Soften Your Heart at the Tenement Museum

No need to close your eyes and imagine what it might have been like for immigrants in turn-of-the-20th-century America to struggle mightily for a piece of the promise of the American dream. Visit the Tenement Museum and see it and feel it for yourself, as I did on Tuesday.

It's not that you leave your imagination at the door. Rather, your wonderings take wing in context as you meet the ghosts of past inhabitants of 97 Orchard Street on New York City's lower east side.

On our tour, you stand crowded in dark, tiny tenement rooms once called home by a German-Jewish family who survived the Panic of 1873 and an Italian Catholic brood who outlasted the Great Depression. You are crowded shoulder to shoulder with other curious historians, many of them, descendants of the very immigrants whose lives we touch, standing there. With words and answers and pictures and questions and breathing in the dense history, you are transported to a teeming time, a dreaming time, the same American dream that drew my ancestors and that continues to draw 'em in even as we speak. Great stuff. Check it out if you have a chance.

For more see Tenement Museum Flickr Photostream and Tenement Museum Blog.