- Other Museums in Manhattan
PLAN YOUR VISIT
TIP: A great way to complement your visit to the museum is to take our pay-what-you-wish Lower East Side Food Tour . See more below .
The Tenement Museum is at 103 Orchard Street at the corner of Delancey Street in the Lower East Side. ( map )
- B or D trains to Grand Street
- F train to Delancey Street
- J/M/Z to Essex Street
You can use this Google Map to get exact directions from your point of departure to the Museum.
If you are new to New York, you may find the following posts regarding the NYC subway helpful.
- How to Navigate the NYC Subway
- Which Subway Travel Card Is Best?
M15 North and South Bound. There is a bus stop at the corner of Grand and Allen Streets.
By Car: Click here for directions and parking information .
TIP: Many sightseeing bus tours have stops in the Lower East Side within walking distance of the Tenement Museum.
If you are thinking of taking a bus tour, see our post about which New York bus tour is best?
Museum Shop and Visitor Center Hours
The Visitor Center and Museum Shop are 7 days a week, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm , except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Days.
Choosing the Best Tour for You
As stated above, you can only visit the Musem by taking one of their tours. They offer many different tours each with its own theme.
Tours vary in duration so this is something to keep in mind. Also, some building tours require you to walk a few flights of stairs.
These old buildings can get hot in the summer, just like they did 100 years ago!
Below we list the types of tours they offer.
The museum offers many variations on the tours below, far too many to explain here. You can see more details on their website .
Note that tours are not recommended for children below the age of 6.
On these tours, you visit the apartments and homes of former residents of the building.
They have been designed to look as they did more than a century ago.
Your guide will discuss life in that era and help you imagine the experience of the families that lived in 97 Orchard.
Neighborhood Walking Tours
These tours are led by guides who show you around the neighborhood while explaining different aspects of the neighborhood.
Tours include topics like how locals spent time outside of their homes a hundred years ago.
Another topic is how the neighborhood has changed over the decades.
Apartment Tours - Meet the Residents
These tours have the added bonus of having a 'resident' (a costumed performer) of the building show you around their apartment.
These tours are especially good for families with children.
Note: These tours are on a limited number of Saturdays and Sundays and are booked up fast.
Other Events at the Museum
The Museum has special events, including panels discussing the themes of immigration, food history, music, health, and politics.
Also, every Thursday evening, the Tenement Museum hosts events and programs that are not offered any other time.
Some of these events are free and some require a ticket. See the schedule here .
This unique museum can sometimes sell out of tickets. We highly recommend that you buy your tickets in advance. The museum posts its tour schedule online 6 weeks in advance.
Apartment Tour Tickets:
- Students $30
- Seniors $30
- Children under 5 are not permitted at this time
Walking Tour Tickets:
- Adults $ 30
Apartment Tours- Meet the Residents :
- Children under 5 are 5 not permitted at this time
You can purchase tickets on their website , in person inside the gift shop, or by phone at 877-975-3786.
REVIEWS OF THE TENEMENT MUSEUM
The Tenement Museum has a very good 4.5-star TripAdvisor rating. Overall, guests have been very pleased with their experiences.
Many reviews point out how fascinating and interesting the inside of the 97 Orchard tenement apartment building is.
Guests have been mostly pleased by the guides and the content of all the tours.
There are some, but not many, negative reviews. The most frequent complaint is that the tours are too expensive.
Guests love the gift shop, which offers a great selection of books and many other New York City-related items.
LOWER EAST SIDE FOOD TOUR
The Lower East Side is one of NYC's most vibrant neighborhoods. That is why we created our pay-what-you-wish Lower East Side Food Tour .
You can take this tour before or after visiting the Tenement Museum, or instead of the museum tour which is somewhat expensive!
Our guides tell you about the history of immigration in the neighborhood, including what life was like in the tenements.
