WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/-- The U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation that would allow an expansion of the Lower East Side (LES) Tenement Museum. Authored by Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), H.R. 1846, the "Lower East Side Tenement National Historic Site Amendments Act", would allow the museum's expansion at 103 Orchard Street, enabling the local landmark to better serve visitors.
"Whether it is Chinatown, Little Italy, or émigrés from Germany, immigration has made New York a more vibrant place, offering invaluable economic and cultural contributions, while shaping the city's identity," said Velázquez (D-NY). "The LES Tenement museum honors these communities and pays tribute to the challenges they overcame when arriving in a new nation and city."
Since its founding 15 years ago, the LES Tenement Museum has recounted the story of thousands of working class families who lived in the historic structures located in the LES. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the tenements on Orchard Street were populated largely by east European Jewish immigrants, most of whom worked in the local garment industry. Their experiences, along with the stories of other tenement residents, are explored and showcased through the museum's guided tours and exhibits.
In 1998, through legislation authored by Velázquez, Congress designated the Museum's location at 97 Orchard Street as an affiliated site of the National Park System. The Secretary of the Interior declared the museum a historic landmark in 1994. As interest in the museum has grown, there is need for additional space. By having the National Park System recognize the Museum's expansion at 103 Orchard Street, Velázquez's most recent bill will enable the Museum to expand its programs and services. Over the years, interest in the Museum has grown with the facility now serving 200,000 visitors per year, including 40,000 school children. This growth in popularity has resulted in a demand for additional space. The Museum is already developing new programs and exhibits, including a project that will interpret the history of Holocaust survivors rebuilding their lives in America.
"We are thrilled that the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1846 today," said Morris Vogel, President of the Museum. "The Museum has always treasured its relationship with the National Park Service and is excited to see that relationship grow stronger as this new site is added to its boundaries. We'll use the site to tell the stories of real Puerto Rican and Chinese families—and Jewish Holocaust survivors—who lived and worked toward the American dream on the Lower East Side. Their stories are a critical chapter in our nation's vibrant melting pot history."
"The Lower East Side Tenement Museum is one of our nation's most important historic and cultural institutions," Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said. "It tells the story of those immigrant families who settled in one of our nation's most iconic and important neighborhoods – the lower East Side of Manhattan and thanks to this bill, the museum will be able to tell even more stories to more people. I commend my friend and colleague, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, for her authorship of this important bill."
The Senate will now need to consider the measure before it can be presented to the President to be signed into law.
"The LES Tenement Museum is a national treasure and an important educational resource," Velázquez added. "I'm proud to support this institution's expansion and growth, which will benefit New Yorkers and visitors alike."
Contact: Alex Haurek, (202) 225-2361
SOURCE Office of Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez