DECEMBER 2002

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The Hidden Immigrants

Immigrants descend from an airplane in the last of seven murals from Immigration on the Lower East Side, by Richard Haas.

One of New York City's many tributes to immigrant life is hidden from passersby, covered by the trees that line White Street.

A series of murals, called Immigration on the Lower East Side, stretch along the wall of the White Street Detention Center at the intersection with Baxter Street in Chinatown.

Created by Richard Haas in 1989, the seven panels show changing waves of immigration, beginning with people arriving on steamboats and ending with immigrants stepping down from an airplane (pictured right).

The middle panels show historical scenes from immigrant life in the surrounding neighborhood - people working in sewing factories and hand laundries.

Haas' original design for the panel showing contemporary Lower East Side life - complete with a homeless person and a wrecked car - created a public-art controversy. The artist redrew the panel to show a fruit vendor, a musical group, and a circle of domino players.


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