Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Visitors of the Week: Roberta and Quinn from Ithaca, New York

Planning a visit to the Tenement Museum? Send us an email and be one of our Visitors of the Week.

Meet Tenement Museum members Roberta and Quinn from Ithaca, New York. Inspired by his mother’s career in architectural history, 11-year-old Quinn decided to focus his school paper on New York City tenements.

How did you hear about tenements, Quinn?

Quinn: My first research topic was Theodore Roosevelt, and he and Jacob Riis were friends. Through that, I learned about tenement buildings.

Which tour did you take today?

Q: We did Immigrant Soles and the Confino Tour.

What did you think of the Confino program?

Q: I thought it was really good. She’s a great actress.

Roberta: It was great, and the other people on the tour were really into it. We loved both tours. What was nice was because we had gone on the walking tour, some of the things that Victoria Confino was mentioning we already knew about because we’d gone on the neighborhood walking tour. I think that the neighborhood tours really complement the building tours. It makes a great package. We’d read a number of books; You can read about it and you can look at pictures. But it’s just not the same as actually being in the space. The issues that were brought up are historical, but it is a lot of the same stuff that’s happening today. How do you deal with difference? Everyone thinks of tenement life as a horrible time—they think of the Gangs of New York, and everything. With the Confino tour, she even said that they were the only [Sephardic] Greeks in the building, but they figured out how to make it work. People lived close together and were managing, even sometimes better than we are managing today.

What are some other things you like to do in the city?

Q: We love to go to museums and we do a lot of walking.

R: We like to walk the bridges. We’ve done the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, the Williamsburg. The 59th street Bridge. And his sister does NYC Swim, so she’s swum Liberty Island and Governor’s Island.

Q: That’s how we discovered Governor’s Island.

R: This July, she’s going to be part of one of the relay teams that’s going around Manhattan. She has her own experience of New York, and Quinn’s Dad grew up in Queens, and went to school in Manhattan. And I did my dissertation on a New York City topic.

You guys are very New York, through and through.

R: Yeah, we just take the bus in. We don’t live here, but I think walking the city is the only way you really learn a city.

When you’re in the neighborhood are there any other places that you like to go?

Q: Laboratorio Del Gelato.

R: Which we saw has moved. And the Essex Street Market, where we’re headed after this. There’s so much to take advantage of. We’ve just begun to pick through the area.

--Posted by Amy Ganser

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