Tenement House

I live in a railroad-style tenement apartment in Brooklyn. It is no longer what it used to be: a cheap, hot, moldy, stuffy, crowded home to immigrant families. Now it is renovated (with the occasional leak in the ceiling and decorative garbage cluttered outside) and quite expensive--it is certainly no longer housing for the poor.Yet the building retains its tenement feel. Every time I walk up the little stoop and into the hallway I cannot help but recall the stories of my grandmother, Hannah, who came to America from Poland and lived in a similar apartment. With her siblings they slept six to a bed. Her mother (my great-grandmother) was sick and could not work, and so it became Hannah's responsibility to support the family, working during the day and going to school at night. Though I do not wish upon myself the stress and difficulty those hard years must have brought her, every time I leave the apartment early in the morning or come back to it late at night I relate to her through the creaky stairs, the old wooden doors, and the musty smell of the corridor and I thank her for, through her hard work, making what was a place of poverty a place of comfort.

Year: 1920

– Raphi

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant