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THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 




THE MOST DENSELY POPULATED SPOT IN THE WORLD THE LOWER EAST SIDE 

OF NEW YORK. 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE 
PROBLEM 



INCLUDING THE REPORT OF THE NEW YORK 

STATE TENEMENT HOUSE COMMISSION 

OF 1900 



BY VARIOUS WRITERS 

EDITED BY 
ROBERT W. DEFOREST AND LAWRENCE VEILLER 



TWO VOLUMES 
VOL. I 



KTefo gorfc 
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., LTD. 
1903 

All rights reserved 



COPYRIGHT, 1903, 
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. 



Set up, electrotyped, and published November, 1903. 



Norwood Press 

J. S. Gushing & Co. Berwick & Smith Co. 
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 



PREFACE 



THIS book is published as a contribution to the cause of mu- 
nicipal reform, to report progress made and to guide progress still 
to come. It embodies the result of the investigations made in 
connection with the work of the New York State Tenement House 
Commission appointed by President Roosevelt when he was gov- 
ernor of the State of New York in 1900. It also includes the 
Tenement House Law as amended and an introduction bringing 
down the history of Tenement Reform in New York to 1903. 



CONTENTS 

VOLUME I 

PAGE 

Introduction : Tenement Reform in New York since 1901 . . . . ix 
Robert W. DeForest. 



The Tenement House Problem 

(Being the general report of the Commission.) 
Robert W. DeForest. Lawrence Veiller. 

Tenement House Reform in New York City, 1834-1900 69 

Lawrence Veiller. 

Housing Conditions in Buffalo .......... 119 

William A. Douglas. Williams Lansing. 

Housing Conditions and Tenement Laws in Leading American Cities . . 129 
Lawrence Veiller. 

Housing Conditions and Tenement Laws in Leading European Cities . . 171 
W T inthrop E. Dwight. 

A Statistical Study of New York's Tenement Houses 191 

Lawrence Veiller. 

The Non-enforcement of the Tenement House Laws in New Buildings . 241 
Lawrence Veiller. 

Tenement House Fires in New York 259 

Hugh Bonner. Lawrence Veiller. 

Tenement House Fire-escapes in New York and Brooklyn .... 275 
Hugh Bonner. Lawrence Veiller. 

Back to Back Tenements 291 

Lawrence Veiller. 

Tenement House Sanitation 301 

Albert L. Webster, C.E. 

Small Houses for Working-men . 329 

H. L. Cargill. 

Financial Aspects of Recent Tenement House Operations in New York . 355 
Elgin R. L. Gould. 

vii 



Vlii CONTENTS 

PAGE 

The Speculative Building of Tenement Houses 367 

Lawrence Veiller. 

Tenement Evils as seen by the Tenants . , , . . . 383 

Tenement Evils as seen by an Inspector 419 

C. A. Mohr. 

Tuberculosis and the Tenement House Problem 445 

Hermann M. Biggs, M.D. 

The Relation of Tuberculosis to the Tenement House Problem . . . 459 
Arthur R. Guerard, M.D. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

VOLUME I 

The Most Densely Populated Spot in the World .... Frontispiece 

PAGE 

Typical Dumb-bell Tenement, built under the Laws in Force in 1900 . . 8 

A Whole Block of Dumb-bell Tenements, built under the Laws in Force in 1900 10 

Tuberculosis Map 12 

Typical Light Shaft 14 

Typical Back Yard 16 

Why Sanitary Inspection is Necessary. A Tenement House Cellar in 

Brooklyn 26 

Proposed Plans for New Law Tenements 59 

Dr. John H. Griscom, the Pioneer in Tenement House Keform in New York 

City * . . 72 

The Old " Five Points " . .... 74 

* 

The Old " Baptist Church " 76 

Notorious " Gotham Court " .- . . 78 

" Perpetual Fever Nests," 1864 92 

Model Tenements. Tower Buildings, Brooklyn, 1879 97 

The Dumb-bell Plan, 1879 101 

Model Tenements. City & Suburban Homes Company, 64th Street Buildings 108 
Model of a Block of Tenements from Tenement House Exhibition . .112 

Poverty Map from Tenement House Exhibition 114 

Prize Plan. Tenement Competition of 1900 116 

Working-men's Homes in Buffalo 121 

One of Buffalo's Worst Tenements, in the Italian Quarter .... 122 

Typical Cottages in the Polish District, Buffalo 124 

Rear View of Tenement in Seneca Street, Buffalo . . . . . .126 

Exterior of Le Couteux Street Tenement, Buffalo . . . .' * ' . 126 

Chicago Typical Housing Conditions 131 

Philadelphia Typical Homes of Workingmen 136 

Boston Tenement Houses in the North End 138 

Baltimore Typical Housing Conditions V i 140 

Cincinnati Typical Tenements ' V . 144 

Pittsburg Housing Conditions . .-.'. j-* : ^- . 146 

Detroit Typical Homes of Workingmen ... . . ... 148 

ix 



x LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

Providence Typical Housing Conditions . . . . . . 150 

Kansas City Typical Housing Conditions . . * 150 

Hartford A Type of Tenement House . .. . ... J . . 155 

St. Paul Typical Housing Conditions 155 

Typical London Slum .'.._, 173 

Municipal Model Tenements, London 175 

Manchester Municipal Model Tenements 177 

Liverpool Type of Slum Building 178 

Liverpool Municipal Model Tenements . V V ^ .... 178 

Glasgow Typical Slum . . . . . . . . . 180 

Glasgow Model Tenements ."..,' 182 

Map showing Tenement House Districts in Manhattan 194 

The Wrong Kind of Tenement House Fire-escape Vertical Ladders . 278 

Brooklyn's Peculiar System of Fire-escapes 284 

The Proper Kind of Tenement House Fire-escape Stairs 287 

Encumbered Fire-escapes . . . . ... . . . .... t ... 288 

Back to Back Tenements, showing Small Space between Buildings . . 297 

Back to Back Tenements, showing Rubbish between Buildings . . . 299 

Typical School Sink in Elizabeth Street . 304 

School Sink A Condition often found 307 

Diagram showing Construction of School Sink ...... 308 

Sectional View showing Construction of School Sink 311 

Cellar Water Closet. , . . , ... , . . . . . * . 313 
Sink in Public Hall . . . ....... .... .314 

" Open Plumbing " Pipes cut away 321 

Rubbish in Cellar 323 

Sectional Diagram of Tenement House Plumbing 326 

Proposed Plan for Suburban Tenements . . *V . . . . . 350 

A School Sink ..... . . , . 386 

The Bottom of an Air-shaft 388 

A Common Hall Sink . ,. . ; ./ . .. . . ... 395 

An Air-shaft . . .. ,.:-,, ... . . 427 

Cellar Living Rooms . . ..;: . . . . 428 

A Tenement House Cellar . . . ... . . * . .430 

A Tenement Back Yard . , . . , . . . . r ; * ... 432 

Why Separate Water Closets are Necessary . . . . .- - : " * . a 434 

An Interior Bedroom j , ; . . ; * '.>* "..---+-- 436 

A Public Hall Sink ,. ,,.... .. ., ,. r'>V t ii . 442 

Tuberculosis Map ^ . . . . . * 449 



INTRODUCTION 

TENEMENT REFORM IN NEW YORK SINCE 1901 

I 

BY EGBERT W. DE FOREST 



INTRODUCTION 

TENEMENT REFORM IN NEW YORK SINCE 1901 

THE report of the New York State Tenement House Commission 
of 1900 was adopted in its entirety. Its proposed Tenement House 
Law for cities of the first class was passed with substantial una- 
nimity by both branches of the legislature, and was approved by 
the governor on April 12, 1901. l Its proposed separate Tene- 
ment House Department for the city of New York was made part 
of the new charter of that city, which went into effect on January 
1, 1902. Seth Low was elected first mayor of the city under that 
new charter, and he appointed the chairman of the State Com- 
mission first Tenement House Commissioner of New York City, 
who in turn named the Secretary of the State Commission as his 
first deputy. 

By this unusual and unexpected conjunction, tenement house 
reform became a part of the fundamental law of the State of New 
York in the shape proposed by the reformers, and the execution 
of that law in the city of New York was placed in their hands. 

More than two years have now elapsed since that law went into 
effect, and for more than eighteen months its enforcement in the 
largest city of the State has been in the hands of its framers. Dur- 
ing that period there have been two sessions of the Legislature, at 
each of which the provisions of this law have been an important 
issue. Numerous amendments have been proposed, all more or less 
hostile to the new law. The contest has been a bitter one from 
start to finish. When the new law was introduced in 1901 it 
aroused strong opposition in the building trades and among owners 
of unreformed tenement houses, and an effort was made at that time 
to defeat it. Failing in this, the attack was renewed in 1902 and 
again in 1903. The main sources of opposition in these two years 
were certain building interests in Brooklyn, and the owners of the 

lr The law finally proposed by the Commission and enacted was a general law 
applicable to all cities of the first class, instead of the special law applicable only to 
New York City appended to their report. 

xiii 



xiv INTRODUCTION 

old houses in Manhattan. A fierce and bitter campaign was waged 
during both sessions of the Legislature, and had it not been for 
strong public opinion, voiced by the press and supported by Gov- 
ernor Odell and the city administration, the cause of tenement 
house reform might have been lost. No amendments, however, were 
adopted except those sanctioned by its friends and introduced at 
their instance. 

The results of these legislative contests, the amendments to the 
law which have been proposed and those which have finally been 
adopted, the extent to which the new law has improved the type of 
new tenement houses and bettered the condition of old ones, its effect 
on the interests of the landlord classes, who build arid rent, and of the 
tenant classes, who occupy and pay the rent, must necessarily form 
an impressive object-lesson in the development of housing reform. 

This book would not serve its purpose as a record of progress 
made, and as a guide toward progress still to come, unless it sum- 
marized the results thus far accomplished, outlined the story of tene- 
ment reform in New York since the adoption of the new law, and 
pointed out some of its instructive lessons. 

The evils of New York's tenement houses as observed in 1900 were 
summed up as follows : " Insufficiency of light and air due to narrow 
courts or air shafts, undue height, and to the occupation by the build- 
ing or by the adjacent buildings of too great proportion of the lot 
area ; danger from fire ; lack of separate water-closet and washing 
facilities ; overcrowding ; foul cellars and courts and other like evils, 
which may be classed as bad housekeeping," and the laws passed as a 
result of the Commission's investigations and on their recommenda- 
tion sought primarily to remedy these evils so far as they might be 
remedied by legislative intervention. The results accomplished have 
more than fulfilled the anticipations of the framers of the law. 

The discredited and horrible " dumb-bell " tenement, the prevail- 
ing type of house built in New York from 1879 until 1901, is now a 
thing of the past. At one stroke it was wiped out of existence as a 
type of future multiple dwelling. 

In its place is the new-law tenement, with large courts providing 
adequate light and ventilation for every room in the building. 

What this one change means to the future social and sanitary wel- 
fare of the city cannot be overstated. No longer can new buildings 
be erected with two-thirds of the rooms dark, with narrow air shafts 
spreading contagion and disease throughout the community, with 
the windows of one house looking directly into the windows of 
a house opposite, twenty-eight inches away, destroying privacy and 
frequently subjecting children to sights and sounds of a debasing 
influence. 



INTRODUCTION xv 

Instead, sanitary, comfortable, and decent houses are being rapidly 
built all over the city. In these every room is light. The great 
improvement in ventilation was vividly impressed upon a recent 
observer, who noticed, with amazement, all the window shades blow- 
ing out of the front windows of a row of these houses, so great was 
the circulation of air in the rooms. To any one familiar with the 
heavy, fetid air which prevailed in the old houses, the contrast is 
striking. Instead of windows opening in close proximity to windows 
of adjoining houses, no window now opens within twelve feet of a 
window opposite, and generally they are twenty-five feet apart. 

The air shaft is no more. It should have gone years ago. In 
fact it never should have existed. Thus has been removed from future 
buildings one of the most potent sources of danger in case of fire, as 
well as a prolific source of disease. Narrow and confined as it was, 
it acted in such cases as a flue, conveying the flames and smoke 
throughout the building. 

Overcrowding has been materially checked and the population 
more widely distributed. Where before twenty-six families lived 
on a plot of ground 25 feet wide and 100 feet deep, there are now 
but twenty-two families, and in many cases not more than sixteen. 
This result has been accomplished by reducing the height of the 
prevailing type of new tenement house from seven stories to six 
stories, and by not permitting so great a portion of the lot to be 
built upon. 

In place of common water-closets located in the public halls, with- 
out sufficient privacy, and shared by two families, each family has 
now its own closet facilities within its own apartment and entirely 
within its own control. This is a gain for decency. It assures the 
tenant the benefits of his own care and neatness. It enables the 
landlord to place responsibility for abuse where it belongs. 

The dark halls, with all their moral and sanitary evils, can no 
longer be reproduced. In their place are light halls, having windows 
at each floor opening upon large courts. 

Greater fire protection has been afforded to the community in the 
new houses. The cellars of such houses, where one-fourth of all 
fires start, are completely shut off by a fireproof floor from the rest 
of the building, and the public halls and stairs are completely and 
entirely fireproof. 

Probably no better contrast between the old and the new could 
be afforded than by the difference in the kind of fire escapes required. 
Instead of light vertical ladders connecting the fire escape balconies, 
which in case of fire would not be used by women, children, or aged 
persons, there are now substantial stairs. 

The extent to which the tenement house problem in New York 



xvi INTRODUCTION 

is thus being solved by " providing proper types of new tenement 
houses for the future, through adequate restrictive legislation, and 
by forbidding the erection of any others," is best appreciated when 
it is borne in mind that during the year 1902, 543 new tenement 
houses were built, at an estimated cost of over 20,000,000, and 
during the first half of 1903, plans were filed for a still larger num- 
ber, 699, at an estimated cost of 120,837,270. 

The new-law houses have been an unqualified success. Builders 
and owners who were at first bitterly opposed to the law are now 
outspoken in its approval, and many of them state that the new 
houses are more remunerative than the old ones. The demand for 
the new accommodations on the part of the tenants has been over- 
whelming. Not only have the apartments been rented in many cases 
before the buildings have been completed, but in some instances the 
apartments have been rented from the plans before the buildings were 
even started. Such a thing has never before been known to occur 
in the tenement districts. 

On the lower East Side, where the new houses have been built in 
greatest number, it is a Sunday diversion of the people to take their 
families and friends to see them, and to wonder at and admire the 
light rooms, the bath-tubs, and the other improvements. The rents 
in the new buildings are slightly higher than the rents in houses 
recently erected under the old law in similar neighborhoods, and 
rightly so because they give better accommodation. Moreover, there 
is a general rise in rents throughout the city which has no relation to 
the new tenement law or to the new-law house ; it is due to a variety 
of causes, among which may be noted the general increase of prices 
and cost of living, and the displacement of large numbers of the 
population by the destruction of many houses for extensive public 
improvements. The approach for the Delancey Street bridge on the 
lower East Side alone displaced 10,000 people. It is, of course, 
obvious that until the supply of new-law houses in certain neighbor- 
hoods equals the demand, rents will tend to rise. It would be a 
sorrowful comment on the intelligence of the working people if they 
were not willing to pay a little more for vastly improved living 
accommodations. 

The second line of action in solving New York's tenement house 
problem as enunciated by the Commission was "to remedy the errors 
of past years by altering and improving the old tenement houses so 
as to make them fit for human habitation." 

The favorite method in England of meeting this situation has 
been the condemnation and destruction by the municipality of large 
slum areas, and their replacement by so-called "model tenements" 
erected and operated by the city. In America this enlargement of 



INTRODUCTION xvii 

municipal functions has never seemed desirable to those seeking social 
betterment. 

The only movement in this direction in America has been in 
New York City, where several slum areas have been destroyed, and 
replaced by much needed public parks and playgrounds. 

While the framers of the hew law were averse to any wholesale 
condemnation and destruction of unsanitary tenements, they were 
fully alive to the necessity of a comprehensive scheme for the im- 
provement of the existing tenement houses ; and the new law provided 
such a plan. The main evils in the old houses were the dark interior 
rooms, the dark halls, and the common privies or privy sinks in the 
yards, technically known as "school sinks." These existed in large 
number as the sole closet accommodations for thousands of people. 

The dark interior rooms were known to be centres of contagion 
and disease, and a most important factor in fostering and spreading 
the growth of tuberculosis. It was known that there were annually 
in New York City eight thousand deaths from this disease, and 
twenty thousand new cases of sickness, and it was the opinion of 
leading medical experts that the lack of light and ventilation in the 
tenement houses was the chief cause of these conditions. In view 
of these facts it was determined to remedy the existing conditions 
by introducing as much light and air as possible into these dark 
interior rooms, without so radically reconstructing the buildings as 
to make the change prohibitive from the financial point of view. 
While it was not possible to make these rooms entirely satisfactory 
without practically rebuilding the houses, it was found that by intro- 
ducing large interior windows into the partitions separating the 
interior rooms from the outer rooms, that these conditions could 
be greatly improved, and a considerable degree of light and air 
admitted into rooms heretofore totally devoid of them. Such a plan 
was embodied in the law, and it was made obligatory upon tenement 
house owners to either make these changes within a reasonable time, 
or discontinue the use of the rooms for living purposes. 

While it was known that these evils were serious, no one had any 
conception of the extent to which they existed. For the first time 
it is now known that there are over 350,000 dark interior rooms in 
the tenement houses of New York. This knowledge has come 
through the investigations of the new Tenement House Department. 

It is apparent that it will be several years before all the changes 
contemplated by the law in this regard can be accomplished. 

Among the worst evils of the old tenement houses are the yard 
privies and privy sinks. While the majority of them are sewer- 
connected and provided with an ostensible means of flushing, yet 
the condition in which they are usually kept is indescribable. 



xviii INTRODUCTION 

They are seldom flushed, as the process is fraught with difficulty 
and is most unpleasant. They are distinct nuisances, not only to 
the tenement house itself but to the neighborhood in which they 
are located, and pollute the air for a considerable distance. They 
are, moreover, a serious and potent source of contagion and a means 
of spreading disease. 

Located in the yards, they are of easy access from the street, and 
are often abused and rendered most foal by disorderly persons 
and casual passers-by, who are not deterred by the flimsy locks on 
the privy doors, where such locks exist. The inaccessibility of these 
yard privies to the tenants on the fourth and fifth stories of a 
tenement house, and the inconvenience of using them at night and 
in sickness, must have a very considerable influence upon the health 
and habits of the tenement house dwellers. It accounts for the 
existence of many sanitary abuses which at first sight seem more in 
keeping with the habits of animals than human beings. 

The Commission determined, therefore, and determined wisely, 
that the privies and school sinks were a relic of a bygone state of 
civilization and must go. 

In their place it was provided that modern water-closets should 
be installed, preferably on each floor of the building. Where, how- 
ever, this was not easily practicable, the owner was permitted to place 
such closets in the yard under certain definite conditions. 

Great objection has been raised by many tenement house owners 
to removing these privy sinks, and proceedings are now pending in 
the courts to test the constitutionality of this provision of the act. 
Such proceedings have been brought by an association of tenement 
house property owners, who claim that the law is arbitrary and unjust, 
and works confiscation of their property ; and they have announced 
their intention of carrying the case, if necessary, to the highest court. 
In the two lower courts where the issue has thus far been tried, the 
law has in each case been sustained. 

Notwithstanding this agitation, several hundreds of tenement 
house owners have voluntarily removed their privy sinks and made 
the changes required by law. In ninety-five per cent of the cases, 
water-closets on each story of the building have been provided. In 
every case the results have been highly satisfactory, both to the city 
authorities and to the owner of the house, who has found that the per- 
manent improvement thus made to his property more than pays the 
interest on the expenditure. One firm of shrewd East Side real 
estate operators, finding that these improvements pay, is now making 
a practice of buying up these old houses, improving them as required 
by law, and then selling them at a profit, in some instances, as high 
as 85000. 



INTRODUCTION xix 

These structural alterations have now been made in every type 
of old tenement house in New York, and in every type have water- 
closets been satisfactorily provided inside the building, notwith- 
standing the contention of some owners that the law is impracticable 
and that there is no place in the building for closets. In general 
these changes have been made without the loss of a single room in 
any apartment, though, of course, there has been in every case the 
loss of some floor space. 

When all the improvements in the old houses have been carried 
out, a virtual revolution in New York's housing conditions will have 
been accomplished. 

The third direction along which the tenement house problem was 
to be solved, as laid down by the Commission of 1900, was by " main- 
taining present and future tenement houses in sanitary condition by 
adequate supervision." As a means of securing the best results in 
this direction, the framers of the law recommended the creation of a 
new branch of the city government, to be known as the Tenement 
House Department, placing upon it the sole responsibility for the 
sanitary welfare of the 2,372,079 persons living in New York's 
82,652 tenement houses, and concentrating in this one department 
duties and functions previously divided among four different city 
departments : the Health, Building, Fire, and Police Departments. 

It was largely due to this divided responsibility in the past that 
tenement house conditions had been seriously neglected. The non- 
enforcement of the laws in new buildings had for years been noto- 
rious and scandalous, while sanitary oversight of the old buildings 
had gradually grown more and more careless and perfunctory. This 
can be best appreciated when it is remembered that a prominent 
worker on the East Side, testified before the Commission that in his 
seventeen years' experience in the tenements, going into the houses 
at all times, he had never once seen a sanitary inspector. 

A detailed account of what has been accomplished by the new 
department is not possible here ; suffice it to say, however, that in 
place of the non-enforcement of the laws in new buildings in the 
past, every new tenement house now conforms to the law in every 
detail ; the existing houses are being frequently and systematically 
inspected, foul cellars have had the accumulated filth of years 
removed, defective and unsanitary plumbing which had apparently 
existed for long periods has been remedied, houses unfit for human 
habitation have been vacated, hundreds of houses have been radi- 
cally reconstructed and improved, light has been let into dark rooms, 
vile yard privies and privy sinks have been removed, and the whole 
sanitary condition of the city raised to a higher standard. The 
results of this work are clearly reflected in the reduced death-rate, 



xx INTRODUCTION 

which in 1902 was 18.7 as compared with 20.0 in 1901, and in the 
first eight months of 1903 has been reduced to 18.0. A realization 
of the volume of the work done may be obtained when it is known 
that in one bureau of the department alone, 11,707 violations were 
filed in one month, each violation representing on the average ten 
matters that required remedying in a particular house, thus making 
a total of 117,070 matters to be remedied, reported on in thirty 
days. During one year the department made 269,691 inspections 
and filed 138,270 violations. 

To those who are bearing the burden of the organization and 
work of the new department what has been done seems but a begin- 
ning, a first step in the endless fight against disease and death. 

It has often been asked whether improvement of the tenement 
houses was worth while, and whether tenants would appreciate 
improved conditions. The answer for the first time in the city's 
history has come from the tenants themselves, and with an emphasis 
that is unmistakable. 

When the opponents of tenement house reform in the winter of 
1903 were seeking to undo all that had been accomplished by repeal- 
ing in the legislature some of the most important provisions of the 
law, the residents of the East Side rose in their might and in no 
uncertain tones denounced the proposed changes. Mass meetings 
were held all over the East Side, delegations waited on Mayor Low 
and Governor Odell, and a monster petition, signed by forty thousand 
East Side tenement dwellers, protesting against any change in the 
law, was sent to the legislature. The East Side won. 

While the Tenement House Commission was created primarily 
for the purpose of improving the structural and sanitary conditions 
of the tenement houses, it was also charged with the duty of improv- 
ing, as far as possible, the general living environment of the tenement 
dwellers. 

When the Commission was making its investigations the city of 
New York was stirred as it had never been stirred before by the 
revelation of the conditions that existed in many sections of the city, 
and particularly on the lower East Side, in what was then known as 
the "red light district." In one precinct not more than a mile 
square the Committee of Fifteen found sixty well-known centres of 
prostitution in tenement houses. The employees of these houses 
openly cried their wares upon the street, and the children of the 
neighborhood were given pennies and candy to distribute the cards 
of the prostitutes. That Committee during the brief period of its 
activity secured evidence of the existence of over three hundred 
separate disorderly apartments in tenement houses in this city. 

To-day I am credibly informed that the evil of prostitution has 



INTRODUCTION xxi 

been practically eradicated from the tenement houses. This has 
been accomplished by the more drastic and severe penalties imposed 
by the new tenement house law; the owner of a tenement house being 
liable to a fine of $ 1000 for keeping a woman of this kind in such 
a house after he is notified of her character, and the woman herself 
now being sentenced to six months' imprisonment in the workhouse 
instead of being fined, as in the past. 

Not only have the homes of tenement dwellers been safeguarded, 
but also greater opportunities for personal cleanliness and for health- 
ful recreation have been opened to them. 

The city has already taken the necessary steps to provide twelve 
new public baths, all located in crowded tenement districts; and 
several of these baths will soon be ready for use. Eight new play- 
grounds have been opened in the crowded parts of the city ; Seward 
Park and Hamilton Fish Park on the lower East Side, authorized in 
1895, have been finally finished ; and the most completely equipped 
public playground in America has been established iri the most 
crowded district in the civilized world. A movement is now on 
foot for the establishment of a park and playground in the southern- 
most part of the East Side, which will destroy the notorious block 
illustrated on page 12 of this book, known as the most unsanitary 
block of tenements in the city, and the most dangerous centre of 
tubercular disease. 

The evil of policy has been greatly diminished through the vigor- 
ous and successful work of Captain F. Norton Goddard and his asso- 
ciates, and Al Adams, the so-called "Policy King," is now serving a 
sentence in state prison. 

The contests of the past three years in New York have been in 
some aspects only local and ephemeral. If they concerned only par- 
ticular men, or related only to particular times, they would call for 
no extended mention. They are, however, in many aspects typical 
of other contests that are likely to arise at other times and in other 
places, and as such they have their lessons. They have illustrated 
the different points of view, each of which should be fairly considered, 
from which any proper solution of the housing question in great cities 
must be reached. They have also illustrated the limitations of tene- 
ment regulation which exist in every city, and are often determined 
by local physical conditions, or local habits which may have no exist- 
ence elsewhere. They also illustrate the fact that housing reform is 
necessarily changing and progressive. A standard of housing condi- 
tions which can be maintained to-day in the great city of New York 
might not have been maintainable in the same city at an earlier 
period. A standard which can be maintained in such a city to-day 
may not be maintainable in a different city at the same time. A 



xxii INTRODUCTION 

higher standard will probably be maintainable there and elsewhere 
in the near future. 

These contests have also been carried on and settled by judicial 
methods, and by an appeal to reason, rather than to sentiment or 
prejudice. 

It is natural and right that all parties to such a controversy 
should urge their own particular point of view, even if only based 
upon their own immediate and present self-interest, whether they be 
tenement owners or tenement builders or tenement dwellers, or 
those who belong to neither class primarily, but only seek the greater 
good of the greater number, and try with foresight to provide for 
the future welfare of a city. It is only by such a presentation of all 
sides of such a complicated problem that a wise decision can be 
reached. 

A tenement house law framed without reference to the inter- 
ests of tenement owners and builders would be quite as unlikely to 
work to the good of any community as one framed without refer- 
ence to the needs of tenement dwellers. 

It is the resultant of all these different lines of interest, selfish 
and narrow as many of them are, which forms the true line of 
progress. 

The important changes which have been made in the law since 
its enactment may be roughly divided into two classes, so far as they 
interest the tenement reformers of the future. 

First, those which were necessary to adapt a law, in itself correct 
in principle, to local conditions, whether physical, such as the 25- 
five foot lot unit, or sentimental, such as the desire on the part of 
tenants to have some room in their apartment opening to the street ; 
and secondly, those which involve some further adaptation of the 
principles on which the law has been framed. 

The best illustration of the former class is that series of amend- 
ments which make possible the three or four story tenement house 
on a 25-foot lot, with two apartments on each floor, each of which 
runs through from front to rear, and which may have a minimum 
interior court, in the case of four-story houses, of not less than 
8 x 14, and a somewhat smaller interior court in three-story houses. 
Tenements of this type, without, however, any interior court, had 
been built in Brooklyn in very large numbers. Builders could 
duplicate them readily without any architect's assistance. Tenants 
were accustomed to them. The general lot unit of 25 x 100 fixed 
the width of the houses beyond possibility of change. To produce 
apartments at a sufficiently low rental to meet current needs, there 
must be two on each floor. The social habits of tenants made them 
all wish to have one room open into the street. Therefore each 



INTRODUCTION xxiii 

floor was divided into two long narrow apartments, the effective 
width of each of which could only be 12J feet, less what was re- 
quired for the width of walls and partitions. The original law, 
by its prescribed court areas, prevented this type of tenement on 
the 25-foot lot, but permitted on such a lot a front and rear 
arrangement, that is, one apartment in front occupying the entire 
front, and another in the rear occupying the entire rear. Such 
an arrangement was usual in the tall tenements of Manhattan, 
except that there were ordinarily four on a floor, two of which 
opened to the front and two of which opened to the rear. The 
tenement dwellers of Manhattan were quite accustomed to it, and 
the rents of the rear apartments differed only by one or two dollars 
from the rents of the front apartments. 

If the same social habits had existed in Brooklyn as in Manhattan, 
the new-law house, with its two apartments on a floor, one at the front 
and one at the rear, with a maximum space given up to rooms and a 
minimum space to passageways, would have seemed preferable to the 
tenant from the point of view of convenience and comfort, and pref- 
erable to the builder on the score of economic construction. But the 
desire of the Brooklyn tenement dweller to have one room open on 
the street, whether it had its origin in good reason, or merely in 
obstinate habit, was a stubborn fact in the situation. It was urged 
that the rear apartments in the proposed new-law houses would not 
be rentable, because no tenant who took a rear apartment would stand 
on a plane of social equality with the tenant who took a front apart- 
ment, and that this inequality of social scale would virtually prevent 
the house being occupied. Tenants would not rent the front apart- 
ment of such houses because they would not wish to associate with 
those who rented the rear. Tenants would not rent the rear apart- 
ment because they would thereby put themselves in a position of 
social inferiority to those who rented the front. It would not seem 
as if there should be inherently any such objection to rear apartments. 
True, if yards were ill kept, and the rear of opposite buildings objec- 
tionable, there would be a real disadvantage in living at the rear ; 
but if, on the other hand, yards were well kept, and particularly 
if there were some concerted action between owners on the same 
block to make the rears of their houses sightly, the rear apart- 
ments might have a better outlook, and be quieter than those on the 
front. 

That these considerations, whether founded on desire reasonable 
or unreasonable, or on fixed habit, were real and entitled to weight, 
is evidenced by the fact that practically no tenements of the front 
and rear variety have been built in Brooklyn, whereas a very large 
number have been built of a modified type with apartments running 



xxiv INTRODUCTION 

through from front to rear, but with a substantial interior court made 
obligatory by the amended law. 

Tenement law must recognize social desires and social habits, 
whether reasonable or unreasonable. They are factors to be dealt 
with quite as substantial as those which take more material form. 

In the class of amendments which were founded on the further 
adaptation of the principles on which the law was framed, are those 
which have diminished the amount of fireproof construction in the 
three and four story tenement. 

The original law, which for the first time in the city of New York 
properly recognized the fundamental principle of variation according 
to height, made no recognition of this principle in the fireproof con- 
struction of stairs and stair halls. This was to be the same whatever 
the height of the tenement under six stories, and above this height 
the whole tenement was to be fireproof. 

The cost of three and four story tenements was thus increased 
to an appreciable amount. 

It was urged that this increased cost made such tenements com- 
mercially unprofitable, or, if commercially profitable, it would only 
be by increasing the rents proportionately, which would be a hard- 
ship to the tenant. 

It was also urged that the risk of loss of life from fire was pro- 
portionately less as the house was decreased in height. 

Another argument strongly presented was that every encourage- 
ment should be given to the building of low, as distinguished from 
high, tenements, by decreasing their cost, because they militated 
against overcrowding in any particular area. 

Regard was had to these considerations. By the amendments of 
1902 the fireproof requirements for three-story tenements were radi- 
cally and unnecessarily diminished. By the amendments of the 
following year, a semi-fireproof construction was permitted in four- 
story houses, and the fireproof requirements of three-story houses partly 
restored, but made less in degree than those for four-story houses. 

The logical solution for such questions will always consist in 
some line of equilibrium between a higher standard of construction, 
whether from a fireproof or sanitary point of view, with a higher 
rent, and a lower standard of construction, with a lower rent, and 
different considerations may properly govern its solution according 
as the question relates to such matters as fireproofing, which 
concern not only the inmates of that house, but the neighboring 
community. 

Any standard of construction, however, whether it relates to 
protection from fire or protection from disease, or to more comfort 
and convenience, will always be a shifting one, and fortunately for 



INTRODUCTION xxv 

the future welfare of our people, will always be a higher one. Its 
rapid and steady rise is most encouraging. 

The present tenement law, with universal approbation, not only 
requires running water in every apartment in all tenements but that 
every apartment in a new tenement shall have its own private water- 
closet. It is but a few years ago that the most wealthy church 
corporation in New York, representing a Protestant body holding 
most progressive views of social reform, sought to defeat in the 
courts such a modest provision of the tenement law as the require- 
ment of running water in the halls, when the expense of making this 
small improvement, so vital from the point of view of health as well 
as convenience, was admittedly only $ 100. In the light of present 
day uplifting, such an attitude on the part of a religious society, even 
in the remote past, seems inconceivable. The most grasping owner 
of a small tenement, who is seeking to squeeze as much profit out of 
his tenants as possible, would hesitate to take it at the present day. 

Another illustration of the raising of standard is found in the 
evolution of the water-closet in tenement houses. It is not many 
years since the only equipment of the low grade tenements in this 
particular was the old-fashioned privy, and up to 1890, only thirteen 
years ago, the Board of Health was ordering out privies and per- 
mitting the substitution of the so-called " school sink," a modified 
form of privy, in which fecal matter was discharged into a trough, 
and that trough was flushed at intervals with water into the con- 
necting sewer. 

The present law abolishes "school sinks," once a permissible, 
though objectionable, substitute for the more objectionable privy, 
and prescribes in all old tenements not less than one water-closet 
for every two families, and in new tenements requires a separate 
water-closet in every apartment. 

The most encouraging evidence of progress, however, is not that 
the law compels these improvements, but that tenants demand them, 
and are quite ready to pay increased rents for apartments which 
contain them. 

Some months since, a Jewish real estate operator called at the 
Tenement House Department, and filed plans for the alteration of 
an old tenement to conform to the new law, by putting in separate 
water-closets, opening windows into interior rooms, and lighting the 
previously dark halls. It developed in conversation that he had just 
bought the house as a speculation, but only after having first visited 
all the tenants and ascertained that they were each willing to pay a 
considerable increase in rent if these new conveniences were put in. 

A tenement law stands on a firm basis when landlords find it is 
profitable to build and alter in accordance with its provisions. 



xxvi INTRODUCTION 

The most difficult task which confronts tenement reform in New 
York is undoubtedly to make these old houses conform to the new 
law. Not that the enforcement of the law in any particular house, 
or in any small group of houses, is difficult, but that the number of 
houses is so great and the mere labor of inspection and reinspection 
so extensive. 

Even though it has been demonstrated again and again that these 
alterations, by decreasing vacancies and increasing rent, pay a very 
large interest on their cost, so that many are voluntarily making the 
changes without any order from the department, the alterations 
proceed very slowly. 

Moreover, there is a sullen opposition on the part of many house 
owners to any interference with what they claim to be their property 
rights, in compelling them to make these changes at their own ex- 
pense. They are quite ready to admit that the present construction 
of their houses is unsanitary, and that for the sake of the community, 
as well as of their inmates, they should be altered over. They reason, 
however, that because their houses were lawfully constructed under 
the laws in force at the time of their erection, or perhaps in the 
absence of any regulation, they should be deemed lawful now, and 
that any alteration made now, for the benefit either of their inmates 
or of the public at large, should be paid for from the city treasury. 

It is not strange that many of them should take this attitude. 
The extent of the police power of the State to enforce sanitary 
changes at the expense of landowners, though settled now, has been 
a subject of much litigation in the past. Such landlords forget that 
they, or their predecessors in ownership, have for a long time held 
their property subject to this right on the part of the community to 
protect itself, and that the possibility of new changes being required 
by the community for its protection has been one element in deter- 
mining the price at which such property has been bought and 
sold. 

The difficulty of enforcing the law, however, as respects altera- 
tions to old tenements, where there must be inspection and reinspec- 
tion, and conference it may be, between the owner and department 
as to the details of each alteration, is offset by the ease with 
which compliance has been secured with other features of the law, 
when the mere existence of adequate penalties readily enforcible by 
a vigilant city department has sufficed, in most instances, to secure 
obedience. 

Among these is the one which prevents the occupation of a new 
tenement until after a certificate of completion is obtained from the 
department. Under the old law, without such a provision, hardly a 
tenement was completed in conformity to law. Under the new law, 



INTRODUCTION xxvii 

with this provision, all new tenements are being completed in full 
accordance with the law, without any excessive burden of inspection. 
Builders know that they cannot bring tenants into their new houses 
until they are made to conform to the law in all particulars. 

One of the chief problems of any tenement house law is in adapt- 
ing it to the differing conditions of different parts of our cities, which 
vary all the way from crowded sections in which land values are so 
high that only tall buildings can be profitable, to country districts in 
which land is so cheap that it is only adapted to the two or three 
story frame house. The law must necessarily affect all parts of a city 
alike, but the degree and extent of regulation should vary according 
as it is to affect such dissimilar conditions. 

It is not in tenement law alone that this difficulty of adaptation 
exists. It exists in the other regulations of modern cities. It is 
increased as each large city in turn is competing in size with its 
neighbors by including country property within its corporate 
limits. 

A familiar illustration is that of fixing fire limits, beyond which 
no wooden building can be afterward erected. The older parts of our 
cities readily adapt themselves to this restriction. Wooden buildings 
still exist in the most crowded sections of old New York, but they are 
a detriment to the land on which they stand, and a menace to adjacent 
property, so that no one thinks it a hardship to prevent their future 
erection. Not so, however, in other boroughs. Even the larger part 
of Brooklyn, great city as it was before its consolidation with New 
York, is still outside of fire limits ; and the line at which the advancing 
fire limit is drawn, whatever it be, is sure to be a line of hardship to 
some property owners who cannot make their land productive because 
they can no longer build the cheaper wooden houses. This difficulty 
is inherent ; it is not entirely surmountable. Its nearest solution in 
tenement house law lies in the adoption of the principle of height as 
the determining factor. 

It was the difficulty of adapting the original law in all particulars 
to the varying conditions of the city, suburban, and country sections 
of Greater New York which led to its more important amendments ; 
and if any further amendments be needed, their reason will undoubt- 
edly be found in the necessity for some further, and perhaps more 
delicate, adjustment of the law for these same reasons. 

In more crowded city districts, land so invariably increases in 
value that low buildings cease to be profitable, and tall buildings, 
perforce, take their place. The tenements in such parts of the city 
require the largest open space for light, and the most approved 
incombustible material for fire protection. 

On the other hand, such tall tenements cannot be profitably built 



xxviii INTRODUCTION 

in country districts. The tenements erected in these parts of the 
city will necessarily be low. 

The adoption of the principle of height as a variant naturally 
and automatically adjusts itself to these different conditions, and 
will readjust itself as they change. 

Of the many conclusions of the State Commission of 1900 which 
have been strongly emphasized by the administration of the new 
law, one should be reiterated because its acceptance usually comes 
only after sober second thought. No possible distinction in law can 
be made between the so-called tenement, flat, and apartment houses. 
As respects tenement regulation they are absolutely and irrevocably 
one and the same thing. They are all multiple houses ; that is, they 
all have many parts used in common by the different families that 
occupy the houses, and require some quasi-public care and super- 
vision. There may easily be difference in the degree of such super- 
vision required. That is, the extent of public inspection needed 
in the highest grade apartment houses is unquestionably, by reason 
of the habits of its occupants, less than the inspection required for 
the lowest grade of so-called tenement, but the kind of regulation, 
the minimum size of courts, the minimum lighting of rooms and 
halls, is the same. Nor is there any certainty that the lesser degree 
of inspection, sufficient to-day by reason of the superior character 
of occupancy, will suffice for the changed occupancy to-morrow. My 
own grandmother, within my own recollection, lived in what was 
then one of the finest houses, in one of the most fashionable streets 
of New York. Not long since I passed the house and noticed on 
the front door a sign reading, " French flats for colored people." 

It is unfortunate that the popular definition of tenement house 
should differ so much from its legal meaning. The difference places 
many obstacles in the way of tenement reform that would not other- 
wise exist. Many house owners who would not have objected to 
the application to their house of the same law if it had been called 
" Apartment House Law," bitterly resent their inclusion in any 
" Tenement House Law," and therefore oppose its enforcement. 
They have to be constantly reminded that their idea of a tenement 
house is entirely at variance with its legal significance. There is 
justification for the popular meaning given the word. Even so 
recent an authority as the " National Cyclopedia " thus defines tene- 
ment houses : " The poorest class of apartment houses. They are 
generally poorly built, without sufficient accommodations for light 
and ventilation, and are overcrowded. The middle rooms often 
receive no daylight, and it is not uncommon in them for several 
families to be crowded into one of their dark and unwholesome 
rooms. Bad air, want of sunlight, and filthy surroundings work 



INTRODUCTION xxix 

the physical ruin of the wretched tenants, while their mental and 
moral condition is equally lowered." A more terse and accurate 
description of the most objectionable type of old New York tene- 
ment has seldom been written, but it is only one of the many kinds 
of tenement, all of which the law seeks to regulate. In discussing 
and dealing with tenement questions, it is constantly necessary to 
reiterate that the tenement house of the law is the well-defined generic 
term, of which the popular tenement is only an inferior species. 

The work of housing reform has by no means been confined to 
New York City. The city of Buffalo has also been affected by the 
new law, and material improvement in its sanitary condition has been 
accomplished. The scope of the law has been extended and a class 
of houses previously under no sanitary control has been brought 
under the close supervision of the sanitary authorities. With the 
new law has also come improved machinery for its enforcement. 

The smaller cities of New York State have also felt the educa- 
tional effect of the new law and of the higher sanitary standards. 
Yonkers has appointed a tenement house commission, to frame an 
improved law ; a similar movement is on foot in Syracuse, and in 
Rochester, Troy, and Albany an appreciation of the dangers of bad 
sanitary conditions is beginning to be felt. 

Nor has the influence of the work in New York been confined to New 
York State. Chicago has adopted a new tenement house law, based 
largely upon New York's Tenement House Act. A new law has 
been passed in Pennsylvania, applying to Pittsburg and the second- 
class cities of the State, and two tenement house inspectors have just 
been appointed in the first-named city to enforce it. A vigorous 
citizens' movement is well under way there, and very definite reforms 
may be expected. The city of Boston has appointed a tenement 
house commission to investigate the problem, and it is now pursu- 
ing its investigations. 

A tenement house commission, authorized by the legislature of 
New Jersey at its last session, has been appointed by Governor 
Franklin Murphy, and is now investigating housing conditions in 
Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, and the other leading cities of the 
State ; and a tenement house law based on the New York act is 
being framed. In Philadelphia a citizens' investigation of condi- 
tions is being established on a firm basis, and great improvement 
both in the law and its enforcement is sure to result. In Cleveland 
a similar citizens' movement is well under way, their investigation 
is being concluded, and a new law based on the New York act is 
being framed. Similar movements are on foot in Washington, 
Baltimore, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Kansas City. 

It may be very pertinently asked to what extent the precedent 



xxx INTRODUCTION 

of New York in tenement regulation is a guide to such regulation 
elsewhere. It is not a guide as respects those provisions of the 
New York law which were determined by conditions peculiar to 
New York ; as, for instance, the 25-foot lot unit, and the habitu- 
ation of so many people in Brooklyn to the long narrow apartment 
running through from street to yard. Nor should a separate tene- 
ment house department as in New York be deemed the only form of 
municipal organization adapted to enforce most of the tenement 
laws. Tenement houses have problems of construction and prob- 
lems of management peculiar to themselves, and necessarily incident 
to the common use of so many parts of a house by different families. 
They undoubtedly form an appropriate unit on which to centre the 
activities of a single city department, when they exist in large 
numbers. But these problems are so related to those of the cus- 
tomary building and health departments of a city, that a separate 
tenement house department will usually be unnecessary until the 
number of tenements becomes considerable. 

Nor would the New York law be a good precedent as respects 
the extent of changes it requires in old tenements. That was 
limited in large measure by the very great number of old tene- 
ments, and the consequent opposition sure to be encountered in 
making changes. Other cities, with fewer such evils which have 
been crystallized into brick and mortar, may proceed more boldly. 

The New York precedent, instructive as it is to other cities, 
can only have its full value for them when stripped of its peculiar 
New York adaptation, and adapted to their special conditions. 

There is one respect, however, in which New York furnishes a 
most instructive object-lesson. It is the city of the United States 
in which improper tenement conditions began earliest, and in which 
they proceeded farthest at first without any, and at a later time 
without proper, regulation. 

When the Buffalo members of the New York State Commission 
of 1900 made their individual examinations into the tenement condi- 
tions of New York, and spent several days in silent amazement at 
what they saw, they came back to their New York colleagues and 
announced as their conclusion that " New York should be abolished." 
Undoubtedly there are many parts of New York which should be 
abolished and razed to the ground, just as slum districts have been 
treated in many English cities. But the practical difficulties of such 
radical action are very great. It is difficult enough to ameliorate 
their worst features by the comparatively small amount of alteration 
required in old tenements by the new law. 

The impressive lesson which New York has to teach other cities 
more fortunately situated than itself is to begin tenement regulation 



INTRODUCTION xxxi 

in time, and thus prevent any repetition of the terrible evils which 
confront New York, and from which she cannot now altogether 
escape. There is no difficulty and no hardship in preventing unsani- 
tary tenements from being built. There is every difficulty, and in 
the minds of some people there is much hardship, in changing them 
after they have once been wrongly built. 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

BY ROBERT W. DEFOREST AND LAWRENCE VEILLER 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 



OF all the great social problems of modern times incident to the 
growth of cities, none is claiming public attention in a greater degree 
than that of the housing of the working people. Mere housing, how- 
ever, that is, merely providing shelter, does not solve this problem. 
It only aggravates it by herding men and women together under 
conditions which inevitably tend to produce disease and crime. It 
is only by providing homes for the working people, that is, by provid- 
ing for them not only shelter, but shelter of such a kind as to protect 
life and health and to make family life possible, free from surroundings 
which tend to immorality, that the evils of crowded city life can be 
mitigated and overcome. Nor does it concern only the working 
classes who are to be sheltered. It is of vital moment to all the in- 
habitants of every city, and particularly to those of every city gov- 
erned by democratic rule. Homes are quite as much needed to make 
good citizens as to make good men. According as the working people 
are provided with better or poorer homes will the government, 
morals, and health of a city be better or worse. 

In most cities the housing problem is the problem of the small 
house rather than of the large tenement. It is such in Philadelphia ; 
it is such to a large extent in Buffalo. In New York, however, as 
in no other city in the country, it is the problem of the tenement 
house the problem of the five, six, or even seven story building 
usually on a lot 25 feet in width and with as many as three or four 
families on each floor. 

Nothing short of a personal inspection of the great tenement dis- 
tricts of New York can give any adequate realization of the impor- 
tance of the questions involved questions affecting, not only the 
health, morality, and welfare of the people living in those districts, 
but also having a most potent influence upon the political conditions 
of the whole city and of the entire State. A city which in the size 
of its population and number of its voters already includes about 
one-half of the inhabitants and voters of the State must necessarily 
exercise a powerful influence in State affairs. Of the 3,437,202 in- 
habitants of New York City, 2,372,079, or more than two-thirds, live 
in tenement houses, as these houses are defined by law. In Greater 
New York there are 82,652 of these buildings, of which 42,700 are 



4 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

located in Manhattan, 33,771 in the Borough of Brooklyn, 4365 in 
the Borough of the Bronx, 1398 in the Borough of Queens, and 418 
in the Borough of Richmond. 

The housing problem is not a new question. It began to claim 
attention in England and in this country in the early part of the nine- 
teenth century, and as the growth of cities has developed has claimed 
attention more and more. So much effort has been expended in 
European cities to remedy the evils of bad housing that the Commis- 
sion had hoped to find in such European cities useful suggestions 
and precedent. It has accordingly carefully investigated the hous- 
ing conditions and tenement regulations of the large cities of Europe 
and of the leading cities of this country. This study has not been 
without valuable result in the direct line of inquiry; but it has 
demonstrated beyond question that it is in New York that the most 
serious tenement house problem in the world is to be found, and the 
Commission finds that to the history of tenement house development 
and regulation in this city it must look for present conclusions and 
for the remedies for these evils. 

