tv City of Dreams CSPAN January 2, 2017 10:30am-11:58am EST
and authors every weekend. book tv, television for serious read [inaudible conversations]naudibe [inaudible conversations] >> evening, everybody. good evening and welcome to the lower east side tenement museum. my museum.nn my name is anna collins, vice president for programs and education to hear at the museum. how many of you have visited in the past? how many of you have gone to our tenement at 97 -- how many of
you have been here in thisl go? building? it hasn't opened yet. so upstairs we will be opening an exhibit appeared with dan tenement talks. excellent. but i like sometimes people feel like they visited the tenementep museum and they came in 1992 and they don't need to come again. we are so glad when they come back again and the programs here in the public programs here at night. but also what we are really, really excited about is the e debate that's going to open thie summer in 2017. the third floor of this building is now being transformed into an apartment in which over the years we had a family, the
absent family survived the concentration camps and started refugees will be telling our story. a puerto rican migrant family that came here in the mid-1950s and up to this building the 1960s. they will be telling there is worry. and the walker family, a chinese family that came to the lower east side in 1965. so these are on the stories we are able to read together it is the same type makes reuse which is to use the stories of real people. we elevate the stories of ordinary people in order to inspire connections past andonst present. so what we do here at the tenement museum is not talk about the history of immigration and migration, but also talk about its connections and reverberations to today. in a few hours, some of you might have home to watch the third act of a debate where
probably not much of substance ab well,. so we are excited to watch them tonight to have a really substantial conversation about immigration past and present with two of our most favorite scholars and people who have worked with us behind the scenes with our educators and on our exhibit. some of you are family members of the speakers here. the parents and sister we are also a family. so come back and welcome tonight to this program. one nice thing i was going to say is i don't know in 1885 the german émigre got off the boat and he came to deutsch land, this neighborhood two blocks
from here and as a barber store and his name is friedrich thompson. so, all of these immigrations will come together tonight in some way. i'm going to do a quick introduction. i have a phone. you might want to turn off the volume. okay, i did it. and i also want to thank tom edison are helping sponsor these talks. so tyler is a professor of history and former chair of the history department at georgeth washington university. his first book, nativism and slavery when the avery craven prize at the organization of american historians. his second book when the newiz york city book of 2001. it's probably him on one of the most top bread books. and he served as a consultant to
martin scorsese although i am told martin didn't listen -- and his ancestors came to new york from southwest germany, poland, ukraine and russia. and he will give a little bit of a presentation and then suketu mehta from new york universityit will be interviewing and i'm having a conversation. suketu mehta acidity of award-winning finalist for the pulitzer prize. his work has been published in "the new yorker," "new york times" magazine, "national geographic," harper's magazine, time and "newsweek" and has been featured on npr's fresh air all things considered. associate professor of journalism at new york university. he is currently working on a nonfiction book about immigrants in contemporary new york.
when that comes up, tyler will come and interview him here. he was born in calcutta and her. raised in bombay. one thing to do tonight after you watch the debate, if you want to be cheered up, google has article called the melting pot about one building in queens that tells the story of all the different people sharing an apartment building in the story that's provided a lot of inspiration for us here at the tenement museum. without further ado, please join me in welcoming tyler anbinder. [applause] >> banks, and a for that kind welcome. thank you all for coming.lc so i was asked to give a 10 to 15 minute overview of "city of dreams." i have to admit that if a daunting task if you've seen the book. it is a big book in itself a lot
of stories, but i will do my best to summarize it in 10 to 15 minute period one thing i'm always asked is why i wrote the book. i thought i would maybe mention not. in part, i was inspired because as i worked on my second vote, i came across so much great material that i couldn't use because of stories in the event that that didn't take place in a four block area. and so as they accumulated all of these great stories, i thought i really needreally something -- some other way in which to convey them. the other main thing that inspired me was i wanted a narrative challenge. i've loved writing and i put a lot of work in to my writing in a fight over sometimes every word, sometimes way too long. but i had written kind of your
typical historical books than i wanted a challenge and i thought that writing the history of new york immigrants are early 17 century to the present would be such a challenge and assuredly was.le the final reason i wanted to write "city of dreams" as it is just such a great story. i found just writing it made me happy, telling the stories which sometimes the stories are terrible. sometimes they are uplifting. but they always teach you something. so i just felt like it was a story that i had to tell. even though the book islam, tony three chapters and tells the story of a lot of immigrant groups that have come to new york. it focuses on the biggest immigrant groups for each entry in the city's history. in a 17th century, the focus is on the dutch and english in
the 18th century the englishn t and irish in the 19th century the irish and german and eastern european jewish and italian from the 20 century jewish, italian, puerto rican, dominican, chinese, wes indians and so forth. even though you might think how could you bring those -- all those diverse stories together into one narrative, the book is held together by several teams. though i tried to do it in a very subtle way. i didn't want the reader to be hit over the head with here is what you should be thinking nowh i tried to make a subtle and i hope i succeeded or not. but there are a couple of themes this is an image that was probably taken not very far from here of a garment worker, probably an italian garmentnd
worker. so one team of the book is the immigrant experience has notthei very much history. one thing i found is the dutch really weren't that different at their core than english. english weren't that different than the scots from the irish, the irish from the german cover germans from italians, et cetera all the way up today for the biggest growing immigrant in terms salvation. the story is almost always the same.. on her journey to america struggling to adjust with very little assimilation better for their lives and their children. we tend to anchor the experience of our own ethnic group as unique and of course in some sense every ethnic group using s period the immigration experience is the same.
