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Lower East Side Historical Exhibit Opens at Henry Street Settlement

Lower East Side Historical Exhibit Opens at Henry Street Settlement

This exhibit will teach kids and adults about Lower East Side history.

The Henry Street Settlement, located on the Lower East Side, recently opened an interactive exhibit that will teach children about NYC’s history during the time of early immigration. This exhibit will allow visitors to travel back in time to the year 1893 and observe 125 years of the Lower East Side’s history. Are you interested in learning more about history, politics and social activism, urban poverty, and public health? The permanent exhibit The House on Henry Street, which opened in September, is the place for you!

Today, Henry Street assists more than 50,000 New Yorkers annually, by providing social services, arts programs, and health care services to New Yorkers of all ages. Henry Street was originally founded when Lillian Wald, a nurse, followed a crying child through the streets to an unheated tenement. She found the child’s mother, who was abandoned by her doctor because the family couldn’t pay his fee, near death. The exhibit starts with the founding of Henry Street Settlement with a 6-minute video called “Baptism of Fire” that focuses on Wald’s story. “Elementary and middle school kids can appreciate it,” says Barbara Kancelbaum, deputy officer of marketing and communications at Henry Street.

An educational and interactive exhibit for all ages, visitors will be immersed into what the Lower East Side was like at the turn of the 20th century, when it was the most crowded neighborhood in the world. The exhibit features “windows” through which visitors can “see” typical street scenes from 1893. Photographs, videos, stories, and quotations will provide valuable historic takeaways on how reformers came together during the Progressive Era. An interactive element includes picking up a speaker to listen to stories that compliment pictures in the exhibit. Artifacts on display include a Henry Street guest book signed by Rosa Parks, Wald’s nurse badge, and a nurse’s bag from the turn of the 20th century.   

This exhibit teaches children about waves of early immigration, rapid industrialization, and urban crowding. The House on Henry Street traces the history of the Lower East Side and the settlement across six distinct areas, including immigrants’ arrival in America, the problems they faced, how those problems led to action, the legacy they left behind and more.

It is a thought-provoking exhibit that can teach children to be more aware of their current surroundings, contribute to change, and proceed to help others.

The exhibit is open Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm, and by appointment on evenings and weekends. Admission is free. The House on Henry Street is located at 265 Henry St. on the Lower East Side. For more information, visit or call 212-766-9200 x2257. 

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Megan Vasquez

Author: Megan Vasquez, a junior at New York University pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Media, Culture and Communication, is a fall 2018 editorial intern at NYMetroParents. You can find her at the dog park with her chihuahua, making your favorite drinks as a Starbucks barista, or camping along the east coast. See More

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