Life on the Lower East Side was bustling. Immigrants from many European countries had come to make a better life for themselves and their families in the United States. But the wages they earned were so low that they could afford only the most basic accommodations—tenements. Unfortunately, there were few laws protecting the residents of tenements, and landlords took advantage of this by allowing the buildings to become cramped and squalid. There was little the tenants could do; their only other choice was the street. Though most immigrants struggled in these buildings, many overcame a difficult start and saw generations after them move on to better apartments, homes, and lives. Raymond Bial reveals the first, challenging step in this process as he leads us on a tour of the sights and sounds of the Lower East Side, guiding us through the dark hallways, staircases, and rooms of the tenements.
About the Author
Raymond Bial is an acclaimed photoessayist for children. Four of his books were chosen as Notable Books in the Field of Social Studies by the NCSS. He lives in Urbana, Illinois, with his wife and children.
"[Bial] conveys a visual sense of the area's former (if not present) bustle and squalor. This is more than just a photo album... Bial also presents a substantial historical overview." Kirkus Reviews
"Bial focuses this illuminating photoessay on the immigrants who settled on Manhatten's Lower East Side from the early 1800s to the 1930s...Historic photos make the plight of these families startlingly real." Publishers Weekly
"The author's beautifully composed, stunning color pictures...[and] detailed descriptions transport readers back into the cramped quarters and crowded streets and alleys of late 19th and early 20th century New York." School Library Journal
An excellent example of how books can bring the past to the present.
Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
“Children who imagine their ancestors stepping from Ellis Island directly into the American Dream will want to take a look around the old neighborhood.” The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books