Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An Update on Our New Home at 103 Orchard

Dedicated readers may remember that we posted pictures of the groundbreaking ceremony for our new Visitor and Education Center at 103 Orchard Street last year--on March 30, 2010, to be precise. So how are things progressing exactly one year later? Well, major structural work is now completed, and the interior spaces are beginning to take shape. We’ve uncovered some interesting evidence of the building’s past, including the stories of its residents (to read some of them, click on the “103 Orchard St.” label on the righthand column). And thanks to our talented architects and contractors, we’re excited to say that we expect to open our doors to the public in July!

If you’ve been following the project, you know that our new home will be located directly across the street from our current visitor center. It will have a lot to offer—a demonstration kitchen for culinary programs, a theater, dedicated classroom and gallery space and of course our ticket counter and book shop.

Lana Bortolot from the Wall Street Journal recently toured the new space. Her article discusses the renovation of the building from an architectural perspective, while also explaining the importance of the project for us and the neighborhood as a whole. Click here to read the story.

A vintage sign uncovered during the renovation of 103 Orchard Street will be preserved.
Image Courtesy the Wall Street Journal 

Yu-Hwa Lin of Perkins Eastman Architecture, who previously worked on the rear yard exhibit at 97 Orchard Street, is the Project Architect. He shared some thoughts on the project with us recently.

We develop individual design concepts and strategies for every project at the museum, so the special needs of each one can be fulfilled. I think there is one constant, which is to find and define the very delicate balance between the past and present.

This project has been a personal challenge for me. As a new immigrant to New York who grew up overseas with modern architectural training, I knew almost nothing about early American history and life in New York. I started by learning about the lives of early immigrants so I could put myself in their shoes while planning the space.

103 Orchard was originally three individual adjacent buildings in the middle of the block back in 1880. Over time, the facade of the building was altered and the structure was modified to combine three buildings into one. The design team wanted to create a space that reveals the past, in keeping with the Museum’s mission. We plan to show the evolving history of the building, bearing in mind that what we do today will become part of its history in the future.

Typically, museum design requires very fine detail and material, but that’s not the case in this project. That’s not to say that we don’t want to do the best we can, but the nature of this project requires certain amount of roughness to be revealed so visitors can feel the spirit of the building.

By replacing the existing rundown storefront with floor-to-ceiling windows, we’ll open up the space to create a welcoming atmosphere for visitors. Our goal is that the Center will merge with neighborhood itself, emphasizing that the museum’s work is deeply rooted in its location.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Can You Guess the Artifact?

“Guess the artifact” is back by popular demand! Thank you for patience.

Today’s object is a permanent fixture in one of our current exhibitions. It's bound in leather, it's heavier than it looks, and it's shaped a little bit like a baseball bat.
Tell us what you think, and check back this Friday to find out the answer!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Place Matters: Landmarking the Site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Guest Post by Marci Reaven

Marci Reaven is the Director of Place Matters, a project of City Lore and the Municipal Arts Society.  She was influential in the process to designate the Brown Building a New York City Landmark in 2003.  Reaven also collaborated with NYU graduate students on the exhibit Art/Memory/Place: Commemorating the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire at the Grey Art Gallery.  In this guest post, Marci discusses the resources she uses when studying and researching the Triangle fire.

One terrific source of information about the Triangle fire focuses on the building where the fire took place. It’s the report created in 2003 by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission as part of the process of designating the building a New York City landmark.

Getting to the online document takes some clicking and scrolling:
Forms & Publications, Designation Reports, Manhattan, Individual Landmarks, Brown Building.

Brown Building (originally the Asch Building)
Photo by NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

The report is particularly interesting because the writer, Gail Harris, not only discusses the events leading up to and following the fire, but also the creation of manufacturing lofts like the one occupied by the Triangle Company and their importance to the garment industry. She helps us understand why the fire “happened here.” The garment unions and the NYC Fire Department have been holding regular commemorations at the now-named Brown Building (on the corner of Washington and Greene Streets) since the 50th anniversary of the fire in 1961. Their longstanding attention to the building has made it a critical support in sustaining public memory of the fire. This prompted the Place Matters project and many historians and labor and community activists to propose it for landmark designation.