Attention was first called to the subject here in 1834 by the City 
Inspector of the Board of Health at a time when the population of 
New York was about 270,000. The first Legislative Commission of 
inquiry was appointed in 1856. The Council of Hygiene of the 
Citizens' Association made its comprehensive report on this subject 
in 1865. The first tenement house law followed in 1867. The first 
practical illustration of improved methods of construction was made 
in Brooklyn in 1876 and did much to stimulate tenement house 
reform in 1877 and 1878. The second tenement house law was 
enacted in 1879. The second State Commission was appointed in 
1884, and its recommendations led to important amendments of the 
law in 1887. The third State Commission was appointed in 1894, 
and as a result of its labors the tenement house law was amended 
and other desirable legislation was secured in the following year. 

To the Commission of 1884 and to the Commission of 1894, as 
well as to the first Assembly Commission of 1856, and the many 
faithful workers who followed them, this Commission wishes to 
publicly state its obligations and to place itself only in the line of 
succession. The legislation which has followed the report of each 
Commission and the public sentiment which their action has aroused, 
has been in the main progressive ; but too often the gain made at the 
time when public opinion has been centred on this subject has been 
lost when this interest has been diverted and the field left open for 
selfish interests to assert themselves. Some of the evils of fifty years 
ago, cellar dwellings and lack of sanitary arrangements, have been 
corrected in some degree; but the same evils which seemed most 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 5 

serious to the first Commission of 1856 lack of light and ventila- 
tion, insufficient protection against fire, surroundings so unclean and 
uncomfortable as to make home life almost impossible are still the 
chief evils of the present day and have been intensified by the more 
recent types of tenements. Although additional legislation has been 
had upon these subjects at different intervals, it has not kept pace 
with the conditions sought to be remedied. In 1864 the tenement 
population of New York was 486,000 and the number of tenement 
houses 15,511. In 1900 the tenement population of the same city, 
now the Borough of Manhattan, was 1,585,000 and the number of 
tenement houses 42,700. With all the remedial legislation and 
regulation which has been put into operation since the enactment of 
the first tenement house law in 1867, the present type of tenement 
house the six-story double-decker occupying 75 per cent of 
a 25-foot lot, with four families on a floor, gives to its occupants less 
light and less ventilation, less fire protection and less comfortable 
surroundings, than the average tenement of fifty years ago, which 
was lower in height, occupied less lot space, and sheltered fewer 
people. 

That there are great evils in our tenement house conditions, and 
that these evils should be remedied, is a general proposition univer- 
sally accepted; but, like similar generalities, its acceptance leads 
nowhere unless particular evils are defined and particular remedies 
pointed out. The first question is, therefore, What are the particu- 
lar evils to be remedied ? 

No one who is at all familiar personally with tenement house life 
in New York, no one who without personal familiarity reads the 
description of tenement house life from the point of view of the 
tenant and inspector contained in the special paper on this subject 
which forms part of this report, can fail to realize that the chief evil 
to be remedied is the tenement house itself. 

Adequate light and air, perfect sanitation, even passable home 
environment, cannot be provided by the best tenement house which 
is commercially possible on Manhattan Island that is, by the best 
tenement house which can be built with sufficient prospect of income 
to warrant its erection. Such a tenement house, even if only five 
stories high, occupying only 65 per cent of the lot and accom- 
modating only three families on a floor, situated, as it either is 
at the outset or soon will be, among other buildings of the same or 
greater height, must necessarily lack, especially in its lower apart- 
ments, some of these desirable conditions. Ideal conditions in these 
particulars can only be attained when each family occupies its own 
separate house. The fewer families in each house and the larger air 
space around it, the nearer approach to this ideal. 



6 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

Inquiry naturally directs itself, therefore, first to the question 
whether the inherent evils of the tenement house system can be 
remedied, and whether we can look forward at any near future to 
housing the working classes of New York in separate or smaller 
houses as the laboring men of many other cities are accommodated. 
The near realization of rapid transit and closer and quicker connec- 
tion with the Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens by bridge and 
tunnel would seem to make such a development possible. 

Undoubtedly better transit facilities will enable some of the more 
ambitious and better paid tenement dwellers to provide themselves 
with separate homes in the outlying districts ; but from the special 
inquiry made into this subject by the Commission, the results of 
which are summarized in its special report on small houses, it is evi- 
dent that the bulk of the laboring classes will still continue to live 
in tenement houses. 

A family which now pays from f 12 to $18 a month for its apart- 
ment in a tenement house must be able to pay at least 120 a month 
for a separate house in the suburbs, a reason sufficient in itself to 
keep it in the tenement. Other influences familiarity with tene- 
ment life, which, however distasteful to previous generations, has 
now perforce grown into a habit, the natural inclination of our large 
foreign population to group itself in neighborhoods on national lines, 
and other causes equally potent all tend in the same direction. 

Concluding, therefore, that the tenement house system must con- 
tinue in New York, the question presents itself, What evils not inher- 
ent in the system admit of remedy ? These are the practical 
questions before the Commission. The most serious evils may be 
grouped as follows : 

(1) Insufficiency of light and air due to narrow courts or air 
shafts, undue height, and to the occupation by the building or by 
adjacent buildings of too great a proportion of lot area. 

(2) Danger from fire. 

(3) Lack of separate water-closet and washing facilities. 

(4) Overcrowding. 

(5) Foul cellars and courts, and other like evils, which may be 
classed as bad housekeeping. 

Of the three first-named groups of evils, all are evils of con- 
struction which admit of remedy both in buildings hereafter 
constructed and those which already exist, if that remedy can 
wisely be applied. 

In new buildings it would be possible to insure light and air by 
preventing the occupation of more than one -half the lot area, and by 
prescribing larger courts. It would be possible to make fireproof 
construction mandatory, and thus minimize all danger from fire. In 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 7 

old buildings it would be possible to cut in courts or air shafts so 
that every living or sleeping room should have a window opening to 
the outer air, and it would be possible to substitute fireproof stairs 
for the wooden stairs now used in these buildings. All these 
changes would be desirable. The immediate effect, however, of 
seeking to enforce them at the present time, in the case of new tene- 
ments, would probably be to prevent their erection by making them 
commercially too costly ; and as respects the old tenements, to vacate 
many of them for living purposes, because the cost of such altera- 
tions would be more than would be justified by any probable revenue 
that could be expected from them after the changes had been made. 

Tenement house reform would not be practical which went so far 
as to put a stop to building new tenement houses. Nor would it be 
practical if it compelled such extensive changes in old tenements 
that owners would turn them to other uses. 

The result in both cases would be to decrease the supply of tene- 
ment accommodation, and to either force more people into this 
diminished space, which would mean more overcrowding, or to force 
some people out, in which case competition would raise rents. 

Reform of such a kind would harm most the very persons it 
sought to aid. 

The only difference of opinion between the members of the Com- 
mission has been, not as to what conditions were desirable, but as to 
how far these conditions could be attained without producing such 
consequences ; that is, how far present evils could be prevented in 
new buildings without increasing their cost to such an extent as to 
practically prevent their erection, and how far they could be remedied 
in old buildings without such an expense as to be practically pro- 
hibitory, and to prevent their continuing to be occupied for living 
purposes. 

For instance, there is not a member of the Commission who would 
not gladly limit the height of non-fireproof tenements to four stories, 
if it were practicable so to do, and, indeed, one leading architect has 
suggested that such limitation should be placed at three stories. 

THE TYPICAL NEW YORK TENEMENT 

Some knowledge of the prevailing kind of New York tenement 
house must necessarily precede any consideration of its evils and 
their remedies. It is known as the " double-decker," " dumb-bell " 
tenement, a type which New York has the unenviable distinction of 
having invented. It is a type unknown to any other city in America 
or Europe. 

Although the housing problem is one of the leading political 



8 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 



U 



questions of the day in England, the conditions which exist there are 
ideal compared to the conditions in New York. The tall tenement 
house, accommodating as many as 100 to 150 persons in one building, 
extending up six or seven stories into the air, with dark, un ventilated 
rooms, is unknown in London or in any other city of Great Britain. 
It was first constructed in New York about the year 1879, and with 

r , , slight modifications has been practically the sole 

| ] type of building erected since, and is the type 

of the present day. It is a building usually five 
or six or even seven stories high, about 25 feet 
wide, and built upon a lot of land of the same 
width and about 100 feet deep. The building 
as a rule extends back 90 feet, leaving the small 
space of ten feet unoccupied at the rear, so that 
the back rooms may obtain some light and air. 
This space has continued to be left open only 
because the law has compelled it. Upon the 
entrance floor there are generally two stores, 
one on each side of the building, and these 
sometimes have two or three living rooms back 
of them. In the centre is the entrance hallway, 
a long corridor less than 3 feet wide and ex- 
tending back 60 feet in length. This hallway 
is nearly always totally dark, receiving no light 
except that from the street door and a faint 
light that comes from the small windows open- 
ing upon the stairs, which are placed at one 
side of the hallway. Each floor above is gener- 
ally divided into four sets of apartments, there 
being seven rooms on each side of the hall, 
extending back from the street to the rear of 
the building. The front apartments generally 
consist of four rooms each and the rear apart- 
ments of three rooms, making altogether four- 
teen upon each floor, or in a seven-story house 
eighty-four rooms exclusive of the stores and 
rooms back of them. Of these fourteen rooms 
on each floor, only four receive direct light and air from the street or 
from the small yard at the back of the building. Generally, along 
each side of the building is what is termed an " air shaft," being an 
indentation of the wall to a depth of about 28 inches, and extending 
in length for a space of from 50 to 60 feet. This shaft is entirely 
enclosed on four sides, and is, of course, the full height of the 
building, often from 60 to 72 feet high. The ostensible purpose of 




TYPICAL DUMB-BELL TEN- 
EMENT, BUILT UNDER 

THE LAWS IN FORCE IN 
1900. 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 9 

the shaft is to provide light and air to the five rooms on each side of 
the house which get no direct light and air from the street or yard ; 
but as the shafts are narrow and high, being enclosed on all four 
sides, and without any intake of air at the bottom, these rooms 
obtain, instead of fresh air and sunshine, foul air and semi-darkness. 
Indeed it is questionable whether the rooms would not be more 
habitable and more sanitary with no shaft at all, depending for their 
light and air solely upon the front and back rooms into which they 
open ; for each family, besides having the foul air from its own rooms 
to breathe, is compelled to breathe the emanations from the rooms of 
some eleven other families ; nor is this all, these shafts act as con- 
veyors of noise, odors, and disease, and when fire breaks out serve as 
inflammable flues, often rendering it impossible to save the buildings 
from destruction. 

A family living in such a building pays for four rooms of this 
kind a rent of from $12 to $18 a month. Of these four rooms only 
two are large enough to be deserving of the name of rooms. The 
front one is generally about 10 feet 6 inches wide by 11 feet 3 inches 
long ; this the family use as a parlor, and often at night, when 
the small bedrooms opening upon the air shaft are so close and ill- 
ventilated that sleep is impossible, mattresses are dragged upon the 
floor of the parlor, and there the family sleep, all together in one 
room. In summer the small bedrooms are so hot and stifling that a 
large part of the tenement house population sleep on the roofs, the 
sidewalks, and the fire-escapes. The other room, the kitchen, is 
generally the same size as the parlor upon which it opens, and 
receives all its light and air from the " air shaft," or such a supply 
as may come to it from the front room. Behind these two rooms 
are the bedrooms, so called, which are hardly more than closets, 
being each about 7 feet wide and 8 feet 6 inches long, hardly large 
enough to contain a bed. These rooms get no light and air whatso- 
ever, except that which comes from the "air shaft," and except on 
the highest stories are generally almost totally dark. Upon the 
opposite side of the public hall is an apartment containing four 
exactly similar rooms, and at the rear of the building there are, 
instead of four rooms on each side of the hallway, but three, one of 
the bedrooms being dispensed with. For these three rooms in the 
rear the rent is generally throughout the city from $10 to $15 a 
month. In the public hallway, opposite the stairs, there are pro- 
vided two water-closets, each water-closet being used in common by 
two families and being lighted and ventilated by the " air shaft," 
which also lights and ventilates all the bedrooms. In the newer 
buildings there is frequently provided, in the hallway between the 
two closets, a dumb-waiter for the use of the tenants. 



