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New York’s Tenement Museum: Walking tours

When we visited New York last summer, we took the advice of a friend and went to the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side. The museum brings to life, through a series of guided tours, the tenement at 97 Orchard Street. It was built in 1863 and, over the decades, housed immigrants from all over Europe. The tour we went on was called “The Moores: An Irish Family in America,” and it was fascinating. I was happy, therefore, to see that the Museum now offers a couple of walking tours which explicitly do not enter any buildings — perhaps it would be okay to bring a dog along, I thought, so I called the Museum this morning and asked.

The person I spoke to didn’t go quite as far as saying that pet dogs were not allowed (service dogs are, of course, okay), but rather said that they were strongly discouraged, because they would be “distracting.” What if they were in a carrier, I asked, and I got the same response, but with a certain lack of conviction. Here’s what I think: I think that if you showed up with your dog in a stealth carrier and didn’t draw attention to her, you’d be fine. You might even get away with an exquisitely-behaved leashed dog, but I’m not so confident about that. Chloe is not exquisitely-behaved, so I plan to take the stealth bag approach — but I plan to do it sometime other than the summer, when the Lower East Side is scorchingly hot, even outside the tenement building.

There are currently three walking tours on the Museum’s site. One is a food-tasting tour, called “Taste of the Lower East Side.” Given how squirrelly food establishments are about dogs, I’d either avoid this tour, or make sure that Chloe was entirely invisible in her stealth bag. The other two tours, “Immigrant Soles” and “Next Steps,” do not involve food tasting. It’s not clear from the descriptions how they differ, other than that “Next Steps” crosses Delancey Street, and is apparently longer than “Immigrant Soles.” It’s important to note that both are very long (90 minutes and 2 hours), so eat your Wheaties before hoisting your dog onto your shoulder.

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