Rather surprisingly, it was the first local building designated for its association with labor history! Since landmark designation not only protects buildings but also makes them part of an official NYC history, it would be great to now get some other labor landmarks protected as well.

Posted by Marci Reaven
Director, Place Matters, a project of City Lore and the Municipal Art Society

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Art/Memory/Place: Commemorating the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: A Collaborative Project Between the Grey Art Gallery and NYU Graduate Students

When I first moved to New York, I didn’t know much about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. What I did know could be summarized by several key words: locked door, trapped workers, and fire. I’ve only lived in NYC for two years, I moved here for New York University’s Museum Studies graduate program. Many of the Museum Studies classes have been held in the Silver Center, the building adjacent to the Brown Building – formerly known as the Asch Building. Last fall, a course was offered to Museum Studies and Public History graduate students to create an exhibit on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire for the Grey Art Gallery – NYU’s fine art museum. I jumped at the chance to learn more about the workplace tragedy that occurred only steps away from my classes.

Firefighters spray water on the Asch Building
trying to put out the Triangle factory fire blaze,
March 25, 1911
Photo from ILGWU Archives,
Kheel Center, Cornell University 
This was my first experience researching and developing an exhibit from start to finish. This was also the first time students collaborated on an exhibit for the Grey Art Gallery. On the first day of class, we all sat expectantly, as our two professors, Lucy Oakley – the Head of Education and Programs at the Grey Art Gallery, and Marci Reaven – the Director of Place Matters and a collaborator on the NYC Landmarking of the Brown Building, introduced themselves. Marci pointed out how remarkable it was that a class of sixteen women was going to create an exhibit about the Triangle fire, which affected mostly young immigrant women. The content and themes of the exhibit were going to be multifaceted. First, we were to examine the events leading up to the fire, a chronicle of the fire itself, and the occurrences after the fire. Then we were to record the fire’s legacy through the New Deal era, and to follow the commemorative efforts from the fiftieth anniversary in 1961 to the present. We wanted to conclude the exhibit with a call for continued vigilance and political reform for the protection of workers’ rights both in the United States and internationally.

The most practical approach to creating an exhibit with sixteen students was to break up into four teams, with each team tackling one of the four sections of the exhibit. I was part of section one. Section one focuses on the years 1909 to 1919, and it explores the strike of 1909, the Triangle fire, and the aftermath that ensued in the days and years following the fire. Over the course of the semester, we did extensive research, chose objects, and wrote text for the panels and labels that were to be mounted in the exhibit. Selecting objects was one of my favorite aspects of the exhibition process. One of the women in my group had a friend who constructed a shirtwaist for the exhibit. My group felt it was extremely important for visitors to see a representation of a shirtwaist. Lawn, a highly flammable material, was the fabric used to make the shirtwaists at the turn of the twentieth century. The flammability of the material was one of the major reasons the fire spread so quickly on that fateful day in March.
Photo by Huffington Post

When creating the exhibit we had to be considerate of the different stakeholders that are involved in the commemoration efforts, and we had to respect the policies and aesthetics of the Grey Art Gallery. One of the greatest challenges was working together as a class. Of course each of us had a vision of what the exhibit should look like, but we were able to work together so our ideas became compatible.

Working on this exhibit was a wonderful experience. I learned more about myself in the process, such as understanding my strengths and weaknesses when working in a large group. Art/Memory/Place: Commemorating the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire has received an amazing response from the public, which makes the experience all the more valuable, because people are responding to our work.  If you want to learn more about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire or become involved in the commemorative events for the 100th anniversary, make Art/Memory/Place at the Grey Art Gallery your first stop.

Art/Memory/Place: Commemorating the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire will run until March 26, 2011 and will re-open on April 12 to July 9, 2011. The Grey Art Gallery is located at 100 Washington Square East, NYC 10003. For more information, visit the Grey Art Gallery website.