anti-immigrant sentiment is as consistent as being as immigration. per microgram 1900 for some of the same ideas you might throughout american history, american i worry about margaretd the dutch were very anti-englisy they thought the english would ruin america and the place they created and by the mid-19th century were very anti-catholic. later on, in the same immigrant not only the once anti-catholic but the ones discriminated
against for catholicism becomei. anti-semites. the anti-muslim sentiment today. people's anti-immigrant sentiment at other times they were condemned for being too radical. sometimes people complain immigrant take our jobs.o conse many times throughout new york's history, new yorkers have complained immigrants were part of a secret army plotting to destroy america. so that is something we've heard about american history. the other came out the book, the final game is immigrants aren't
different in an important sense in previous generations ofratio immigrants. today's immigrants aren't like my grandparents. our immigrant parents or great grandparents or even great-great-grandparents.ke ouri they are relatively more oftenty than not the result of our -- our own immigrant. as long as there are people seeking a life for themselves and their children, looking to move to a place where hard work, bold ideas and entrepreneurship are rewarded, new york will. continue. teaming back. [applause]
>> thank you. it's a privilege to be here with you. someone working far too long on a book about immigrants in new york today, all of your achievement. how long did it take you to write this book? >> well, if i have to admit, 15 years. the writing itself maybe four years is a lot of research went into it. i can't start writing until i know more. there is so much to learn and so much to read. 15 years and for writing. >> thank you here that makes me feel so much better. a
i'm only on gear nine of mye ofy book. what made you refer to it in your book? what are the actual -- [inaudible] in the care or is in the book. as an historian, how do you choose one approach over the histories of the politics of our immigration? >> what i want to do more than anything else was write a really good story, something people would want to read and that they wouldn't be able to put down even though it was a very good look. so i feel like it's always best to let historical actors tell their own stories and the
memoirs. you can't always trust memoirs. and so that makes things complicated. you learn your judgment and you hope to get things right. that is my main concern and i hope i succeeded.e stor you have the eight team 60-degree draft riots, which mainly are irish writing against the republicans then there's over 100 that.s there is felix branigan who lives as an irish immigrant
[inaudible] so for that content might not then and a lot of history books, but his own career -- [inaudible] >> share. felix branigan is quoted in dozens of history books as the epitome of the causes of the new york city draft. irish immigrants who don't want to be made african-americans into the police as the war and emancipation. so he cited over and over again an example of this racism and
certainly you can't deny that. what happens with him ishas fascinating. you know, he writes that in 1862. a few months later lincoln issued the emancipationw months proclamation which make safely go now for ex-slaves and blacks to fight in the union army andac they joined by the tens of thousand in yet the army has a lot of trouble -- the army decides only way can be the offices of their units but they have trouble finding white's going to service officers for the black soldiers. strangely what i discovered is one of the soldiers who volunteers to meet one of the regiments is felix braddock in, which struck me as very strange. he does this first in south carolina and men in savanna, georgia in 1864, 1865 and 1866.5
what i thought was even more interesting is after the war, he moves to washington, goes to law school at george washington. and then after the war he gets the job as the u.s. attorney and of all places jackson, mississippi. in jackson, mississippi, his job is primarily to prosecute bootleggers and clansmen. so here you have felix branigan who up until 1862, clearly was not the kind of person who would seem to have much sympathy for african-americans now becoming a prosecutor of those who persecuted them. i thought that was a great story. >> the book is also made me
realize that a personal hero ofr mine, and, had his troubles w cited. so some of my students here in the room and one of the things they like to do on the first day of class i like to take them and study and read the great walt whitman. so use this great celebrator of humanity, of all things new york. but in 1842, and walt whitman was notoriously anti-catholic and anti-irish. there is much discussion about election violence and what will happen during the election. on election day in new york,
each faction attempted to prevent the others from casting their ballot. the fight for a bloody and horrible and extreme. men were so beat about the hat that they could not be recognized as human beings. a detachment of policemen led by the man and invaded the word. the court noted walt whitman approvingly to rebuke the foreign rowdies. they went uptown -- [inaudible] and the hypocrites had that hadd been smashed instead of the window could hardly find it.
so it's interesting you make this connection with election violence and the fact that even a person as humane as with men bullfight to issue against i immigrants.in >> it's hard to appreciate today how protestant american felt their nation was and how much they help protestant to find america and how much they saw catholicism as a threat. so because americans are so many americans that protestant to find america, what made america great gave up our freedoms.s they ascribe american democracy to protestantism.am look at the world and protestant nations could look at the places that's the most scientific ingenuity.nt barry protestant country.
