Tenement museum puts on the squeeze

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The Independent US

A museum in New York celebrating the era of the tenements – the dark and dank four or five-storey buildings that housed poor immigrant families around and before the turn of the last century – wants to evict its neighbours in the tenement next door so it can expand.

A museum in New York celebrating the era of the tenements – the dark and dank four or five-storey buildings that housed poor immigrant families around and before the turn of the last century – wants to evict its neighbours in the tenement next door so it can expand.

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, which has recreated the crowded living conditions of an original tenement, can no longer accommodate all those who want to visit it. The solution would seem to lie in the tenement next door.

The museum has applied to use a legal tool known as eminent domain to force the residents to move out so that it can acquire the building and instantly double its area of public space.

Derrick Smith, a British-born scientist who lives in the building, said: "This museum is supposed to honour the people who lived here. To be honouring the people who lived in the neighbourhood by using eminent domain, which is a very aggressive way to buy a building, seems to be duplicitous."

Ruth Abram, who founded the museum in 1988, said: "Our public tours are at capacity. Every week, every weekend, the museum has to turn away visitors."

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