Posted by Alana Rosen

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Fire with the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, Guest Post by Ruth Sergel

The Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition grew out of the Chalk project, a commemorative and collective action of inscribing the names and ages outside of the homes of the Triangle fire victims.  Ruth Sergel is the founder of the Chalk project and the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, the organization that has put together the most comprehensive list of events related to the Triangle fire.

On March 25, 1911 a fire broke out on the 8th floor of the Triangle Waist Company located just one block east of Washington Square Park. The workers ran to the fire escape. It collapsed, dropping them to their deaths. On the 9th floor, a critical exit was locked. People on the street watched in horror as the workers began jumping out the windows. Fire trucks arrived but their ladders only reached the 6th floor. One hundred forty-six people - mostly young immigrant women - perished. There was a trial but the owners, long known for their anti-union activities, were acquitted.

March 25, 2011 is the Centennial of this infamous fire. In concert with over 200 organizations and individuals across the country, the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition is networking commemorative events – activism, education, the arts – and coordinating the establishment of a
permanent public art memorial.

Please join us!

March 25, 11:00am Workers United Centennial Commemoration: Washington Place and Greene Street, just one block east of Washington Square Park. For more information on this and other centennial events please visit our website:

Posted by Ruth Sergel
Founder of Remember the Triangle Fire Coaltion

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Recommended Reading on The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

Over the last 100 years, there have been countless works of literature, art, theater, and even movements of political reform that were inspired by the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.  The following is the Tenement Museum's recommended reading list of books that explore both the events that occurred on that fateful day in March, and the causes and effects of the Triangle fire tragedy.

1. Triangle: The Fire That Changed America by David Von Drehle

2. The Triangle Fire by Leon Stein

3. The Triangle Fire, The Protocols of Peace, and Industrial Democracy: In Progressive Era New York by Richard A. Greenwald

4. Triangle: A Novel by Katherine Weber

For Young Adults
5. Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin

6. Fire at the Triangle Factory by Holly Littlefield -- suitable for children ages 9-12

Of Related Interest
7. The Diary of a Shirtwaist Striker: A Story of the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike in New York by Theresa Serber Malkiel

8. Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars by Elizabeth Ewen

9. From the Folks Who Brought you the Weekend: A Short, Illustrated History of Labor in the United States by Priscilla Murolo

10. Daughters of the Shtetel: Life and Labor in the Immigrant Generation by Susan A. Glenn

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Piecing it Together" and the Impact of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire on Immigrant Life: An Educator's Perspective

I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t remember learning about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire growing up in Tennessee. Maybe it wasn’t taught at my school. Maybe I tuned out during that unit.

I’m even more embarrassed to admit that, despite 4 years in college as a history major, it was not until I became an educator at the Tenement Museum that I had more than a superficial understanding of what had happened at 19 Washington Place on March 25, 1911. Since I first began working with the Museum, virtually every "Piecing It Together" tour I lead has begun with a visitor asking, “Are you going to talk about the fire? The Triangle fire?”

I have been at the museum now for almost two years, yet I still marvel at how many of our visitors know about the fire - parents, kids, teachers – and not just those from New York. They know about the locked doors. They know about the fire as a watershed moment in this country’s movement towards labor regulations and the support of unions.

And now the answer to the question is of course, “Yes. I will be talking about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.”

New York Evening Journal headline from March 28, 1911
Courtesy Kheel Center at Cornell University

In keeping with the countless articles, television specials on PBS and HBO, and hundreds of events around the country commemorating the 100th anniversary of the fire, educators at the museum present the tragedy within the historical and political context of the labor movement.  We also draw connections between this history and the precarious position of unions today as evidenced by the recent events in Wisconsin.

What I think the museum does best, however, is to paint a picture of how the fire and its aftermath was experienced by the people living within the community and who were most impacted by the tragedy. We do this by examining the fire from the perspective of the Rogarshevsky family, an Eastern European Jewish immigrant family that arrived in the United States in 1901. The Rogarshevskys moved into 97 Orchard Street by 1910, and by the time of the fire in 1911, at least three family members were working in the garment industry: Abraham, the father, at a small tenement sweatshop in the neighborhood, and Ida and Bessie, the two daughters, at a big factory like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory further up town.

