Recommended for 3rd-5th grades (all year) and 2nd grade (spring semester)
This program explores the rich history of immigration on the Upper East Side by focusing on the German and Hungarian areas in historic Yorkville and how the built environment can provide clues to this rich heritage.  Students study historic photographs, maps, learn new architectural vocabulary words, act as detectives during a walking tour, and role play as new immigrants during an art and writing activity.


This image filled session begins with a brief history of immigration in New York City (with a focus on the Upper East Side) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, from the journey by ship to New York City, to the inspection stations at Ellis Island, and the choice of which neighborhood to live in. We focus on the idea of immigrant communities, including how food, music, language, and religion often made immigrants feel at home in Yorkville.  Students study tenement floor plans and imagine what life was like in a tenement building. Through the study of photographs, maps and a vocabulary sheet with architectural terms, students learn how immigration affected the character of a neighborhood and its built environment.

We meet in historic Yorkville (85th Street and 1st Avenue) and embark on a walking tour of significant homes, tenement buildings, churches, and stores that reflect the historic presence of German and Hungarian immigrants.  From an 1830 farmhouse to the old site of Jacob Ruppert’s brewery, students will act as detectives to discover evidence of the immigrant community and  consider how food, music, language, and religion brought them together. The walk brings the study of immigration in New York City directly into their school neighborhood and show students how immigrant history can be found in their immediate built environment.
*Please note
that the walking tour for the Immigration Unit takes place in Yorkville and your educator will meet you on the southeast corner of 85th Street and 1st Avenue.  Please allow time to walk there from your school.

The culminating lesson is an art and writing project that allows students to travel back in time to 1904 and place themselves in the shoes of a new immigrant arriving at Ellis Island and settling into the neighborhood of Yorkville. On this journey, activities include creating their own German or Hungarian passport, passing “inspection” at Ellis Island, designing a postcard with an image of their new neighborhood and writing a letter to a friend or family member in their homeland. At the end of this session, each student is given a copy of our new Yorkville Immigration activity booklet.