You'll also learn about the area’s well-known art scene. And of course, you'll be tasting some of the best and cheapest treats the neighborhood has to offer.
Be sure to take a look at our full lineup of New York food tours .
- Guide to The Lower East Side
- NYC Neighborhoods Explained
- NYC Attra c tions
- Things to Do in NYC
Choose a Destination... I want them all PLUS general travel tips. Amsterdam Berlin Boston Charleston Chicago Dubai Lisbon London Los Angeles Miami Nashville New York City New Orleans Paris Philadelphia Prague Rome San Francisco Washington DC
About The Author
North america, united kingdom & ireland, middle east & india, asia & oceania.
- Work & Careers
- Life & Arts
House museums #43: Tenement Museum
An intelligent take on global lifestyle, arts and culture.
- Insightful reads
- Interviews & reviews
- The FT Crossword
- Travel, houses, entertainment & style
Try unlimited access
- Then $69 per month
- New customers only
- Cancel anytime during your trial
What is included in my trial?
During your trial you will have complete digital access to FT.com with everything in both of our Standard Digital and Premium Digital packages.
Standard Digital includes access to a wealth of global news, analysis and expert opinion. Premium Digital includes access to our premier business column, Lex, as well as 15 curated newsletters covering key business themes with original, in-depth reporting. For a full comparison of Standard and Premium Digital, click here .
Change the plan you will roll onto at any time during your trial by visiting the “Settings & Account” section.
What happens at the end of my trial?
If you do nothing, you will be auto-enrolled in our premium digital monthly subscription plan and retain complete access for $69 per month.
For cost savings, you can change your plan at any time online in the “Settings & Account” section. If you’d like to retain your premium access and save 20%, you can opt to pay annually at the end of the trial.
You may also opt to downgrade to Standard Digital, a robust journalistic offering that fulfils many user’s needs. Compare Standard and Premium Digital here .
Any changes made can be done at any time and will become effective at the end of the trial period, allowing you to retain full access for 4 weeks, even if you downgrade or cancel.
When can I cancel?
You may change or cancel your subscription or trial at any time online. Simply log into Settings & Account and select "Cancel" on the right-hand side.
You can still enjoy your subscription until the end of your current billing period.
What forms of payment can I use?
We support credit card, debit card and PayPal payments.
Explore our subscriptions
Find the plan that suits you best.
Premium access for businesses and educational institutions.
Check if your university or organisation offers FT membership to read for free.
Cookies on FT Sites
City Sightseeing Moscow Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour with Optional Cruise
- Hop-on or hop-off at any of Moscow’s main highlights
- Views of Moscow from an open-top, double-decker bus
- Learn about the city with recorded commentary
- Visit Red Square, Alexander Gardens, and more
- Bus pass inclusions: 48 or 72 hour bus pass + walking tour
- Boat pass inclusions: 60 minute boat trip + walking tour
- Bus & Boat pass inclusions: 48 hour bus pass + 60 minute boat trip + walking tour
- Vouchers valid for 12 months
- Hotel pickup and drop-off
- Food and drinks, unless specified
- Location Name: The route begins at Red Square but you can board at any stop
- Wheelchair accessible
- Stroller accessible
- Near public transportation
- Confirmation will be received at time of booking
- Red Route runs from 10:00am - 6:00pm, every 25 minutes. Duration - 60 minutes. First stop - Bolotnaya Square.
- Most travelers can participate
- Green Route runs from 10:00am - 6:00pm, every 60 minutes. Duration - 120 minutes. First stop - Bolotnaya Square.
- Orange Route (currently suspended) runs from 10:30am - 6:30pm, every 30 minutes. Duration - 140 minutes. First stop - Museum of Cosmonautics
- Walking tour runs daily at 10:45am. Duration - 2 hours 30 minutes. Meeting point - Next to monument of Saints Cyril and Methodius.
- Boat tour operates 5th May - 20th October, from 11:30am - 6:30pm. Duration - 60 minutes. Meeting point - Zaryadye Park Pier.