Rogarshevsky Parlor
Photo by Tenement Museum
We imagine how the mother, Fannie, must have felt when word of the fire reached the neighborhood. Perhaps initially without the name of the specific factory, Fannie feared the worst for her two daughters.

We look at the front page of the Jewish Daily Forward from Sunday, March 26, 1911, the day after the fire. The headline reads, “The Morgue is Filled With Our Sacrifices” – OUR sacrifices, the sacrifices of an entire community. Together, visitors imagine the eight members of the Rogarshevsky family poring over the paper together, looking for names of friends and neighbors in the preliminary list of victims.

Perhaps Abraham, the most religiously observant of the family, looked up from the paper and announced to his family that it was not a mere coincidence that the fire broke out on a Saturday, the holiest day of the week within the Jewish tradition. Perhaps he viewed the fire as a punishment for those Jews breaking their commandment with God by working on the Sabbath.

Did his children share his view or did they voice opposing opinions over the parlor table? Maybe they reminded him that the majority of factories were dark on Sundays, so that despite the imposition on religious traditions (and despite the unsafe and unhygienic conditions, the low pay and poor treatment, and the exploitation by foremen and bosses), immigrants like themselves had no choice but to work Monday through Saturday, regardless of the Commandments.

For me, this kind of approach breathes life into an event that has become synonymous with immigrant issues, women’s issues, workers’ issues, and resonates primarily on a political level. It illuminates the personal at the heart of the political.

Posted by Clare Burson

Friday, March 18, 2011

Commemorative Events for the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

On March 25, 1911, as employees of the Triangle Waist Company finished their workday in the Asch Building (now known as the Brown Building; located on Washington Place and Greene Street), a fire broke out when a cigarette was thrown into a pile of lawn, an extremely flammable fabric used to make shirtwaists. As a result of poor safety conditions and a lack of emergency protocol in the Triangle factory, 146 men and women died tragically.  The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire was a climatic moment in labor history because it spurred the United States government to pass legislative reforms that would protect workers' rights.

Wednesday, March 25, 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Fire. There are countless forms of commemoration occurring throughout New York City and even across the country. The following are events, resources, and websites that can help one learn about and become involved with the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

Official Commemoration on March 25, 2011
Workers United will sponsor the official commemoration of the Triangle fire at the Brown Building in New York City
11 am: Music
12 pm: Speakers
4:45 pm EST: Join churches, schools and fire houses across the country to ring a bell at the exact time the first alarm was sounded

Programs at the Tenement Museum
March 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm
Fire Escape: A Commemorative Performance
America-in-Play memorializes the 100th anniversary of the fire with a performance that honors the victims of this tragedy.
Located at 108 Orchard Street

March 23, 2011 at 6:30 pm
Triangle: The Fire That Changed America with David Von Drehle
The author of the definitive social history discusses American labor conditions before and after the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of our city.
Located at 108 Orchard Street
Visit Tenement Talks 

“Piecing it Together” Tour
See the homes and garment shop of Jewish families who lived in the tenement during the “great wave” of immigration to America.
Tours Given Daily

Comprehensive List of Events at the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition
Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition is supporting organizations and the collaboration between communities across the country by spearheading the creation of commemorative events.
Visit the Remember the Triangle Fire's Online Calendar of Events

Online Resources
Triangle Fire Open Archive
The Triangle Fire Open Archive is an online archive being created by community contributions to tell the story of the Triangle Fire and its relevance today.
Visit the Open Archive 

Remembering The Triangle Factory Fire 100 Years Later Online Exhibit
Cornell University's IRL School Kheel Center honors the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Fire through a detailed online web exhibit.
Visit the Triangle Fire Online Exhibit

American Experience: The Triangle Fire Documentary
PBS created a documentary on the deadliest workplace accident in New York City.
Watch the Triangle Fire Documentary

Next week the Tenement Museum blog will be solely focused on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. Please stay tuned.

