Curatorial Director Dave answers your questions.
Did any former residents of 97 Orchard Street die during the 1918 influenza epidemic?
Among the most deadly epidemics in human history, the 1918 Great Influenza pandemic killed approximately fifteen to twenty-one million people world wide. When it reached New York City during the fall of 1918, 130,000 people contracted the virus, and approximately 33,000 died by the time it had run its course in November 1918. Unfortunately, no statistical analysis of influenza deaths in 1918 by neighborhood has been conducted to date.
Nevertheless, the virus spread rapidly once it arrived in the crowded tenements of the Lower East Side—then considered the most densely populated place on earth with an average of approximately one thousand people per square acre—where it felled hundreds.
According to his daughters, Rumanian immigrant Jacob Burinescu died during the 1918 Influenza pandemic at 97 Orchard Street. Witness to the human toll wrought by the pandemic, one young Lower East Sider remembered that, “children died at an alarming rate and wagons came by on a regular basis to pick up the dead.”