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Calendar No. 542
105th Congress Report
2d Session 105-303
LOWER EAST SIDE TENEMENT NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE ACT OF 1997
September 8 (legislative day, August 31), 1998.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Murkowski, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany S. 1408]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the bill (S. 1408) to establish the Lower East Side
Tenement National Historic Site, and for other purposes, having
considered the same, reports favorably thereon without
amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.
purpose of the measure
The purpose of S. 1408 is to establish the Lower East Side
Tenement National Historic Site, in New York City, as an
affiliated area of the National Park System.
background and need
Between 1880 and 1921, millions of immigrants flooded New
York, entering through Ellis Island and finding their way to
thousands of dwellings in the Lower East Side of New York City.
These dwellings, called tenements, were designed and
constructed to provide affordable shelter to the incoming
masses of poor immigrant workers.
The tenement located at 97 Orchard Street in New York City
was built in 1864 during the first immigration rush to provide
housing for immigrants. The brick building, rising five stories
with a raised basement, housed more than twenty families on a
lot planned for a single-family residence. Each floor had four
three-room apartments, with two windows in one room and none in
the others. The privies and water spigot for all residents were
located outdoors and immediately adjacent to the building. The
public bathhouse was down the street.
Conditions improved at 97 Orchard Street following the
passage of the New York Tenement House Act of 1901. Two toilets
were installed on each floor. A skylight was installed over the
stairway and interior windows were cut in the walls to allow
additional light throughout each apartment. The ground floor
became commercial space. Electricity was installed in 1918.
Further improvements were mandated in 1935, but the owner of
this building chose to close the building rather than follow
the new regulations. It remained boarded up for sixty years
until the Lower East Side Tenement Museum (Tenement Museum)
leased the building in 1988. The Lower East Side Tenement
Museum was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994.
In a Special Resource Study Report, the National Park
Service found the Lower East Side Tenement Museum met the
criteria for eligibility and suitability as a unit of the
National Park System. The Study concluded that there is no
other site presently in the National Park System or National
Historic Landmark Program that comprehensively interprets
immigration and tenement life during the country's peak
immigration period of 1880-1920. The study also found that
tenements are distinctive architectural forms not represented
elsewhere, and that 97 Orchard Street is an outstanding example
of an early tenement preserved from that period.
The Lower East Side Tenement National Historic Site will be
designated as an affiliated unit of the National Park System.
The Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Lower
East Side Tenement Museum will coordinate the operation and
interpretation of the historic site with the Statue of Liberty,
Ellis Island, and Castle Clinton National Monuments. The
National Park Service may enter into an agreement with the
Tenement Museum to provide funding for the development of the
historic site, and to provide technical and financial
assistance. The historic site will continue to be owned,
operated and managed by the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.
S. 1408 was introduced by Senators D'Amato and Moynihan on
November 7, 1997 and referred to the Committee on Energy and
Natural Resources. The Subcommittee on National Parks, Historic
Preservation and Recreation held a hearing on S. 1408 on July
At its business meeting on July 29, 1998, the Committee on
Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 1408 favorably
committee recommendation and tabulation of votes
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open
business session on July 29, 1998, by a unanimous voice vote of
a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 1408, as
Section 1 designates the bill's short title as the ``Lower
East Side Tenement National Historic Site Act of 1997''.
Section 2 lists the findings and the purposes of the bill.
The findings include: (1) immigration, and the resulting
cultural diversity, is a key factor in defining the identity of
the United States; (2) many citizens of the United States trace
their ancestry to other nations; (3) no other neighborhood in
the United States absorbed a comparable number of immigrants
than the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan; (4) the
Lower East Side Tenement at 97 Orchard Street is an outstanding
survivor of a large number of buildings that housed immigrants;
(5) the Lower East Side Tenement is owned and operated by the
Lower East Side Tenement Museum; (6) the Lower East Side Museum
is dedicated to interpreting immigrant life and its importance
to United States history; and (7) the Lower East Side Tenement
is nationally significant, and on April 19, 1994 the Lower East
Side Tenement was designated as a National Historic Landmark.
In addition the National Park Service found the Lower East Side
Tenement suitable and feasible for inclusion in the National
Park System. The purposes of the bill are listed as follows:
(1) to ensure the preservation, maintenance and interpretation
of the Lower East Side Tenement at 97 Orchard Street, and to
interpret the themes of immigration, tenement life, along with
the housing reform movement, and tenement architecture in the
United States; (2) to ensure continued interpretation of the
nationally significant immigrant phenomenon; and (3) to enhance
the interpretation of two other related National Park Service
Section 3 defines certain key terms in the Act.
Section 4 designates the Lower East Side Tenement Museum as
a National Historic Site. The Historic Site will continue to be
owned and operated by the Tenement Museum and the Secretary of
the Interior (Secretary), in consultation with the Tenement
Museum, will coordinate the operation and interpretation of the
historic site with three other related National Park Service
sites in and around New York City.
Section 5 directs the Secretary, within two years after the
enactment of this Act and in consultation with the Museum, to
develop a general management plan for the site. The plan will
outline how interpretation and operations of the site would be
coordinated with the Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis
Island National Monument and Castle Clinton National Monument.
Further, the Secretary may enter into a cooperative agreement
with the Museum to ensure the marking, interpretation and
preservation of the site, and the Secretary may provide
technical and financial assistance to the Museum.
Section 6 authorizes the appropriation of such sums as may
be necessary to carry out this Act.
cost and budgetary considerations
The following estimate of costs of this measure has been
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, August 14, 1998.
Hon. Frank H. Murkowski,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. Senate,
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 1408, the Lower East
Side Tenement National Historic Site Act of 1997.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Deborah Reis.
June E. O'Neill, Director.
congressional budget office cost estimate
S. 1408--Lower East Side Tenement National Historic Site Act of 1997
S. 1408 would designate the Lower East Side Tenement in New
York as a national historic site. The bill would authorize the
National Park Service (NPS) to enter into an agreement with the
Lower East Side Tenement Museum, which owns the site, to
provide for interpretation and preservation of the tenement.
For this purpose, the NPS would provide technical and financial
assistance, including any necessary amounts for capital
improvements and repairs. The bill also would authorize the NPS
to coordinate the operation and interpretation of the new site
with other nearby NPS units, such as the Statue of Liberty.
Assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts, CBO
estimates that the federal government would spend about $7.5
million to implement S. 1408 over the next five years. This
total includes $5 million for making needed capital
improvements and for creating an interpretive program for the
tenement. In addition, about $0.5 million annually over this
period would be used for operating and planning expenses.
S. 1408 would not affect direct spending or receipts;
therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures would not apply. The bill
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as
defined in the Unfunded Mandate Reform Act and would not affect
the budgets of state, local, or tribal governments.
The CBO staff contact is Deborah Reis. This estimate was
approved by Robert A. Sunshine, Deputy Assistant Director for
regulatory impact evaluation
In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in
carrying out S. 1408. The bill is not a regulatory measure in
the sense of imposing Government-established standards of
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals
No personal information would be collected in administering
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal
Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from
enactment of S. 1408, as ordered reported.
The testimony of the Department of the Interior at the
Subcommittee hearing follows:
Statement of Denis P. Galvin, Deputy Director, National Park Service,
Department of the Interior
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear
before you today to present the Department of the Interior's
views on S. 1408, a bill to establish the Lower East Side
Tenement National Historic Site in the City of New York.
The bill would designate the National Historic Landmark at
97 Orchard Street in New York City's Lower East Side as a
National Historic Site and make such an affiliated site of the
National Park System. The bill would authorize the Secretary of
the Interior to enter into a cooperative agreement with and
provide technical and financial assistance to the Lower East
Side Tenement Museum to ensure the marking, interpretation and
preservation of the historic site. The Secretary is also
authorized to develop, with the Museum, a general management
plan for the historic site. The plan would outline the roles
and responsibilities of the Secretary at the site and how
interpretation and programming for the site would be integrated
and coordinated with that of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis
Island and Castle Clinton National Monuments.
The Department of the Interior supports enactment of this
legislation. We believe the piece of American history being
preserved and interpreted at the Lower East Side Tenement is
historically significant and should be recognized. It is an
important piece of our history that we celebrate at the Statue
of Liberty, Ellis Island and Castle Clinton National Monuments
in New York City. The Lower East Side Tenement is the
continuation of the story of the immigrant experience and
explains what happened once thousands of people were allowed to
enter the United States after being processed at Ellis Island.
In April of 1994, the Lower East Side Tenement at 97 Orchard
Street was designated a National Historic Landmark by the
Secretary of the Interior.
At the direction of Congress, we undertook a special
resources study of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Our
report concludes that the tenement at 97 Orchard Street is an
outstanding example of a surviving tenement associated with
immigration and immigrant ways of life in the United States
during the latter half of the 19th century and the early 20th
century. The tenement meets the criteria of national
significance, suitability and feasibility for inclusion of the
site in the National Park System.
Built in 1863-1864, the building at 97 Orchard Street, is
one of the earliest tenements erected on Manhattan's Lower East
Side. During its 72-year tenure as housing, it may have been
home to as many as 10,000 immigrants. While the exterior of the
building resembles other nearby tenements, this building is
remarkable because the upper floors were not altered or
utilized since they were sealed in the 1930s. These floors,
although deteriorated, are thus preserved and provide a
poignant reminder of tenement life during the greatest period
of immigration in American history. Millions of immigrants
passed through Ellis Island, and earlier, Castle Clinton, and
found their way to thousands of similar dwellings on New York's
Lower East Side.
The non-profit Lower East Side Tenement Museum creatively
interprets the tenement and surrounding neighborhood. It links
the tenement's story to those of Ellis Island and Castle
Clinton. The Museum owns the building and has undertaken major
stabilization and restoration work so as to insure the
building's preservation. The Museum's visitor center and office
space are located in separate, nearby locations. The Museum
conducts a variety of programs both for visitors to the Museum
as well as for the community and neighborhood groups and
Our study evaluated three management alternatives for the
site. These were: (1) create a new National Park System unit
with full ownership and operation of the site by the National
Park Service; (2) establish the site as an affiliated area of
the National Park System and work cooperatively with the
Tenement Museum; and (3) take no federal action. We support the
second alternative that calls for a partnership approach. Under
this approach the Tenement Museum would own, operate and have
primary responsibility for the site. The Museum is a small
organization with limited resources but is a capable
institution that should remain involved in the operation and
management of the historic site. The National Park Service
would provide technical and financial assistance to the site
and the Tenement Museum through cooperative agreements. The
involvement of the National Park Service at the Tenement Museum
would enhance the ongoing programs of the Museum as well as
those of the National Park Service offered at Ellis Island and
Mr. Chairman, the Lower East Side Tenement is an
outstanding cultural resource. It represents a significant part
of the story of American immigration. It offers a unique
opportunity to teach present and future generations of
Americans about the lives of immigrants, about the experience
of many of our ancestors, about how and where they lived. The
establishment of the Lower East Side Tenement National Historic
Site as an affiliated area of the National Park System, managed
by the Tenement Museum with assistance from the National Park
Service, is critical to the successful preservation and
interpretation of this important resource and American story.
We fully support the legislation as drafted and encourage your
passage of this legislation.
If enacted, funding for implementation of S. 1408 would be
contingent upon Federal budgetary constraints and Departmental
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared remarks. I would
be pleased to respond to any questions you or members of the
Subcommittee may have regarding this bill.
changes in existing law
In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no
changes in existing law are made by S. 1408, as ordered