Monday, March 14, 2011

T.J. English and The Savage City

Visitors to the Tenement Museum often ask us if it’s safe to walk in this neighborhood. We laugh and tell them they’ll be fine; this is not the Lower East Side of 15 years ago, and it’s certainly not the New York City of the 1960s. The Savage City is the history of the city my parents were afraid of, all of the grit and none of the glory.

T.J. English’s newest book draws a viscerally detailed portrait of a city strained to the breaking point: murders, drug deals, institutionally corrupt cops, muggings in broad daylight, the gap between the very rich and the very poor is starkly obvious. Add to this racial tensions and the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement, and New York City becomes a powder keg ready to blow.

On August 28, 1963—the very day Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC—two young, rich, white women were brutally murdered in an Upper East Side apartment. The murder went unsolved for months, until an intrepid detective from Brooklyn used the notorious crooked cop methods of the third degree to extract a false confession from a young black man. Although George Whitmore, the accused, was cleared of this charge after the real murderer was convicted, he spent more than ten years in the penal system for two other murders he did not commit.

The Savage City is not only a nuanced history of this seminal case; it is a snapshot of the dark heart of our city. Get in on the conversation between T.J. English and Daily News reporter Michael Daly at Tenement Talks this Tuesday night at 6:30.

Posted by Katherine Broadway

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tenement Talk of the Day: Chiamanda Adiche

In June we were thrilled to welcome the award-winning Nigerian author of  Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Adichie, to Tenement Talks. Ms. Adichie read from her latest book, The Thing Around Your Neck, a collection of short stories targeting the complexities of immigration in the 21st century. We are pleased to be able to bring you  the recording of this event in this blog post.

In the following lively discussion with Tayari Jones, Adichie discusses her experiences upon moving to the United States, and about the concept of home.

Interested to know more?

Listen again to Adichie's conversation at Tenement Talks here:

The Tenement Museum's Alana Rosen's piece on Adichie's visit in June is available here:

Link to Adichie's TED talk is available here:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Visitors of the Week: Lisa and Fred from Hartford, Connecticut

Planning a visit to the Tenement Museum? Send us an email to be our next Visitor of the Week.

Meet Lisa and Fred from Hartford, Connecticut. While cat-sitting for their son in the West Village, the couple is taking advantage of a week in New York. Their tour here at the Tenement Museum inspired their own memories of apartment living and family stories of the Great Depression.

What tour did you go on today?

Lisa: Getting by with Raj [a Tenement Museum educator].

He mentioned to me that you both have interesting connections to tenement buildings.

Fred: I was born in Brooklyn in a coldwater flat. I guess it’s the next generation of what we saw here. I lived there until I was six, and then we moved to New Jersey. So the tour was very interesting and I could relate to it.

L: Fred’s father came over from Germany in 1929. He was an immigrant, but he didn’t go through Ellis Island. My grandmother came over from Germany also when she was eight, but she landed in Chicago. I was interested in what happened to immigrants after they came to the United States and the struggles they had.

Did you see any structural similarities to the building you grew up in versus our tenement building?

F: One thing is the airshaft. Of course ours was newer, so we had running water. But it brought back a lot of memories.

L: Your father used to talk about how it was so hot in the summertime because you were never getting any air.

F: Yeah, the apartments were long and narrow. It had the airshaft in the middle, and then on one end was the street and the other end was the backyard where we had our clotheslines [laughs]. I still remember all that.

Do you think the summer or the wintertime was harder?

F: You know when you’re young the summer and winter all runs together. Heat or cold don’t bother you as much.

L: I think this was a wonderful opportunity to see how people actually lived when there were thousands of people in the streets. When there were so many people living in those apartments. Like, for example, there were eight people in one apartment with how many…20 apartments? With everyone sharing four latrines and one water pump in the back.

Plus, at a certain point the storefront level was a functioning saloon of sorts; the patrons were all also using the bathrooms.

L: It’s unbelievable that people could live like that.

This tour focuses on the Great Depression, did you have any memories since you both had relatives immigrating [to America] during that time period?

F: Yeah. Both our parents lived through the Great Depression and it’s very clear it left a mark on them. In turn, it left a smaller mark on us. They preached about what happened in the Great Depression. You’ve got to say that you have to use every piece of the soap down to the last molecule.