obviously they are breeding history of little odd way. but nonetheless, that is what they believe. they saw catholic immigrants as a threat to that. in this particular case, what then is especially upset about something we can all imagine which is the public school. there is a fight and miss. catholic immigrants coming to new york and sending their kids to public schools were shocked to find the curriculum of the school were overtly protestant hymn of the children werefight, required to send protestant and commit to read from the kingad o james bible and parents of catholic children objected to that. and inside of the same name i see your point, maybe we should, you know, allow catholic children to read an account of version of the bible and so forth, american protestant said
no, the school is protestant because that's what makes america great. if we take it out of the schools, our children and our nation will suffer and people felt very strongly about that and that is what inspired whitman's mms. >> the conflict, also the shining moments of religious tolerance picking up religious liberty. peter tried -- [inaudible] and a group of them who moved to english people, their famous document of religious tolerance, which is actually the mayor bloomberg a few years ago when he made the islamic frontier and
why along with the conflict others have this tradition of tolerance and welcoming. they were eventually supposed to recant. a >> yes.te peter was also not a very tolerant person. for him, and even varieties ofis protestantism were out of line. so he wanted to ban blueprints from new hampshire and the company that ran the colony really had to let the lutherans come in. we can't keep banning people.ouk so then they allowed them to say
the religious. and there is seen as even more of a threat because they are from a protestantism that is quite radical without having a minister be the head, that seems so anti-anarchy. so the queens are flashing ratee this protest and say this really is write what you're doing banishing the quakers. generally cited as the first example is a demand for villages tolerance in what becomes the united states. the part of the story people don't tend to know as he gets the remonstrance and says well, i disagree. he signs it and says you either recant or you are banned, too. most of the people end up recanting disavowing rather than
finding themselves exiled from the colony as well. even in this example where people are playing for religious tolerance, not much is coming forth. >> today the foreign-born population in some sort of historic high point immigration. 27% of the city is foreign-born. two out of three children. but as it speaks in 1855, and then by 1920, 41% dipped in 1972 to a mere 18% and now has come up to 37%.
much of that team, the abend flow. can you talk about the major laws that explain indeed get a p sense of how decisions are made in washington about which groupt you let him when? >> that's a complicated question. first, let me talk about your point about the absurd flow. in particular, to get a sense of how neither is today, how really it is compared in the past. the best example is 1855, where 51% of the city residents are immigrants..what but even more interesting about the number is the fact in those days new york has generally had
much bigger families with lotsts of kid. most of the native born new yorkers for tiny children. in 1855 and a seven out of 10 adults living in new york forr foreign-born. y that's an incredible number compared to today. whereas new york today is a third less than 1855, it's far less so. in terms of how laws affect the abend flow of immigration, theti interesting thing for most of new york history, laws have nothing to do with the abend flow of immigration history andm economics have had much more of an impact. so people have tended to come to the united states, either t because they thought greatom economic opportunity here or because there was a lack of opportunity where they were coming from.
for most of american history, laws that had relatively little impact on the number of immigrants coming to the united states. the first time that impact becomes significant is the chinese exclusion act in 1882 although the chinese are small immigrants comparatively at theo point nationwide, especially small in new york. so lasso may start to have a significant impact on checking the flow of immigrants in the night teen funny is when you have probably the one time in american history where large numbers of both major political parties agreed that immigration should be restricted. it's primarily a result of world war i and in the wake of world war i were there and millions of refugees and familiar situations, millions of refugees in europe what many of them to calm to the united states and americans don't want them to
come. they fear combined with the fear that the roaring 20s economy will somehow be squelched by large numbers of immigrants convinces americans to cut off the flow of immigration. in the 1920s you get these laws that are also very racist in their underpinnings. so the loss is a quasi-inkling you can come to the united states is not limited number. from italy or from russia. they are cut from where we are before world war i by well over 90% and by 1924 by 98%. the immigration from italy, from greece, russia and poland cuts to almost nothing. that's the reason you have your figure they are a 1970 with the immigrant population of new york as the love. o
only in 1965 that congress changes those laws and goes back to assist them where no one country gets privilege over. another. and then the fidelity in terms to the flow is there some unintended consequences from thm 1965 law, with puts in place a numerical limit but there are exceptions to those limits for family members of immigrants already in the united states. the lawmakers don't anticipate how many family members of asian immigrants or latino immigrants are going to want to come to the united states. so that is one of the reasons why immigration rose so much more rapidly after 1970. >> my uncle came here as an engineer to detroit in the early 1970s.
by the early 1980s, we had some 50 members of my family over here. but now after that, we'll which i understand -- [inaudible] >> so that's not quite right. the important thing to know not about the diversity lottery is you can only qualify if you come from a country that has very few immigrants in the united statesy now. so people from the major, even than that bind countries that are represented amongst american population aren't eligible for the diversity. that is however the reason you are getting larger numbers of immigrants from africa than we've had before and some prices up america that we had before and from some part of central asia. really only those places
followed by diversity. >> you've got some really good depictions of the way peopleyo make their way here, particularly the irish and the conditions -- [inaudible] >> sure. if ever you think you've had a bad travel experience, you should just think about what the irish emigrant signature mesh and the grants for that matter, what pretty much all immigrants coming to the united statesth before the advent steamships hard to go through. the irish situation was by farwy the worst because they were so
poor and they squeezed coming in now, many more immigrants into the ships. your typical compartment wouldn't have been much bigger than the about the right size, i but maybe this is too wide actually. about this length, but a slide. you could hide in a room like this, what do we have here? 75, 100 people? he would have had 200 people and maybe 400 people in this space. some ships 500 people. how did you do that? well, you had bunks and said they would go from floor to ceiling. in addition, you would sleep two or three per bunk. one of the worst part is you didn't necessarily care to share the bunk with someone you knew because if you were a singlein woman and there is a family of
three, space or one representing about, you had to squeeze in with that family. so the american civil war decided to segregate single women from all the men. it turns out that not only -- first they segregate single men and single women, but they are just as bad at roasting the single women and so they just end up all the women have to be separate from all the men on the ship. but that only happens by the 1870s. so they are crammed into these bunks and one of the big problems have been on the ship was life as a big problem. not the nine had place we have today, which is embarrassing, but these are body lice. in the body lice would make you
say because they would on you and then the lice would get under your skin and it had bacteria in it and you got what was known as a high fever, vomiting. this is a terrible thing. imagine you are not on the top bunk and the people have fever above you. where is that bomb it going? it's going right on you. you're talking about burlap or words of the is coming right down on you and it's just terrible. bash is one of the many diseases you could catch on a ship. so at the height of the irish potato famine, it was common for a couple dozen people to be dead and a couple dozen more to dieie because they thought they weredo infected and not very thick
vanilla bland. and it's cheaper to go to canada initially. hundreds of people die. it was an awful experience. you know what happened when they get here that really blew my mind. no buddy's name got changed at ellis island.. every immigrant movie we've ever seen the immigration guy could turn out the long polish or german name. it did not happen. >> one of the most prevalent
one. they had no authority to give them a name. you are just pass. that's in your hand is that here's your new name. nobody could say to you here is your new name. but you have to realize is each immigrant they have that process and one minute. by law, each inspector has to, ask immigrants 30 questions. what's the theory i assist a lot of immigrant decides changed their name to try to make ends a more american. we often laugh at how un-american they chose fire.were
and later they say it was the guy who made me do it when in fact he was the immigrantsislano themselves. >> when they came near and also the narrative that they carried with them dean noted american jewish historian at nyu. we have a line to get into this country. the native americans with my grip on mars are full of examples of people who lie. they lied about their ages, they lied about their occupation. the road went through emigrant
ships. people lie to the pure because they could be liable for military inscription. but the strategic narrative thae has to be offered when they got off the ship. >> there are kind of two parts to that. one is what you might call tradition of lying in. of course, up until the opening of ellis island, there is noco u need to live because there were no scary questions asked. they look in your mouth to makea sure you won't say -- were athe stake. it's especially with the opening of ellis island in 1892 issue have this culture of lying that you began. the funny thing is people lied about things that they didn't need to lie about. we find that all of time. people added years to their age
and subtract figures to theireds age. they claim different jobs which was totally relevant because people at ellis island would assume the matter what your job was that you were lying.th so while they look for this they assume as long as you could wield a shovel or pick you could make it in america. it was someone who looked so sickly that they couldn't do those things that would be turned away.in but the other part that i want to mention that maybe you're not referring to is we tend to think of illegal immigration as this modern recent phenomenon. as i talk about in this book, illegal immigration goes back 100 years and really more in american history. as soon as those laws were put in place in the 1920, immigrants are sneaking into the united states. but it's jewish immigrants and italian immigrants of the early
20th century. and yet, that is a totally forgotten story and elected in 1920 and pretty much the exact same stories you can read today about illegal immigrants from mexico or china are written except the protagonists are from italy or russia and they get on. boats, and they sneak in apartments. they take boats over the border. they sent the rivers, they do all the things illegal immigrants use today, but they were from greece or russia or italy and was totally forgotten that story and yet it is a huge part of american immigration and would've been the story for a lot of people who lived in this. neighborhood. >> you write the story of immigrants in this country yet not at all at its heart. contemporary immigrants in
totally different. they come from nations and mike previous immigrants. sometimes familiar to both native new yorkers. they appear to make no effort to learn english..ic they seem to live holy cut from mainstream society and let previous generations pertaining many types that are homeless. their economic vitality. even one well-known new yorker in 2015, quote, they are bringing drugs. they are bringing crime. who might this well-known new yorker beef? >> you want me to answer? that is donald trump in 2016. yeah, so i think trump is
perpetuating a lot of the both myths about contemporary immigration, but what you can say is he's following a long tradition in which americans have a precise at those things about immigrants for 400 years. so i'm not tense, trump is very much part of the american industry. >> i went to high school with guys like donald trump. [inaudible] and my parents who were -- [inaudible] and you know, i would run like from the italian and irish and germans and daily teach me again and it was really a racist place. the working class enclave by
other minority and now they are all welcomed by sheer numbers. the trump grew up in the united states, which is who grew up always. and now it's not. so, we don't like him -- part of the country of really gives him a message and by reading this book, i understood the long tradition of not just immigration, and that the very strong and races. talk about some of the earlier donald trump's today. >> sure. well, there are too many to
name, but you know, one example i mentioned in the book is congressman mark martin died of texas who in the 1920s propose a lot of the same things trump has proposed today. the one thing he wanted to do was first he wanted to cut off all immigration. he says there's too many immigrants and we have to have y rest. nomar immigrants in the country. but he went even further. the second thing he wanted to do was to depart the immigrants who are already here who have thaty become american citizens yet. he says we could give all the immigrants one year and ifr they're not an american citizen within one year they are kicked out of the country. and what he was implying was that immigrants had a choice,
that you had to be in the united states five years before you could become naturalized. for a lot of immigrants, that wasn't even an option. congress seriously debated proposals so they ended up not getting the knack. but that is one example. t against the other example i talk about in the book, the know nothing party which was the anti-immigrant and especially anti-irish in the 1850s. what is interesting is in contrast for some people. the know nothings for all their faults never wanted to restrictg immigration. they never called for restrictions on people coming to the united states. they did what you blast in the political influence of immigrants. so in that case what they wanted was a 21 year rate before immigrants could go. v
five years for almost all american immigrants. they said someone born in the united states has to wait 21 years before they can though. why shouldn't immigrants have to but 21 years so that never gets enacted either, but to elect more than 100 people to congres in 1854 and so there are very sy significant. not a majority of the population, that a very significant minority. that's been a constant inthat american history both americans thinking of the nation of a land of immigrants, but a large number of americans thinking today's immigrants aren't the right people. we don't want these people anymore. if we can't have immigrants we shouldn't like my grandparents who should not more and nothing going on for as long as we've been a nation.d >> i don't think any group inn the country has the muslims. you are right, in 2015, 56% of
americans view the values of islam with americans so trump removed the muslim been. a very large minority who originally went along with it. yet every argument typically would be a good one except religion and pluralism for democracy and several different followed the dictates for foreign religious leaders and the rest of american society so they can have the tenets of their religion are and compatible to make america great are catholics. [inaudible]
but, talk a little bit about muslim immigration to the country. >> well, one thing i will point out about that passage ,-com,-com ma i haven't heard hillary clinton say something like that, the president upon a couple months ago said pretty much exactly that in a speech, speech i didn't think was well enough covered because trump gets all of these attention. so new york actually has them much longer experience with muslim immigrants than most people know. we have to have believe it or not a little serious. serum immigrants have a long history and the begin of the 20th century and the early have 1900s, it can to kind of the lower west side of manhattan, kind of on the westside south of where the world trade and i was, along washington street in
particular. and so, this is a fairly large, with a brand. and those days, what we call c serious today and will be called lebanon today, a little more heterogeneous than you might imagine. it is a mixed religious community with christian and mid must end. but it is a large and well-known part of the city in one of the mark topic in a great neighborhood whenever people would write a profiles of ethnic new york, with little syria was part of the description. it kind of disappears for reasons that nobody is exactly sure about after world war i that there is a much more immigration from there and it appears the immigrant booth to parts of the united states. dietrich became a particular place for a lot of serum syrian immigrants moved from the city's
memory. >> today the largest group of immigrants in the dominican, it depends how you find that is growing.g. the mexicans according to the most recent figure, the mexican immigration has fought both offg the immigrant population in new york would be south asian muslims. so happenstance, bangladesh inne terms of sheer numbers, still chinese immigrant and very sadmn demographers say they will outnumber dominican immigrants in new york.
>> african, and in terms of proportion that >> in terms of proportion, the immigrant population and they have by far the lowest proportion of the population. the city by 37% and is about 25% foreign-born. so is the smallest amount.ion ve they have changed and the kind of people who come here. and may be accepted into the nation the way in which they
come here and assimilate. i wonder if in one way things have changed. they weren't able to go back to their homeland regularly. they might go back two or three times.o i'm not at all. with the availability of international airfares. and sometimes they go back two or three times a year. does that make it more possible to continuously refresh their homeland. refre and also for there to be a less
fomenting part, must demand that we for long to an american. [inaudible] their italian emigrant who come here, work nine months and two back year after year after year. so they too are refreshing their foreign identity as it were. the most famous example of this are not at all the only example. so we think, and it's a jet plane we get there in 10 hours, whatever. but to someone 100 years ago, making it across the atlantic in
this team ship in days seems fantastic also. and seems to bring amazingly close.ac so i stand i certainly understand what you are saying. but immigrants in the past also had lots of other ways to stay in touch with today it might beo texting and that seems so instantaneous. for someone who doesn't know texting, the telegraph is in containing s. and amazing. and so, the emigrant newspaper is another thing where you could live in new york for decades and never picked up an english-language newspaper and you could read the paper every day and whatever your native language was in that paper would not have very much new york news. it would have all been his for their homeland, so it was as if he was still in half an hour in coming in now, whatever you
might be from because you find that news every day. and so, i don't think the difference is as great as you might tank. certainly from the immigrant state of mind i think was remarkably similar. they saw themselves as very much in touch with their homeland from a very connected and very aloof from america which seems so foreign to them outside of their emigrant enclave. >> your own family emigrated from europe and came to this neighborhood and move to brunswick. i was reminded of that great [inaudible] , about his growing up. and then you talk about the importance of food in the jewish
community and the jewish city occupying similarly to the irish. so tell us a little bit about the immigration to new york. >> so, i have ancestors who came from what is now southwest germany and from poland and from what is now ukraine, what is now belarus and what is now russia. the earliest of my immigrant ancestors came to the united states around 850 country in 1850, the ones from germany. they settled in buffalo before they ended up in new york city. .. poland but then was the part f
poland that prussia had taken over back in the 1870s and then this up to's don't come to united states until the early 20th century and they are the ones in particular who lived exclusively in this neighborhood as garment workers and my great-grandfather who was a until finally he saved up enough money to bring the rest of the family which was myyof great-grandmother and my grandfather and his four or five sisters. they come over in the early 1920s. as soon as pretty much as soon as they get here, he moves the family to brooklyn, to brownsville, they're constantly looking to save money, brownsville a little while and move further east to east new york.
then they move what might be the new loch area. when they finally kind of do better they circle back and head towards flatbush, and that's where they end up. although i think that the anbinders that my anbinder grandfather probably met my anbinder grandmother in east new york because i was able to trace through the census where they lived and through the city directors annie uses a lot with the tenement museum. only one point they lived block away. that is my guess how they met. >> i have a young jewish friend who bought an apartment here on the lower east side which is the now the hippest neighborhood in the city. when her jewish grandmother heard about this, threw her hands up in horror and said, i spent half my life trying to get
out of this place. [laughter] we've got about 15, 20 minutes for questions. [inaudible]. >> here it comes. >> i wonder, do you think that we americans have learned anything and, if we have, what has been the process, and what is blocking us both? >> that's a great question. i think what you see over the 400 years that i cover in the book is that americans are very slowly but surely becoming morel tolerant. it's, it's kind of in fits and starts and doesn't always progress in a straight line but,
i think americans are overall becoming more tolerant and i think the proportion of thethin population that looks at him and thinks immigrants are a positive for american society is probably at an all-time high. when you look unhappiness with immigration today, a huge part of it is illegal immigration. may seem surprising given the political climate today but when you look at the polling numbers about questions about immigration, most americans, a huge majority of immigrants have no problem with immigrants, legal immigrants. it is illegal immigrants that is the biggest problem. that's a huge change because for most of american history, any kind of immigrant was seen as a threat. so i feel like it may be hard to see, given the political campaign today, i would say oni the other hand think about how
the campaign is going. think about how the republican nominee has not been bringing up immigration. that is because he has learned it is not such a winning issue. that he can't get a majority of voters using immigration as something to attract voters. sure, there is a sizable minority but, but not as big asn he once thought. there have been lots of presidential candidates who have tried to use opposition to immigration to win the presidency. pat buchanan was one. the governor of california, what is his name? 20 years ago,. >> pete wilson. >> pete wilson, exactly. they made that the centerpiece of their campaigns and they always failed. so my guess is it's going to fail again. another question?
[inaudible] wait for the microphone. >> i have a question about climbing the social ladder among the immigrants. as i understand, earlier in american history there were mostly people, people from agrarian countries and poor countrys who are coming here.ri well, now what we have well-schooled and hopeful people immigrating to the america. how does that affect the social ladder on the part of immigrants in america look like now? so i think in, you're absolutely right. the main reason that has changed is that the immigration laws that have been enacted since h 1965, have favored, have given
second biggest preference to people with job skills in short supply. so that could be engineers, like perhaps in your family, nurses. so we have in new york, a lot of filipino nurses. in the whole country a lot off filipino nurses. yes, it is definitely true is there a lot of skilled immigrants but they're not the majority. and so for what's still the majority who are people come with relatively few job skills, the story is very much the same in which immigrants tend not to move very far up the ladder themselves. with the exception of being if they become successful entrepreneurs. so if you look at their occupations, they don't move up very much but in terms of their financial status they typically improve their lives a lot but then you do have today which is a change, this large minority os
immigrants who have been let into the country because they're i.t. specialists or doctors ands so forth. for them, for them there isn't so much moving up a, an occupational ladder as it is perhaps adjusting to, hard to describe, kind of, becoming socially acceptable, becoming mainstream becomes a big concern. and something you see that those immigrants will write about. their frustration, that i have one, one example, i mentioned in the book of this doctor from india, who complains that, that, people meet him, are you a taxi driver? it makes him so mad because, because that's the stereotype. and so that, to many of those immigrants is the biggest concern. how do you override those, those
prejudices rather than move up an economic ladder. [inaudible] >> [inaudible] >> yeah, the comment was, she t imagined it would be similar with immigrants who become writers and i imagine you're exactly right. >> this is sort of following up on the point that woman just made about the jobs and moving up the ladder. particularly in new york, do you see that immigrant groups come and take the jobs of police officers, firemen? because i've noted in the last few years a tremendous amount of south asians, traffic officers and police officers. i think it follows the pattern. i wonder if that is continuing? or something that i just happen to notice anecdotally or is it for real? >> well, certainly what you
have, certainly in new york the the police department and the city government in general is making a big effort to have their public face, though in particular groups like the police, match the faces of new yorkers more generally, especially with police where you need trust, having more police who represent the ethnic diversity of new york is something that has been important.ol i guess the difference would beb the irish managed to dominate the police force when they came to new york in a way that you don't see anymore, and that i find kind of interesting. that irish-americans are still a very large presence in the new york police force even though irish immigrants aren't such a large presence. so yeah, in some ways, definitely has changed but in some ways not as much as you might expect. >> i've actually been following the police for my book, so i followed the police academy for
