The Business Times

Immigration: Doing the right thing

Published Fri, Nov 21, 2014 · 09:50 PM
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THE Tenement Museum, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, is one of my favourite places in New York City. It's a Civil War-vintage building that housed successive waves of immigrants, and a number of apartments have been restored to look exactly as they did in various eras from the 1860s to the 1930s (when the building was declared unfit for occupancy).

When you tour the museum, you come away with a powerful sense of immigration as a human experience which - despite plenty of bad times, despite a cultural climate in which Jews, Italians and others were often portrayed as racially inferior - was overwhelmingly positive.

I get especially choked up about the Baldizzi apartment from 1934. When I described its layout to my parents, both declared: "I grew up in that apartment!" And today's immigrants are the same, in aspiration and behaviour, as my grandparents were - people seeking a better life, and by and large finding it.

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