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New York, NY

Obscura Society NY: Slums on the Lower East Side - Dystopia in America

Housing the Masses: The Colossal Failures of The Five Points, Mulberry Bend and the Historic Lower East Side

The Lower East Side and the Civic Center, now teeming with well heeled Manhattanites, was long a place of misery and struggle. An area once covered by a lake became the home of successive waves of poor immigrants. The most notorious slum in America housed waves of Irish and Italian immigrants. It was known as The Five Points and later as Mulberry Bend. On the other side of the high ground, the Bowery and Chatham Square went from a predominantly German neighborhood, Kleindeutschland, to an Eastern European influx of mainly Jewish immigrants, into what is now Chinatown.

Throughout the history of the neighborhood the housing of this influx of humanity was left in the hands of real estate developers. These slumlords sought to exploit the masses and bend the laws to maximize their profit on human misery. This tour will focus on the architectural evolution of housing for the immigrant working poor (and its utter failure to accommodate the reality of the situation).

Join the New York Obscura Society and expert guide Robert Amell as we rediscover the history of The Five Points, Mulberry Bend and the tenement housing of the Lower East Side. Through the lens of tenement architecture we will rediscover the dystopian neighborhood that is now hidden in plain sight.