Everett Shinn painted Tenements at Hester Street in 1900. Explore the living conditions at the turn of the century. Did people have central air conditioning and heating?
Do research to learn why neighborhoods differ. How would you design your own community?
SOCIAL STUDIES/LANGUAGE ARTS
Discuss how the influx of immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century changed the social landscape of New York. What problems were caused by mass immigration? What are the positive effects? Interview family members and research their roots for immigration stories.
Which American authors have written about the immigrant experience? In the early twentieth century? Recently? List some of their books.
Discuss the city dwellers sleeping outside on a hot night in Shinn’s Tenements at Hester Street. Why are these people outside? How would this scene be different in a rural area? Have students write a short story from the point of view of one of the figures, describing this experience. Students could describe how an occurrence like this would affect one’s relationship with others in their community.
Document community events in your city or neighborhood and compile them into a “What’s Happening” newsletter or Web site.
Step into the shoes of one of the city dwellers in Tenements at Hester Street, and write a first-hand account of the evening in the painting.
After viewing Tenements at Hester Street, Mrs. J. P. Morgan, opened a facility to help unfortunate people in New York. Discuss how art can bring positive changes in our communities.
As a newspaper artist, Shinn had to quickly visualize and record events for daily deadlines. Have students study Tenements at Hester Street for thirty seconds, scanning for as many details as possible. Then close the image and try to recall the details. Do different students recall the same details? Look at the picture again to see if the details were remembered correctly.
To study diversity in communities, collect advertisements, photos, and drawings for different ethnic restaurants, markets, and shops in your neighborhood. Then create a collage, gluing clippings into a neighborhood assemblage.
VISUAL ARTS/SOCIAL STUDIES
Artist-reporters like Shinn illustrated the stories in the daily newspapers. Illustrate a current newspaper article. First discuss the main point of the newspaper story and list some of the details. Then summarize these ideas in an illustration.
Artists play an important role in chronicling the changes within a city. Gather images and photographs of New York City from different eras to the present. Discuss how the appearance of New York City has changed over the years. Then identify change within your own city.
SOCIAL STUDIES/FOREIGN LANGUAGE STUDIES/VISUAL ARTS
Design and illustrate a storyboard about an immigrant child who moves to a city in a new country. What problems would he or she face in the new country? Neighborhood? School? How could these obstacles be overcome?