navigate to thirteen or ed online

Lesson Plans
The House at 97 Orchard Street

Nancy N. Miller
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials
Grade Level
Time Alloment
 4 -5 hours


This lesson is designed to give your students a "real time" look into the past. They will have the opportunity to look at the living quarters and belongings of a group of immigrant families living in one tenement building spanning the years from 1830 to 1940. They will also be able to dig into the history of each family for a more personal and in-depth view of just why these people came to America, what they expected, and what they found upon their arrival.

In this lesson your class will be taking a trip through time to visit the tenement located at 97 Orchard Street. This was originally a working class tenement located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The students will first look at the excavation of 97 Orchard Street during its restoration process. While there, they will get to "Dig Up The Past," working as amateur archeologists in an online Internet activity. They will then share their results and get some background on the development of Manhattan during the major immigration influxes of the period between 1830 and 1940. This information is given by a short video-driven presentation. The class will finally break into expert groups and do an online Internet activity for a given immigrant family, time period, and life style. They will present this information to the rest of the class at the conclusion of the activity.

Subject Matter

History, Social Studies

Learning Activities

Students will be able to:
  • describe reasons why various immigrant groups came to the United States.
  • explain how the national background/culture of the immigrants added to the "melting pot" of American culture.

From the National Social Studies standards, available online at

Strand 2
Time, Continuity, and Change : Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ways human beings view themselves in and over time.

Strand 5
Individuals, Groups, and Organizations: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of interactions among individuals, groups, and institutions.

From the New York State Social Studies Standards, available online at

Content Standard 1:
The skills of historical analysis include the ability to explain: the significance of historical evidence; weigh the importance, reliability, and validity of evidence; understand the concept of multiple causation; understand the importance of changing and competing interpretations of different historical developments.

Media Components


New York: A Documentary Film, Episode 2 "Order & Disorder"

Web Sites

The Thirteen/WNET Tenement Museum Wallpaper and Floorboard Activity Page
This site is used as the basis of the introductory activity in this unit. The Tenement Restoration page of this site provides a wealth of information and visuals about the restoration of 97 Orchard Street. Two interactive areas on this page allow you dive right into the past. The first will let you actually "peel" the wallpaper from a wall to see the various artistic styles and colors used over the years. The second will take you on an archeological treasure hunt under the floor boards of the building for artifacts found at the site.

The Tenement Museum Virtual Tour
This site contains the material needed to complete the culminating activity for this unit. It is the tenement museum official website virtual tour homepage. It is the start of the virtual tour of the building with all of its history and contents provided through pop-ups and hotspots within the tour pages themselves. To actually use the virtual tour, you will need to have QuickTime Player or Windows Media Player installed on your computer. Windows Media Player is a part of the standard software package your computer comes with as a PC. QuickTime Player is available as a free download at:
You may take tour with or without the audio component. In order to use the audio tour, you will need RealPlayer installed on the computer. This is available free online at:

The Urban Log Cabin Site
Doll house dioramas with descriptions of the families living in a tenement in 1870 and 1915 can be used by the students to gain further information for the culminating activity and lesson extensions. Click on a room to see the inside and learn about the families and their lives.

The Thirteen/WNET Virtual Reality Tour Site
For those students investigating the Gumpeltz and Baldizzi families, this site takes you on another video camera tour of the Gumpertz and Baldizzi apartments. It also provides more in depth background material about the families to aid in presentation of their findings.

History of the Tenements
This page supplies in-depth information about the Lower East Side immigrant communities, as well as a concise history of the laws which would shape the development and future collapse of 97 Orchard Street as a tenement. It is very useful as a source of information.


Internet Access for class via a large screen tv monitor or as small groups (2 to 4 students per computer)

For each student: