I met my cousin, aunt and uncle at the port and we all went to their tenement. At first, the city was like a dream. It smelled different than home, the streets were lined with immigrants just like me and by the time we got to Greenpoint, a neighborhood in Brooklyn where my family and other Polish immigrants were staying, New York City began to feel like home.
Once we got to the tenement, I saw just how cramped everyone one was. My cousin's family was living with six others in a seven room tenement, and there was hardly room for all of us. But still, it was less cramped than back home, and to me it felt cozy knowing all those other families were close by, a reminder of my roots. I was thankful just to have a place to stay in this big city, and a job to go to.
My cousin secured a factory job for me where she worked, and together we started going to work, with her teaching me English during our short breaks. I wasn't able to send home as many wages as I'd hoped, but it was enough. My mother was pleased with my contribution.
From the time my cousin and her family left, I had heard that America was a place of freedom. But I knew from my cousin's letters that sometimes was not the case for the poor, but also not for the Jewish. Outside of Greenpoint, people were sometimes rude and looked at me differently because I was a woman. But it wasn't as bad as it was back home.
Your kind shouldn't be here on our streets! You immigrants are ruining America!
But eventually, I got used to the city. I even liked it more than home. Yes, it wasn't quite like home but the people and culture here in Greenpoint served as great reminders of it. I enjoyed being able to provide for my family, and I started a new life here.
I met a man who was a factory worker in New York and after a few months, I decided to marry him. Mother was quite happy at this, as she had been wanting me to marry someone soon. Eventually, once my grandmother had passed on my mother decided to come to New York too and lived with my husband and our three children. Now, New York feels more like home to me than Poland ever will, and I am happy I live in Greenpoint still, it's like a little piece of home is never lost. My life is invariably better than back in Poland, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to be here, it has changed me for the better.