10 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that with such a kind of 
tenement house repeated all over the different parts of this city, and 
forming practically the only kind of habitation for the great mass of 
the people, the tenement house system has become fraught with so 
much danger to the welfare of the community. The effect upon the 
city population of the form of congregated living found in our tene- 
ment houses is to be seen, not only in its results upon the health of 
the people, but upon their moral and social condition as well. The 
public mind is just now especially aroused over the manifestation of 
one special form of vice in tenement districts. It is not to be won- 
dered at that vice in various forms should manifest itself in the tene- 
ments ; the wonder is that there is not more vice in such districts. 
The tenement districts of New York are places in which thousands 
of people are living in the smallest space in which it is possible for 
human beings to exist crowded together in dark, ill- ventilated 
rooms, in many of which the sunlight never enters and in most of 
which fresh air is unknown. They are centres of disease, poverty, 
vice, and crime, where it is a marvel, not that some children grow up 
to be thieves, drunkards, and prostitutes, but that so many should 
ever grow up to be decent and self-respecting. All the conditions 
which surround childhood, youth, and womanhood in New York's 
crowded tenement quarters make for unrighteousness. They also 
make for disease. There is hardly a tenement house in which there 
has not been at least one case of pulmonary tuberculosis within the 
last five years, and in some houses there have been as great a num- 
ber as twenty-two different cases of this terrible disease. From the 
tenements there comes a stream of sick, helpless people to our hospi- 
tals and dispensaries, few of whom are able to afford the luxury of a 
private physician, and some houses are in such bad sanitary condi- 
tion that few people can be seriously ill in them and get well ; from 
them also comes a host of paupers and charity seekers. The most 
terrible of all the features of tenement house life in New York, how- 
ever, is the indiscriminate herding of all kinds of people in close 
contact, the fact, that, mingled with the drunken, the dissolute, the 
improvident, the diseased, dwell the great mass of the respectable 
working-men of the city with their families. 

THE LINE OF REMEDIAL ACTION 

That many of the evils of such a tenement house system can be 
remedied by legislation there is no doubt. They have arisen largely 
because of the absence of wise, restrictive legislation. That it is 
the duty of the State to remedy these evils can also not be doubted, 
and the State has recognized this duty repeatedly for the past forty 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 11 

years. This Commission, therefore, has sought with the utmost care 
to determine by what means these evils can be remedied. It has 
studied the work done by all previous Commissions since 1834. It 
has studied all laws that have been enacted on this subject in this 
State since 1852 ; it has investigated the way in which the working- 
man is housed in twenty-seven of the largest cities in this country, 
as well as the laws upon this subject in these cities. It has also 
endeavored to avail itself of the experience of European communities 
in this regard, and two of the members of the Commission have had 
the opportunity of personally investigating housing conditions in 
Europe. The laws in leading European cities bearing upon this 
subject have also been carefully reviewed. The Commission has 
sought at all times the freest and frankest expression of the views 
of every person interested in this subject and of those who have 
special knowledge or experience bearing upon it, and has done its 
utmost to secure suggestions and expressions of opinion both publicly 
and privately. 

From a review of the efforts made to secure tenement house re- 
form in this city in the past sixty years, the Commission is of opinion 
that the failure to accomplish more has been partly because of the 
lack of continuous effort. The efforts made have been spasmodic 
and in nearly every case at intervals of ten or five years. The sub- 
ject is one of the most difficult and complicated social problems in 
existence, and requires constant and continuous attention. It is not 
too late, however, to remedy many of the evils and mitigate others. 

The tenement house problem in New York is a threefold one, 
and its solution lies along three definite lines of action : 

FIRST. To provide proper types of new tenement houses for 
the future by means of adequate restrictive legislation, and to forbid 
the erection of any others. 

SECOND. To remedy the errors of past years by altering and 
improving old tenement houses so as to make them fit for human 
habitation. 

THIRD. To maintain present and future tenement houses in 
sanitary condition by adequate supervision. 

The present tenement laws are a series of amendments to existing 
statutes, and since the passage of the first tenement house act have 
never been codified. The result has been that the laws contain many 
conflicting sections and many serious inconsistencies, and are in their 
requirements often illogical, with the still further defect that they 
are imperfectly arranged and often couched in language so involved 
that it is almost impossible for the ordinary builder or architect to 
understand them without calling in the services of a lawyer. The 
Commission, therefore, has prepared a complete code of tenement 



12 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 



house laws, and has sought to so arrange and express their various 
provisions as to make the law plain to all persons. In so doing it 
has endeavored, so far as possible, to retain the substance of past 
legislation. 




TUBERCULOSIS MAP. 

Each dot represents one case of tuberculosis reported to the Board of Health in five years. Only half the 

cases are generally reported. 

As has been stated, the greatest evil of the present day is the 
lack of light and air, and it is in the new type of building which is 
being erected at the present time that this evil is especially felt. As 
a result of this lack of light and air, we find that the dread disease 
of pulmonary tuberculosis has become practically epidemic in this 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 13 

city. The testimony taken before the Tenement House Commission 
at its public hearings, in which leading physicians and specialists 
upon this subject testified, shows that there are over eight thou- 
sand deaths a year in New York City due to this disease alone ; 
that there are at least twenty thousand cases of well-developed and 
recognized pulmonary tuberculosis in the city, and in addition a large 
number of obscure or incipient cases. The connection between this 
disease and the character of the tenement houses in which the poor 
people live is of the very closest. 

The work of the Committee of 1865 was due in large part to the 
epidemics of typhus fever, smallpox, and similar diseases existing at 
that time, caused largely by the unsanitary condition of the tene- 
ment houses. The chief problem then was to do away with filth 
and provide tenement houses with proper sanitary conveniences. 
To-day the problem is different. There are no longer epidemics of 
typhus and typhoid fever in this city, although recent developments 
have shown how easy it is for a disease like smallpox to find a foot- 
hold in the tenements, despite the watchful measures of the Board of 
Health. There exists at the present time, however, a much more 
serious epidemic caused by the peculiar evils of the tenement houses 
at the present time pulmonary tuberculosis. 

It was the testimony of all the physicians who testified before 
the Tenement House Commission that the conditions in the tene- 
ment houses were directly responsible for the tremendous extent 
and spread of this contagious disease, and that the first and most 
important step to be taken to check it was the improvement of the 
tenement house, especially with regard to light and air. 



THE AIR SHAFT 

Bearing these facts in mind, it becomes evident that the present 
type of " air shaft " must be done away with in all future tenement 
houses. Practically all the witnesses who testified before the Com- 
mission united in the opinion that the " air shaft " was the most 
serious evil of the present tenement house. This testimony came 
from people who live in tenement houses, from settlement and 
charity workers living in tenement districts, from physicians, from 
tenement house owners, and from every one who has had any knowl- 
edge or experience of this subject. One of the witnesses said that 
the " air shaft " should not be called an air shaft, but should be called 
" a foul air shaft," and we find that it has even been designated as " a 
culture tube on a gigantic scale." The objections to the " air shaft " 
are that, owing to its narrowness and height, it cannot possibly afford 
light to the rooms, but only semi-darkness ; that, owing to the same 



14 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

narrowness and height, and also to the fact that it is generally 
enclosed on four sides, it is impossible for it to furnish fresh air to 
the rooms, but instead it simply becomes a stagnant well of foul air 
emptied from each one of the rooms opening upon it, which some- 
times are as many as sixty. Many persons testified that the air 
from these shafts was so foul and the odors so vile that they had to 
close the windows opening into them, and in some cases the windows 
were permanently nailed up for this reason. Moreover, the tenants 
often use the air shaft as a receptacle for garbage and all sorts of 
refuse and indescribable filth thrown out of the windows, and this 
mass of filth is often allowed to remain, rotting at the bottom of the 
shaft for weeks without being cleaned out. 

From other points of view than that of light and air the air shaft 
stands condemned. It serves as a conveyor of smells and noise and 
is one of the greatest elements in destroying privacy in the tenement 
house. Through it one hears the sounds that occur in the rooms of 
every other family in the building, and often in these narrow shafts 
the windows of one apartment look directly into the windows of 
another apartment not more than 5 feet away. Privacy under such 
conditions is not only difficult, but impossible. The attention of 
the Commission has been called to the fact that these conditions 
have led in numerous cases to grave immorality. 

From the point of view of danger from fire the " air shaft " is 
equally objectionable. The fire department for years has protested 
against it as one of the most serious evils with which it has to con- 
tend in fighting tenement house fires. From the investigation of 
the way in which fire spreads through tenement houses made by this 
Commission, embracing all tenement house fires occurring during 
the past two years and a half in this city, we find that 26 per cent, 
or over one-fourth, of all the fires spread by means of the " air shaft." 
It is not at all surprising that this should be the case, because such 
a shaft in case of fire must necessarily become nothing more than 
a tremendous flue. 

The Commission therefore recommends that such narrow " air 
shafts " be absolutely prohibited in all future tenement houses, and 
that proper courts sufficiently large to secure adequate light and 
ventilation to all rooms be required. 

DIMENSIONS OF COURTS 

The Commission has sought to establish a principle regulating 
the size of courts, and in doing so has based its conclusions largely 
upon laws already found in existence in the cities of Buffalo and 
Philadelphia, where they have in practice worked admirably. The 




TYPICAL LIGHT SHAFT. 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 15 

law in Buffalo distinguishes between an open court and a closed court, 
that is, between one that is open on one side and permits a circula- 
tion of air, and one that is closed on all four sides. Where the court 
is open, for a building four stories high, the Buffalo law requires 
that such a court must be at least 8 feet wide in its narrowest 
part, and must increase 1 foot in width for every story above four 
stories in height, and that an enclosed court must be of larger dimen- 
sions. In Philadelphia the law similarly prohibits any court of 
a less width than 8 feet and requires that where such a court is 
between wings of the same building, or between different buildings^ 
its minimum width shall be at least 12 feet. The recommenda- 
tions made by this Commission are along these lines. We deem it 
essential to provide for a minimum width of all open spaces, and we 
further deem it essential that such width shall be proportionate to 
the height of the building. The recommendations of the Commis- 
sion upon this subject will not create what the Commission believes 
to be ideal conditions, nor are they such as it would recommend if 
there were no other controlling considerations. These recommen- 
dations are that the size of all open spaces left for the purposes of 
providing light and ventilation shall in every case be regulated by 
the height of the building. This system of regulation has for many 
years been recognized as the proper one, not only in European and 
American cities, but in the laws of this State as well, the law since 
1885 having made the height of buildings proportionate to the width 
of the streets upon which they face. 

The general features of this scheme are as follows : The Com- 
mission has sought to distinguish between outer courts and inner 
courts, as is done in the Buffalo law, and has provided that for a 
building 60 feet in height the width of an outer court where it is 
situated on the lot line shall not be less than 6 feet ; and that 
where such a court is between wings of the same building or between 
different buildings on the same lot the width of this court shall be 
12 feet ; and that for buildings over 60 feet in height these courts 
shall increase in width for every additional story, 6 inches when 
the court is on the lot line, and 1 foot when the court is between 
wings of the same building, and of course permitting a correspond- 
ing decrease of width when such buildings are less than 60 feet in 
height. Inner courts enclosed on four sides, and therefore having 
much less opportunity for direct sunlight and for circulation of air, 
have been treated differently. The Commission has laid down for 
such courts, when situated on the lot line, a minimum width of 12 
feet with a minimum other dimension of 24 feet, and where such 
inner courts are entirely enclosed by four walls the least dimension 
must be 24 feet. A similar provision for an increase in both dimen- 



16 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

sions proportionate to an increase in height of the building, and for 
a decrease in both dimensions proportionate to a decrease in the 
height of the building, has been provided. 

This system, which may at first glance seem a new way of regulat- 
ing open spaces, was in fact enunciated in the first tenement house 
law, passed in 1867. One of the great evils at that time was the 
rear tenement house, built upon the same lot with a front building 
and with a very small space between the buildings. The law pro- 
vided that such distance should be 25 feet when the buildings were 
over three stories in height, 20 feet if three stories in height, 15 
feet if two stories in height, and 10 feet if one story, thus provid- 
ing a minimum width and a proportionate increase and decrease 
according to the height of the building. 

