Haunting photos capture the life inside the squalid New York’s tenements, 1885-1900

The boom in New York's population from the mid-1800s led to the rise of tenement housing in lower Manhattan. Tenements were low-rise buildings containing many apartments, which were narrow and usually made up of three rooms.

Because rents were low, tenement housing was a common choice for new immigrants to New York City. It was common for a family of 10 to live in a 325-square-foot (30-sq-m) apartment. Buildings often cover 90% of a standard 25-by-100-foot lot, with only front and rear windows and ventilation.

These photographs were taken by Jacob Rees, a Danish expatriate who settled in New York in 1870. His photographs of the poor life of New York immigrants made him the most famous photographer of his day and he was credited with bringing reform, which offered some hope. The poorest residents of the booming city.

In the United States, the term tenement initially meant a large building containing several smaller spaces for rent. As cities developed in the nineteenth century, the separation between the rich and the poor increased.

With rapid urban development and immigration, overcrowded homes with poor sanitation gained a reputation as slums.

The expression "tenant house" was used to designate a building subdivided to provide cheap rental housing, which was initially a subdivision of a larger house.

In the early 1850s, purpose-built homes with up to six floors had several houses on each floor. Various names were introduced for better housing, and eventually, modern apartments dominated American urban life.

In the Lower East Side of New York City in the early 1830s or possibly the 1820s on Mott Street, three- and four-story buildings were converted into "railroad flats", as the rooms were designed to resemble a train's cars. were associated with. , with windowless interior rooms.

Adapted buildings were also known as "rookeries" and were of particular concern, as they were prone to collapse and catch fire. Mulberry Bend and Five Points were the sites of notorious gangsters that the city worked for decades to clean up.

In both rookie and purpose-built homes, communal water taps and water closets (either private or "school sinks", which opened into a vault that were often closed) were squeezed into small open spaces between buildings. was.

In parts of the Lower East Side, the buildings were older and had courtyards, usually occupied by machine shops, stables, and other businesses.

Such houses were especially prevalent in New York, where a report in 1865 stated that 500,000 people lived in unsanitary homes.

One of the reasons New York had so many housing was the large number of immigrants; Another was the grid plan on which roads were laid, and the economic practice of building on 25- to 100-foot lots combined to produce higher land coverage.

Before 1867, houses often covered more than 90 percent, were five or six storeys high, and had 18 rooms per floor, of which only two received direct sunlight. The yards were a few feet wide and were often filled with privy. The interior rooms were not ventilated.

In the early 19th century, many of the poor were kept in basements, which became even less sanitary after the Croton Aqueduct brought running water to wealthy New Yorkers: the water table decreased due to well use. increased, and the basement houses were flooded.

Early housing reformers urged the construction of houses to replace the basement, and by early 1859 the number of people living in the cellars began to decline.

The Tenement House Act of 1866, the state legislature's first comprehensive law on housing conditions, prohibits basement apartments unless the ceiling is 1 foot above street level; Requires one water closet per 20 residents and provision for a fire escape; And paid some attention to the space between the buildings.

This was amended by the Tenement House Act of 1879, known as the Old Law, which required coverage of no more than 65 percent.

As of 1869, New York State law defined a "rent house" as "any house or building, or part thereof, which has been rented, leased, or rented". is, or is occupied as a house or residence of three families. or more live independently of each other, and cooking is done by more than two families in the premises or on any floor, hence live and cook, but have rights in the hall, stairway, yard, water closet or private, or some of them."

An 1894 report by the New York State Assembly Tenement House Committee surveyed 8,000 buildings with approximately 255,000 residents and found that New York is the most densely populated city in the world, with an average of 143 people per acre, part of the Lower East Side. with. 800 inhabitants per acre, denser than Bombay.

It used both charts and photographs, the first such official use of photographs. Most purpose-built houses in New York were not slums, although they were not pleasant to live in, especially in hot climates, so people gathered outside, made heavy use of fire escapes, and in the summer by fire. To escape, they slept on roofs, and sidewalks.

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, a five-story brick former tenement building in Manhattan that is a National Historic Landmark, is a museum dedicated to tenement in the Lower East Side.

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