one class and a class of 900 recruits spoke 47 different languages. at the graduation ceremony in madison square garden, they had 35,000 cops there and, you know, the people who were at the top of the class were beinge being celebrated. valedictorian was someone with anglosaxon name but the number two person in the whole class was a short, bangladeshi man, mohamed islam and he gets up and salutes and nypd marching band which is conposed irish bagpipers steps forward to serenade him this is the nypd today. >> that's a great story. who has got the microphone? >> i have a question -- like i find it very interesting how you bring up the shift how the immigrant population, how they shift to who gets the shaft,
basically gets the brunt, how do i say the word, prejudices? because as first-generation born chinese immigrant of child of immigrants, i have noticed within the chinese community there's a huge, huge skirmish in that you have a whole community who has like huge dialogue about how, about the anti-muslim sentiment and for many of us we're listening to, reading about it in our community's newspapers and listening to the radios, and you have a lot who are very upset people who within our community who are soco anti-muslim. we're trying to explain to them what you're express something compete hypocrisy, considering the people who came before us, had to deal with the chinese exclusion. based upon your experience what can be done to heal this rift
with the community that it had to deal with it? >> i mean, what you're describing there just a story that is, that is replayed in american history over and over again. the group that is discriminated against turns right around and becomes the chief discriminator against the next group of immigrants. the english did it to the irish. the irish did it to the italians. the italians did it to the puerto ricans and right on to the present and so, there seems to be, you know, when you ask why, because obviously that's the same, your rationale is the same one that occurs to me. the hypocrisy, how could you do that? yet immigrants, one of the ways immigrants assimilate, they are what they define america and this new group doesn't. they quickly forget the way they have been portrayed and, and you could argue, you know, if i was
a school exist maybe i could make a good argument for this. you could argue even part of the process of becoming american and part of what makes you feelbe american is to express that prejudice, that you see, you see your quote-unquote, american friends do it, so you are going to do it too. that is something that is not surprising. >> i just want to bring up two points to carry on with what the gentleman said before. things i have actually have friends in the asian community are serving in fdny and nypd. they did tell me something very interesting, when they were being recruited they did feel that there was a sense that there was an extra effort to recruit within the minority community. so it will reflect the city, the changing faces of new york, and when i look at the nypd and fdny. they're not just serving at houses in elizabeth street and chinatown. they're throughout the five
boroughs, which i think is great. and to carry on what you're saying, we have an older generation, that's to be honest, ashamed of the younger generation that is working with the american civil liberties union to help promote the tolerance for the muslim community. just -- >> that's fascinating. >> thank you. i have a question about ellis island. you said about people, if they looked as though they couldn't use a shovel or too weak, i know there was a hospital there, but were they kept there until their health improved or with were they sent back? who paid for that? presumably if they got off the horrible ship and really sick and put on another horrible ship and probably died on the way back. >> that's a good point.. the way it was, if you had a curable disease you were put in
the hospital at ellis island to allow to try to recover.os if you did, then you would be let into the country. that is what happen actually to my grandfather and my great-aunt apparently after suffering through world war i and there is the famine in the ukraine and so i about the time they get here they're apparently really sick. so they're in the hospital at ellis island for six weeks until they're finally let into country. i if you have something that is curable, you're allowed to recover. if you have something that incurrable, one of the things that got you excluded was this disease called trachoma, which was an eye infection. that was before antibiotics was not durable. if you had -- curable. if you had that you were sent back. tragedy a lot of people didn't know they had it. it was often atomtic. you could get to the united
states and never know you're sick until you got there and were turned around. but the one starting in 1909 there was an -- the head of ellis island was a guy named william williams, and he believed, too many, what he called riffraff immigrants were being allowed into the united states. so he on his own changed the interpretation of the laws and made them more stricter. so one of the things he did was people who he instructed the inspectors to take people who weren't sick but looked like they were congenitally weak, and this was used mostly again eastern european jews. e this person, he is never going to be able to wield a pick axe and so that became a new way by which you could ban people. and you couldn't go to the hospital and get better from that. but what does happen is the jewish immigrant aid
organizations become very fierce defenders of people who are singled out for that, so a lot of them who are initially told they have to go home are eventually let in because of the efforts of these attorneys. should we let a question from the back? i feel bad for the back there. i don't see any hands back there yet either. maybe that is the quiet section. is your hand up way in the back? no? all right. >> can you talk a little bit about, you know, housing policy and how it relates to the immigrant experience both like in the past and now? >> sure. you know for much of, for much