OPEN SPACE AT REAR 

As all the light received by the rear rooms of a tenement house 
is that which comes to it from the back yard, it is of great impor- 
tance that this space at the rear should be kept as large as possible. 
As time has gone on the size of this space has been gradually dimin- 
ished. Forty years ago the back yards were generally 40 feet in 
depth, and twenty years ago they were at least 20 feet in depth, 
while to-day they are only 10 feet deep, leaving practically no yard 
to the building. This not only diminishes the amount of light and 
air available for the rear rooms, but also prevents there being any 
place in which children living in the tenement house may play. The 
consequence is that they are driven to the street. Many of the 
recommendations made to the Commission have urged the increase of 
this space from 10 feet to 15 feet. The logical requirement would 
be that as the height of the building should be proportionate to the 
street upon which it faces, it should also be proportionate to the 
yard upon which it backs. Practical and commercial considera- 
tions, however, make it unwise at this day to require such a change. 
The Commission has, therefore, recommended that the back yard 
be increased to 12 feet in depth instead of 10 feet in the case of 
buildings 60 feet in height, and that this depth be increased in 
proportion to an increased height of the building. In the case of 
corner lots the back yard space must be 10 feet deep instead of 5. 
This is especially necessary in the case of corner buildings for the 
reason that this open space is practically the only means of venti- 
lating the interior portions of the whole block, and that otherwise, 
with the tall modern tenements and the present contracted back 
yard space, the air in the interior of the block would soon become 
stagnant and vitiated. 




TYPICAL BACK-YARD. 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 17 



PROPORTION OF LOT TO ^2 BUILT UPON 

The question of what proportion jf a lot may be permitted to be 
occupied by a new tenement house is one that has had the most 
serious consideration of the emission. The first law upon this 
subject that of 1879 L .ited this amount to 65 per cent of the 
area of the lot, but gave to the Board of Health power to modify 
this provision in special cases. This practically remained the law 
until 1891, when this discretionary power was taken away from the 
Board of Health, and the area of a lot permitted to be occupied was 
limited to 65 per cent. In 1892 this law was reenacted, but in the 
same year at a later date an amendment to the general law was 
passed, permitting the Board of Health to make other regulations 
44 within present provisions of law " as to the proportion of any lot 
to be covered by a tenement house when it was satisfied that such 
regulation would secure equally well the health of the occupants 
and the public health. In 1895 this part of the law was amended 
so as to read as follows : 

44 No one continuous building hereafter constructed shall be built 
or converted to the purposes of a tenement or lodging house in the 
city of New York, upon an ordinary city lot, and no existing tene- 
ment or lodging house shall be enlarged or altered, or its lot be 
diminished so that it shall occupy more than 65 per centum of the 
area of said lot, but where the light and ventilation of such tene- 
ment or lodging house are, in the opinion of the superintendent of 
buildings, materially improved, he may permit such tenement or 
lodging house to occupy an area not exceeding 75 per centum of the 
said lot, and in the same proportion if the lot be greater or less in 
size than 25 x 100 feet ; but this provision shall not apply to corner 
lots, in which, however, no such building hereafter constructed, 
above the first story shall occupy more than 92 per centum of the 
area of a lot. In computing the amount of the lot covered by a 
building, any shaft or court of less than 25 square feet in area shall 
be considered as part of the building and not as part of the free air 
space." 

In the opinion of many this discretionary power to permit occupa- 
tion of 75 per cent of the lot was limited by the law to old buildings 
which were altered. The law, however, has been interpreted to give 
this discretion for new buildings as well as for old buildings, and 
the discretion has been exercised in fact in almost every case. Of 
the new tenement houses examined by the Commission in course of 
construction in the Borough of Manhattan it was found that 99 per 
cent occupied more than 65 per cent of the area of the lot. Many 
members of the Commission have thought that the percentage of the 

VOL. I C 



18 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

lot permitted to be occupied should not exceed 65 per cent ; but the 
Commission, as a whole, believes that in view of the existing practice 
it is not advisable to restrict the area to be occupied beyond 70 per 
cent of the lot, especially in view of the other provisions made in 
the proposed tenement house law regarding the minimum size of 
courts and open spaces, which will undoubtedly secure proper sani- 
tary conditions. The Commission, therefore, renews the recommen- 
dation of the Tenement House Commission of 1894 to this effect. 



WINDOWS TO OPEN ON THE OUTER AIR 

While the present law requires that every room in a new tene- 
ment house must have a window opening to the outer air, there has 
been considerable divergence of opinion in the minds of the officials 
enforcing this law as to what constitutes the outer air. We find 
that in Manhattan an air shaft 28 inches wide, 60 feet long, 85 feet 
high, and enclosed on four sides is deemed the outer air, but that an 
air shaft less than 25 square feet in area and covered over at the top 
with a skylight is not deemed the outer air. The Commissioner of 
Buildings for the Borough of Brooklyn, on the other hand, testified 
that he deemed a shaft 10 square feet in area covered over at the 
top with a skylight to be the outer air, and that he also considered 
that a room which had no window except a window leading into the 
public hall of the building complied with the law, because the hall 
into which this window opened was provided in the roof, three stories 
above, with a ventilating skylight. In view of these facts, the Com- 
mission has provided that every room in a tenement house, except a 
water-closet or bath-room, must open either upon the street or upon 
a yard or upon an inner or an outer court of a size as prescribed in 
the act. An exception, however, as has been stated, has been made 
in regard to water-closets and bath-rooms, in the belief that these 
parts of the building might properly secure their ventilation and 
light in a different manner. 

DARK HALLWAYS 

The evils of the dark, unventilated hallways have been recognized 
ever since the first effort was made to remedy tenement house con- 
ditions ; and the first law in regard to tenement houses sought to 
remedy these evils by providing that the halls on each floor should 
open directly to the external air with suitable windows, and should 
have no room or other obstruction at the end. A proviso was added, 
however, giving discretionary power to the Board of Health to per- 
mit other means of lighting and ventilating these halls. This pro- 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 19 

vision of the law has been reenacted in every amendment of the 
law since 1867. It has practically never been enforced. The effect 
of the dark, un ventilated hallway upon health is serious. Any one 
who has had much experience in tenement houses knows that the 
majority of the hallways are pitch-black ; that a person enters from 
the street, gropes his way along the wall, and stumbles up the stairs 
as best he can ; that, being unventilated, the halls retain the odors 
that have come from the different apartments, odors of cooking as 
well as accumulated odors of every kind. Moreover, being dark, 
the tenants do not care whether the halls are clean or not, as no one 
can see the dirt, and they at a very early date become very filthy. 
More serious, even, than the evils due to dirt and the lack of venti- 
lation are the moral evils of these places. 

The following part of a letter from the vicar of St. Augustine's 
Chapel, which has been signed by twelve other clergymen who at 
different times have worked at this chapel, expresses better than can 
be done in any other way the dangers of the dark hallway : 

" For nearly thirty years I have been vicar of this church, which 
is situated in almost the centre of the East Side tenement district 
of New York City. 

"From confidential communications that have been made to me 
by the young women themselves, I know that numbers of respectable 
girls have been seduced at the very thresholds of their homes. A 
party, or the theatre, or a ball, and a late supper with wine, leading 
to improper liberties in the lonely streets on the way home, then the 
dark and at that time lifeless halls and stairways of the tenement, 
and the sin is done, the apartment door alone hiding the erring 
daughter from the sleeping mother. Whatever the girl's wishes 
may be, she can do nothing shame prevents her from crying out 
then and there, and arousing the whole house. 

" The fact is, dark halls and staircases are destructive to morality, 
since they give constant opportunities and furnish most plausible 
excuses for personal familiarities of the worst kind between the 
sexes." 

The reports of previous Commissions point conclusively to the 
same facts, yet, notwithstanding this, practically nothing has been 
done to remedy these evils. The Tenement House Commission of 
1894, thoroughly aware of this evil, sought to remedy it, and pro- 
vided, in the law which was enacted as a result of their recommenda- 
tions, that in every hallway that was not light the owner should 
keep a light burning upon each floor from sunrise to ten o'clock at 
night. This law, however, has become a dead letter, and the Board 
of Health makes practically no attempt to enforce this provision. 
This Commission has sought, therefore, to devise some way by which 



20 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

such halls can be kept lighted. It is obvious that a law requiring 
the light to be kept burning is very difficult of enforcement, because 
when the inspector's back is turned the light will be turned out. 
The Commission has sought, therefore, to substitute for this pro- 
vision of the law a provision which when once enforced will stay 
enforced. It recommends, therefore, that wherever a tenement house 
hallway is now dark the wooden panels in the doors shall be removed 
and glass panels substituted, or if this be not done that a proper 
window be placed at the end of the hall leading to the outer air. 
Either one of these things will greatly remedy the existing con- 
ditions. 

These requirements will apply to the tenement houses that are 
already constructed. In regard to the new buildings to be erected 
in the future, the Commission has provided that every public hallway 
shall have a window opening to the outer air so that such hallways 
shall be light, and the evils that have existed in former tenement 
houses may not be repeated in the new. 

The Commission has also recommended that a light shall be kept 
burning in the public hallways of all tenement houses upon the 
entrance floor, and also upon the second floor above, every night 
from sunset to sunrise throughout the year, and that upon all other 
floors such a light shall be kept burning from sunset until ten o'clock 
at night. This requirement has been urged upon the Commission 
with practical unanimity, not only from the point of view of morality, 
but also for the purpose of preventing fires. The Fire Department 
has been especially desirous that such a law should be enacted. 

FIRE PROTECTION 

The Commission has given most serious attention to the subject 
of danger from fires in tenement houses. There has been a very 
strong feeling on the part of a certain element in the community 
demanding that all future tenement houses shall be constructed fire- 
proof throughout. The Commission, however, after very carefully 
weighing this subject and after having estimates made as to the 
additional cost of such fireproof construction, finds that to make 
it compulsory at the present time will place too heavy a burden 
upon the owners of tenement houses and also upon tenement house 
dwellers. That if such a method of construction were made compul- 
sory, rents in tenement houses already high would be raised to 
such a point that tenement house dwellers would seriously suffer. 
The Commission has therefore sought to secure every safeguard 
possible in respect to fire without going to the extreme measure 
of making fireproof tenements compulsory. It has limited the height 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 21 

of future non-fireproof tenement houses to five stories, except in 
the case of a building having a width of 40 feet or more, in 
such cases permitting the buildings to be erected to a height of 
six stories or 67 feet. The laws of this State in 1896 limited the 
height of all non-fireproof buildings to 70 feet, which does not 
vary much from this requirement. The Commission has come to 
these conclusions in regard to the height of non-fireproof tenement 
houses only after the most serious consideration and discussion of 
all the questions involved. It is the one point about which there 
has been an earnest difference of opinion between the members of 
the Commission, a considerable part of the Commission wishing to 
go farther in restricting the height of non-fireproof tenement houses 
to five stories under all circumstances, and permitting no non-fire- 
proof tenement house to exceed this height. The majority of the 
Commission, however, having in mind the practical and commercial 
considerations involved, did not see their way clear to making such rec- 
ommendations at the present time. They find that while the greater 
part of the tenement houses in this city are five stories high, and 
that only 3 per cent of all these buildings are six stories high, yet 
the tenement houses being erected at the present time are permitted 
under certain conditions to be even as high as seven stories and base- 
ment without the building being made fireproof, and also that about 
one-half the new tenement houses erected during the past year 
have been over five stories in height. 

FIRST FLOOR OVER CELLAR TO BE FIREPROOF 

The Commission has recommended that the present law be con- 
tinued in force which requires that in all new tenement houses five 
stories or over in height the first floor over the cellar shall be entirely 
fireproof. The investigations of the Commission show that 26 per 
cent of all the tenement house fires originate in the cellar, and that 
a great majority of these cellar fires occur at night, many of them 
starting in the wood-bins, where there is stored a quantity of inflam- 
mable material. It is apparent, therefore, that the cellar where such 
fires generally originate should be shut off from the other parts of 
the building by fireproof materials. This the Commission has sought 
to accomplish by requiring the first floor to be fireproof, and also by 
the requirement that in non-fireproof buildings there shall be no 
opening between the cellar and the other parts of the building. 
This has been urged by the Fire Department for a number of years, 
and was recommended by the Commission of 1894. It is practically 
the present law upon this subject, although in special cases excep- 
tions have been permitted. The Commission would have been glad 



22 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

to recommend that all wood-bins in the cellars of non-fireproof tene- 
ment houses should be constructed of fireproof materials. As a 
matter of fact this was the law in 1867, but it was repealed some 
few years later. The Commission, however, finds that this form of 
construction would add materially to the cost of a new tenement 
house. It, therefore, limits such a requirement to those cases in 
which the first floor in a new tenement house is not constructed 
fireproof. 

