Description: New York is mother of exiles.
Nearly half of all Americans today trace their lineage through Ellis Island. Of the 12 million who came through, one-third remained in New York City. Why did they come? What did they find? How did they make it?
An understanding of Manhattan’s growth tells why it was the Lower East Side that grew into the nation’s main immigrant district, and how its center came to be occupied by today’s Courthouse District. We see how conditions within the tenements inspired a visiting nurse to lead the way in establishing as common the practice of birth control in the United States. Our walk through the district shows that within decades the Irish Five Points became in turn the Jewish quarter, then Little Italy and now Chinatown, and eventually something else again.
Never before has there existed a city like this, so welcoming of forsaken people regardless of circumstance. And so it falls to the Lower East Side to accept the lonely, the miserable and the lost from around the world and turn them into Americans.
This is New York as engine of history’s greatest migration.
Meeting Place: Foley Square – southeast corner of Lafayette and Worth Streets. Nearest subway 4, 5, 6 trains to Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan.
New York, NY
Since 1987 I have indulged my passion for New York by giving classes, lectures and tours of its history. My focus is to go beyond the usual who-what-where-when and into the why and how – illustrated, for example, by a simple bend in a road, shape of a building or site of a church. Among those that have sponsored my tours are the Museum of Natural History and New York University, not to mention groups of all kinds around the world. I am a registered New York City tour guide, a member of the bar, and the author of a coming book on the ties between the history of New York and that of baseball.