L: And your father used to talk about how when he came over here the Depression had just started. He had a series of jobs until the businesses closed. He had earned a dollar a day, and when he had some rent he just barely made it in terms of his expenses.

What was his line of work?

L: He actually was a machinist. When that business went under, he would take any job he could get so he was working as a baker making donuts in the morning. They say the pay was so small you didn’t even have a safety net.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

New York’s reputation as amoral and debauched began far before the 21st Century. One newspaper clipping from the 1900s notes New York City as “a den of bootleggers, rum-runners, owners of speakeasy property, wet newspapers, underworld denizens, alcoholic slaves and personal liberty fanatics."

The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum explores the history and chemistry of toxicology at the turn-of-the-century. Cold blooded murder, sex, corruption, booze – The Poisoner's Handbook has it all. I sometimes find myself bemoaning nonfiction as dry and uninteresting. But isn't real history often more interesting than fiction? This book is certainly no exception.

Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Deborah Blum dissects the most popular poisons of choice, organizing each chapter by the designated venom. Including glamorous and exciting stories of poison laced pie crusts, faked car crashes and government bootlegging conspiracies, Blum begins by describing headline grabbing events and goes on to analyze the physical components of each poison.

Alexander Gettler, right, and colleagues in the first toxicology laboratory of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, City of New York, in a photo from 1922 or 1923.
Photo by
The Poisoner’s Handbook focuses on the careers of Manhattan’s first professional medical examiner, Dr. Charles Norris, and its first toxicologist, Alexander Gettler, who together developed forensic science in New York City.

Join us on March 8th as Deborah Blum will speak about her newest book. Come and enjoy intriguing conversation and have a glass of wine. But keep your cyanide at home, won’t you?

Posted by Amy Ganser

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Questions for Curatorial - Brown Brothers

Who are were the Brown brothers? Were they reformers? Where they newspaper men? Where do their pictures fit in the history of photography alongside Jacob Riis? Are they using the flash? Why are they seemingly lesser-known than Riis? Were they, like Riis, immigrants? What was their connection to tenement living? Was their aim to expose hazards or were they just kind of peep-showing among the great unwashed?

Brown Brothers was and continues to be a stock photo agency. Established in 1904 in New York City, the firm claims to be the oldest stock photo agency in the nation.

They were neither reformers nor immigrants. Brown Brothers was founded by brothers Arthur and Charles Brown, themselves New Yorkers. Brown Brothers eventually had a staff of 12 photographers covering a wide variety of subjects with a particular focus on New York, immigrants, and urban life.

Like Riis, they relied on the flash. Indeed, at the turn of the 20th century, the same halftone process of reproducing photographs used by Riis became widespread in such printed matter as newspapers. Previously, newspapers used artists and engravers to illustrate their issues. In 1904, great dailies such as The New York Times did not have their own staffs of photographers. Instead, they turned to Brown Brothers for daily news assignments.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on Edge with T.J. English

For the first time, the New York Times bestselling author T. J. English reclaims the story of this volatile period in our history through the eyes of three desperate men—an innocent man wrongly accused of murder, a corrupt cop, and a militant Black Panther.  All three men are alive and able to tell their story.

Watch as T.J. English discusses The Savage City

The Savage City begins with a horrifying double murder on the day on which Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and declared “I have a dream.”  Two young white women were murdered in their apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The murders marked the start of a ten-year saga of racial violence and unrest that ravaged the city.

English explores this traumatic decade through the stories of three very different men:

George Whitmore Jr., a 19-year-old black man, half-blind and destitute, who was railroaded for the  Career Girls murders—a living symbol of the inequities of the system.

Bill Phillips, a gleefully corrupt New York City cop who plundered the city through graft, extortion, and brutality—until he was caught and eventually turned state’s evidence in the famous Knapp Commission hearings.

Dhoruba bin Wahad, a founder of New York’s Black Panther Party, whose militant actions against the NYPD made him a target of virtually every local and federal law enforcement body in the city.

Visit Tenement Talks on March 15 at 6:30 PM for The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on Edge with T.J. English