of new york's history there is, there are no housing codes. and with the main, the main thing that dick it at thatted the shape and size of new york's houses was the shape of the lot which was typically 25 feet by 100 feet. which creates this very narrow type of building. and the height of the buildings was dictated by how much they cohold before collapse. height of the buildings is six stories and that was high as you could build them before they would topple over on the building before them. starting in the late 19th century housing codes developed and start to put in restrictione and so in some ways, reformers believe in through legislation they could make the immigrants
lives better. laws are put in place, for instance, a limit on number of people who can occupy a single apartment or single space. those laws are frequently flouted. the best post of immigrant new york, when he would go on inspection tours and health police and find these overcrowded buildings. new york landowners have always been very creative in how to get around the good intentions of reformers and so at one point a law is put in saying every room has to have a window. and so the thought is, in that way if you have to build 10 thatment, if 10 thatments -- 10 aments they will knock holes in the wall to let out fresh air. what do they do? put the window between one room and another room in thee apartment and that way they satisfy the law. the landlords wield a lot of
political crowd. that law officially didn't allow for that. this is the 10 ament act they talk about passage of law and rarely the way the law is scaled back because of pressure from new york city's politically powerful landlords. there is the intention to make i housing policy to make immigrants lives better. i should say not just landlords. immigrants themselves are fighting against these things too. immigrants want as many boarders as possible to make their economic lives better. so there is no one group that is, that you can say is solelyo responsible for the, failures of the housing policy to improve
immigrants lives. >> i just want to take that opportunity to jump in, to say if you want to see an apartment with one of those windows that in partition, we've got a few. and i also, first of all, thank you both for this wonderful textured layered, wonderful conversation. [applause] several people in the audience are educators and take the wonderful information and bring it back to respond to your questions as well. and i think to end kind of a positive note, i wanted to talk in a 30 seconds, of the first woman voter at 97 orchard street. was a woman named sarah. she was immigrant and came from romania.
we know about her because she was the first woman voter and we were able to locate her children who talked about her life and her daughter, jacqueline bernascu richter, related growing up in the 1920s she and her sister had two best friends who were sisters, chinese sisters, they went to each other's houses for food and they had this nice relationship and she remembered her mother saying about the lower east side and the tenements, you learn to judge people by themselves, not how they are. that is how we made friends. we were not taught bigotry. there is good and bad in every race, creed and color. you stay away from troublemakers and make friends with the nice people. i think these nice words can buoy us against this tradition of the times in which there is anti-immigrant sentiment, there is also this idea of new york being a place where people froma all of these different places have come together and developed a kind of commonplaceace
cosmopolitanism. cosmopolitanism of daily lifeis that we at the tenement you museum talk about as well and having this conversation helps us tremendously. thank you all. you can buy this book, oh, one last thing. there was the joke, talking about immigrants who changed their names. thank you also for sharing that, because we have 220,000 visitors every year and approximately 25% of them will bring that up, that their names were changed at ellis island. this helps in our crusade to rid people of that notion. but you can purchase this book, 15% off here. and have it signed, but, just bear with us. what we need to do because we are not a fancy museum or fancy place but just the humble tenement museum, we'll move the autograph table will function in the back. if you stay in your seats to keep us safer two seconds while we move that back.
we will dismiss you. you can go. hope you stay, purchase a book and have a conversation. and thank you again for this wonderful conversation and your wonderful questions and presence. thank you so much. [applause] >> i looked it up for that -- [inaudible conversations] >> i will wait for the new one. >> thanks a lot. >> thank you so much. >> here's look at some authors recently featured on booktv's "after words," our weekly author interview program. johns hopkins environmental health sciences professor, ellen sibergeld, reported on industrial meat production.
georgetown university philosopher professor, jason brennan provided a critical look at democracies. harvard business school professor, eugene solstice, talked about motivations for white-collar criminals. in the coming weeks on "after words," a doctor discusses how our bodies react to fat. "new york" magazine's jonathan hate, weighs in on the legacy of president barack obama. a philosophy professor explores whether happiness comes from frugality. this weekend, "wall street journal" editor joanne ludland looks at women that climbed the ladder. >> maybe they asked the women to take on these roles because no man was willing to do so. and, women, because of how we perceive their roles as leaders, because of unconscious biases
are still seen as something of an odd duck, particularly when they get in the ceo role. so they are subject to greater scrutiny. but by the same token, perhaps they're more willing to take on some high-risk assignments because they want to prove they can do it. in mary's case, she stepped into a company that was doing relatively well at that time and then the proverbial you know what hit the fan with this huge, we call crisis. many deaths due to the problems they were having with their cars. and i think frankly there were many doubting thomass who didn't see mary as surviving what was one of gm's worst crises in years, if not ever. and i think to her credit she not only weathered the storm, she took personal responsibility for getting right and making it right. she made it clear in her town