- Mobile and paper vouchers are accepted for this tour.
- Vouchers can be redeemed at any of the stops along the routes.
- Vouchers are valid for 12 months
- For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.
City Sightseeing Moscow Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour with Optional Cruise provided by City Sightseeing Moscow
17 Best Moscow Tours
Are you planning a visit to the capital of Russia and looking for the best Moscow tours? From Red Square to the Kremlin and from world-class art to fairytale buildings, Moscow is an enchanting city that offers plenty of excitement and elegance. Its history dates back more than 800 years, and there is culture in abundance for visitors to immerse themselves in.
Make the most of your visit with 17 of the best Moscow tours that let you see everything the city and its surroundings have to offer.
1 – Guided Tour of the Moscow Metro
Moscow’s metro is world-famous, thanks to the architectural delights on offer underground stations around the capital. This guided tour of the Moscow stations, otherwise known as “the palace of the people” lasts for 1.5 hours and includes an English-speaking guide who will tell you how the Russian metro became one of the most beautiful in the world. Highlights include Mayakovskaya station with its aviation-themed mosaics.
- Moscow metro tours
2 – Cosmonautics Museum Space Tour
Discover Cosmonautics Museum with this space tour. Dive into one of the greatest battles between the Soviet Union and the United States – the space race. Hear about the space programs of the USSR and learn about how the USSR shaped space travel and technology.
- Cosmonautics Museum tours
3 – Guided Tour of the Kremlin
A Kremlin is actually a citadel in Russian towns, and Moscow’s version is, without doubt, the most famous. The Kremlin is the heartbeat of the city, and this guided tour takes you to the most important points of interest. See Cathedral Square with its orthodox temples; Tzar Cannon with its 890mm calibre, which is the largest in the world; and the exterior of the all-important government buildings that are located within the Kremlin’s walls.
Click here to learn how to book Kremlin tickets .
- Kremlin tours
4 – Moscow City Walking Tour
One of the best Moscow tours for seeing everything the city has to offer, this small-group walking tour lasts for 2 hours and includes an expert guide. Make the most of the capital and see the cobbled spaces of Red Square, take pictures of St Basil’s Cathedral, visit the elegant Bolshoi Theatre, and enjoy the ornamental Alexandrovsky Garden.
- Moscow walking tours
5 – Night Tour of Moscow
When the sun sets, the fun begins – and it all starts with a night tour of Russia’s most famous city. The beauty of Moscow comes into full effect after hours, as iconic buildings like St Basil’s Cathedral illuminate against the night sky. Other locations on this tour include the Moscow River and the Ukraine Hotel, which is a landmark skyscraper that was constructed during the era of Stalin.
6 – Sergiev Posad Day Trip
One of the best Moscow tours that take you outside of the city, the Sergiev Posad day trip provides the opportunity to see The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church. It’s made up of a number of different buildings that include the blue domes of the Cathedral of the Assumption, Church of St. Sergius and the Bell Tower.
- Sergiev Posad day trips from Moscow
7 – City Sightseeing Moscow Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour with Optional Cruise
If your time in Moscow is limited, this hop-on, hop-off bus tour is ideal – and it even features an optional cruise on the river. Choose between a 2 and 3-day ticket and see famous landmarks like Red Square, the Kremlin and the Bolshoi Theatre from an open-top panoramic bus with informative audio commentary. Take your experience to the next level by upgrading to a boat tour.
- Moscow hop on hop off bus tours
8 – Guided Tour of the Tretyakov Gallery
As one of the world’s most important galleries, the Tretyakov Gallery is a must-see for any art lovers and is one of the best Moscow tours for culture vultures. Learn about the masterworks of Pablo Tretyakov with a guided tour and discover the secrets behind the paintings. Other noticeable artists on view include Fedotov, Vasnetsov, Rokotov and Kiprenski, who is the author of the famous “Portrait of Alexander Pushkin”.
