Statement of Significance (as of designation - April 19, 1994):
This six-story brick tenement is an outstanding survivor of the vast number of humble buildings that housed immigrants to New York during the greatest wave of immigration in American history. Erected in 1863-64, it represents the first rush of tenement building in New York City. The top two floors of this 97 Orchard Street contain rooms, wallpaper, plumbing, and lighting preserved as they were left almost 60 years ago, when they were boarded up and sealed until their discovery in 1988. Something of an urban time machine, the building is able to convey a vivid sense of the deplorable living conditions experienced by its tenants, which, during its 72-year tenure as housing, may have numbered as many as 10,000.