- Tretyakov Gallery tours
9 – Alternative Moscow: 2-Hour Walking Tour
See a different side of Moscow with this 2-hour alternative tour. An expert guide will take you around quirky streets, suburbs and squares while as your veer away from the traditional tourist hotspots. Highlights include a ride on the famous “Annushka” tram and a visit to the neighbourhood of Khitrovka, which was once known as the criminal district of the city.
10 – St.Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square: Private Tour and Ticket
Combine two of Moscow’s biggest attractions with a visit to Red Square and St.Basil’s Cathedral. Admire the beautiful architecture of St.Basil’s Cathedral from inside and out, before wandering Red Square and learn about the soldiers, farmers and revolutionaries that all called this famous square their home. Round things off with the changing of the guard at Alexander Garden.
- Red Square tours
11 – Bunker-42 Cold War Museum Guided Tour
Moscow is notorious for the Cold War, which lasted for about 45 years between 1945 and 1990. Head to the world-famous Bunker-42, located 65 meters below ground level, and learn about the storied past. Visit rooms and passages that were set up to shelter 3,000 people in case of nuclear attack and discover other sections, such as the equipment room and the war-proof telecommunications system.
- Bunker-42 Cold War Museum tours
12 – Architecture Tour of Moscow’s Metro and Kolomenskoye Estate
Combine the beauty of the metro stations with the Kolomenskoye Estate and see some of Moscow’s grandest sights. After visiting the elegant metro stations, it’s time to go to the Kolomenskoye Estate, which is filled with UNESCO-listed sites that are dedicated to Tsar Peter the Great.
- Kolomenskoye tours
13 – Tour of Soviet Moscow
Unpick the history of the USSR with one of the best Moscow tours for discovering Soviet Moscow. Starting at Monument to the Conquerors of Space, a tribute to the success of the Soviet space programme, the tour includes historical landmarks and interesting tidbits about Soviet Russia. There is also a visit to the All-Russia Exhibition Centre (VDNKh), a site that was constructed under the aegis of the USSR in tribute to state achievements.
14 – Moscow: 2.5-Hour Luxury River Cruise with Dining Option
Sail down the Moscow River on this 2.5 hour tour that provides a different perspective of the city and includes landmark sights. The boat features two decks and has panoramic views as well as free Wi-Fi access. Attractions along the route include Ukraine hotel, Sparrow Hills, Christ the Saviour Cathedral, Crimean Bridge, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Zaryadye Park and more.
- Moscow boat tours
15 – Izmailovo Market and Vodka Museum Tour
Visit the museum of Vodka and gain insight into one of Russia’s most famous exports and head to the Izmailovo antique and handicraft market to find a gem or two. The tour starts with Izmailovo market, which features the iconic matryoshka dolls, fur hats and amber jewellery. Next up is a trip to the Museum of Vodka, where you will discover a distillery that dates back to the 15th century.
- Izmailovo market tours
16 – Súzdal and Vladímir Day Tour
Discover Russia’s famous “Golden Ring” on this tour of two medieval cities outside of Moscow. The historic city of Vladimir is first up with its Golden Gate, which is an ancient city-fortress that dates back to the 13th century. Next up is the neighbouring town of Suzdal, which features historic architecture and the Kremlin, where you can see its striking white walls topped with blue domes.
- Suzdal & Vladimir tours from Moscow
17- Moscow Food Tasting & Walking Tour
Sample the unique flavours of Moscow with this food tour that lasts for 3 hours and features more than 15 different food and drink tastings. Weave in and out of small alleys in the city centre while enjoying the best food spots in town. See Moscow like a local while trying classic dishes from local breakfast haunts, bustling markets, the oldest monastery in Moscow, and dumpling cafes where you can taste authentic dumplings and enjoy local coffee.
- Moscow food tours