The Commission has also required that in new tenement houses 
which are not fireproof throughout, the entire stairs and those parts 
of the public halls through which persons must pass in escaping 
from the building, shall be constructed absolutely fireproof, and 
shall be shut off from the other portions of the building by fireproof 
material. Investigations made by the Commission of two different 
tenement house fires show that in one, where such a form of construc- 
tion was not adopted, the building was almost entirely destroyed and 
thirteen persons were burned to death ; that in the other case, where 
a form of construction of this kind had been used, the fire was prac- 
tically confined to the public hall and stairs and quickly burned 
itself out. 

The recommendations made by the Commission in regard to this 
subject are practically the reenactment of the existing laws. 

The Commission finds that in the Building Code, a local ordi- 
nance, there is a requirement that where there is a store on the first 
floor of a tenement house, and the building is also five stories in 
height, the second tier of beams or the beams over the store shall 
also be constructed of fireproof materials. As the Commission finds 
that only 10 per cent of all the tenement house fires originate in 
stores, and as the present law does not require the partitions enclos- 
ing the stores to be fireproof, this requirement seems to afford but 
little additional protection and not to be of sufficient importance to 
warrant making it compulsory. 

Wooden tenement houses are of course prohibited inside the fire 
limits of the city of New York, and the Commission has therefore 
considered whether it is desirable to permit such buildings to be 
erected outside the fire limits. In view of the conditions existing 
in certain boroughs which are still partly country and partly city, it 
has been felt that it would be a hardship to prohibit the erection of 
such buildings outside the fire limits, and the Commission has there- 
fore permitted buildings of this kind to be erected in these outlying 
boroughs, provided that no such building is arranged to be occupied 
by more than four families. 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 23 



FIRE-ESCAPES 

Forty-one deaths were caused by tenement house fires during the 
past year. The actual number of lives lost, however, is not a fair test 
of the importance of this subject. There are many injuries short of 
death almost as serious, besides those which are caused by panic 
and exposure. The Commission finds that from the very earliest 
times tenement houses have been required to have fire-escapes, and 
that generally the kind and location of these fire-escapes have been 
left to the discretion of the Commissioner of Buildings. Investiga- 
tions made by the Commission show that there are thousands of 
tenement houses without proper fire-escapes, and that many fire- 
escapes are improperly constructed and are totally inadequate for 
the purpose intended. It has sought, therefore, to embody in its 
proposed code detailed provisions as to how fire-escapes shall be con- 
structed and where they shall be located on tenement houses which 
are not fireproof. While it might at first sight seem that the Com- 
mission has gone into very great detail in these provisions, upon 
examination it will be found that the provisions are to a very large 
extent copies of the present regulations of the Department of Build- 
ings, and that where they depart from these regulations they have 
been modelled upon the requirements of the law in Philadelphia 
regarding fire-escapes. The Commission believes that it is unwise 
to leave so important a matter to the discretion of any public official, 
no matter how honest and efficient he may be, and that the laws upon 
such a subject should be explicit and mandatory. 

CELLAR ROOMS 

One of the earliest evils of our tenement houses was the occu- 
pancy of cellar rooms, and the first tenement house law sought par- 
ticularly to remedy this evil. The law which was passed then upon 
this subject has been reenacted every time the tenement house law 
has been amended with slight changes each time the requirements 
being made somewhat more severe so as to safeguard the public 
health. There has been on the part of many persons a demand that 
the Commission should recommend a law absolutely forbidding the 
occupancy of any room partly under ground. This the Commission 
cannot see its way clear to do, because it is of opinion that many 
such rooms can easily be made habitable, and that a great injustice 
would be done if their occupancy were forbidden. The Commission, 
however, believes that in new tenement houses the law in this regard 
should provide that no room more than one-half of which is below 
the level of the curb should be occupied for living purposes. 



24 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 



SEPARATE WATER-CLOSET ACCOMMODATIONS 

In regard to the subject of water-closet accommodations, the 
Commission recommends that in every tenement house erected in 
future a separate water-closet shall be provided for each family 
within the apartments. This, the Commission believes, is required 
by common decency and morals, and no one who has made any 
recommendation to them has not agreed with this view. As a 
matter of fact, the Commission finds that it is becoming the practice 
for builders to provide separate water-closet accommodations in new 
tenement houses from motives of self-interest, although the present 
law only requires one water-closet for every two families. In 61 
per cent of the new tenement houses examined, it was found that a 
private water-closet was provided for each family. 

GENERAL SANITARY PROVISIONS 

In regard to the subject of plumbing, the Commission finds that 
on the whole the present plumbing law as embodied in the Building 
Code is adequate if properly enforced. It would add, however, one 
or two additional recommendations : That the water-closet compart- 
ments shall be provided with proper means of lighting the same at 
night, and that all plumbing pipes, wherever possible, be exposed, or 
that, if such pipes are covered, they shall be arranged in such a way 
that access can be had to them without cutting open the floors or 
partitions ; also that where they pass through floors or through the 
partitions the space shall be made air-tight with some non-combus- 
tible material, so as to prevent the spread of fire from floor to floor, 
and also to prevent the passage of air from one room to another. 
This will also be beneficial in checking the spread of contagious 
disease. 

The Commission also recommends that in existing tenement 
houses the following requirements of the present law be continued 
in force : That such houses be provided with a proper and adequate 
water supply ; that they shall be kept at all times in a clean condi- 
tion ; that proper receptacles shall be provided at all times for ashes, 
garbage, refuse, etc.; that there shall be a janitor or housekeeper 
for every tenement house where there are eight families or more. 

The Commission also recommends that at the bottom of every 
shaft or court there shall be a door so as to permit these shafts to be 
cleaned out, it having developed that such shafts are often covered 
at the bottom with rubbish which it is almost impossible to remove, 
owing to the fact that there is no means of access to the shaft. 

The Commission has carefully considered the provisions of the 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 25 

present law in regard to the use of wall paper in tenement houses, 
and has recommended that no change be made in that portion of the 
law which requires that where any wall paper is placed upon a wall 
or ceiling the existing wall paper shall be removed and the wall or 
ceiling shall be thoroughly cleansed. The other provision, however, 
of the present law upon this subject, that the walls and ceilings of 
every tenement house shall be whitewashed once a year, the Com- 
mission has not found itself able to recommend. While it appre- 
ciates the sanitary advantages of such a requirement in some cases, 
it is manifestly unfair to apply this law to the better grade of apart- 
ment houses and flats. Such an application of it would cause not 
only hardship, but great discomfort, and would be deemed by the 
tenants an unwarrantable interference with their natural rights and 
liberties. The Commission has, therefore, recommended that this 
portion of the law be repealed. It has, however, required that the 
walls and ceilings of the cellars shall be whitewashed once a year ; 
this the Commission considers essential. It has also recommended 
further that the walls of all air shafts shall either be whitewashed at 
least once in three years or shall be painted a light color at least 
once every five years. 

The above statement summarizes the more important recommen- 
dations of the Commission in regard to tenement houses to be 
erected in the future. 



NON-ENFORCEMENT OF THE LAWS IN EXISTING TENEMENT 

HOUSES 

In regard to the existing tenement houses, the Commission is of 
opinion that the most serious evils are due to the lack of proper, 
adequate sanitary supervision. When it is borne in mind that there 
are in Greater New York 82,652 tenement houses, containing a popu- 
lation of 2,372,079 persons, and that the entire corps of sanitary 
inspectors of the Department of Health devoting their time to this 
work is sixty-one inspectors for the entire city, including the Bronx, 
Brooklyn, and the other boroughs, as well as Manhattan, it is not to 
be wondered at that grave evils exist, or that the sanitary condition 
of the tenements is one which calls for the most effective remedies. 
It is obviously a physical impossibility for so small a corps of men 
to make the slightest pretence of adequately inspecting such build- 
ings. The law calls for a semiannual inspection of all tenement 
houses. This has developed practically into a tenement house 
census twice a year, and the entire time of the Sanitary Squad of 
policemen detailed by the Police Department to secure the enforce- 
ment of the tenement house laws is taken up with this work. The 



26 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

officials of the Department of Health stated in their testimony before 
the Commission, that, with the exception of the census referred to, 
it had become the practice in the Health Department to inspect tene- 
ment houses only upon complaint, and that the entire time of the 
inspectors was taken up in investigating such complaints and seeing 
that they were remedied, and that it was absolutely impossible for 
the department to make a thorough inspection of the tenement 
houses on its own initiative. Until there is an adequate corps of 
sanitary inspectors to inspect the lower grade of tenement houses 
thoroughly at least once a month, there is little hope that the evils 
of the existing tenement houses will be remedied. The value of 
such an inspection cannot be overestimated. The report of the 
inspector employed by the Commission shows that his mere presence 
in buildings, without giving any orders or without any legal pro- 
ceedings being brought, was of the most beneficial effect, and that 
it had a salutary moral influence in remedying bad conditions. If 
this is so in the case of one man attempting to use no authority, 
it is not difficult to conceive what results could be accomplished if 
a systematic, thorough, and frequent inspection of the tenements 
were made. 

The Commission finds, however, that the Department of Health 
is charged with many other duties besides the duty of tenement 
house inspection. It has, for instance, the management of four 
hospitals ; the recording of death, birth, and marriage statistics for 
the entire city; the prevention of the spread of contagious and 
infectious diseases ; the disinfecting of all buildings ; the inspection 
of mercantile establishments, and the granting of permits to school 
children to work ; milk inspection, meat, fish, fruit, and food inspec- 
tion; the regulation of offensive trades; the prohibition of smoke 
nuisances ; the management of bacteriological laboratories ; the pro- 
duction of antitoxin ; the medical inspection of schools and school 
children ; the analysis of the water supply ; the removal of dead 
animals from the streets; the inspection of the elevated railroad, 
etc., etc. It is apparent that, with all these other duties to perform, 
the work of the supervision and sanitary maintenance of 82,000 tene- 
ment houses is apt to be somewhat neglected. 

The report of every previous Tenement House Commission has 
called attention to the fact that the Department of Health has not 
had a sufficient number of inspectors to properly perform its duties, 
and as a consequence, the number of such inspectors has been from 
time to time slightly increased. This, however, has failed to meet 
the situation. 

It is to be noted also that there is no special bureau of the Health 
Department for the supervision of the tenement houses, nor is there 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 27 

any official or employee of this department devoting his entire time 
to such work, but that the inspectors are given districts throughout 
the city and are required to inspect all buildings within these dis- 
tricts. The fact that the department no longer makes inspections 
on its own initiative, but does most of its work on complaint of citi- 
zens, shows that a radical change is imperative. It should not be 
necessary for any considerable number of such complaints to be filed. 
There should be systematic, regular, thorough, and adequate in- 
spection of all the tenement houses in this city at all times. If such 
inspection were carried on, the greater part of the tenement house 
evils would be remedied without the necessity for the filing of com- 
plaints, or for taking legal proceedings, or for the issuance of the 
numerous "orders" that are now issued by the Department of 
Health. To any one of experience in sanitary affairs, it is obvious 
that if such inspection is properly carried out the sanitary evils will 
very greatly diminish. It has been the history of Glasgow and all 
other well-administered municipalities. In Glasgow there are 150 
sanitary inspectors and in London about 230. While the Commis- 
sion appreciates that so large a force means additional outlay by the 
city, it believes that any sum of money likely to be spent for this 
work would be a paying investment both to the city and the State. 

NON-ENFORCEMENT OF THE LAW IN NEW TENEMENTS 

Out of 333 new tenement houses in course of construction which 
were inspected in the Borough of Manhattan, only fifteen were found 
in which there were no violations of law. In the other boroughs 
there was no such house found in which there was no violation. 

There is probably no provision of the law more important than that 
which limits the proportion of lot area to be occupied by a building. 

Of the 286 tenements where this information was obtainable, 
282, or 99 per cent, covered more than 65 per cent of the lot ; 274, 
or 96 per cent, more than 70 per cent of the lot ; and 88, or 31 per 
cent, more than 75 per cent of the lot, the extreme limit of discretion 
given to the Building Department. Twenty-nine tenements occu- 
pied 80 per cent of lot area or over. These percentages in other 
boroughs were somewhat less. In Manhattan, out of the houses 
examined in these particulars, 67 per cent had the floors of the.ir 
public halls, 97 per cent their stairs, and 58 per cent the walls en- 
closing their stairs constructed of wood. 

The law requires all these parts of the building to be of " slow- 
burning or fireproof construction." 

In Brooklyn the percentages were 66 per cent, 100 per cent, and 
70 per cent respectively. 



28 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

DIVIDED RESPONSIBILITY ONE CAUSE OF THE NON-ENFORCE- 
MENT OF THE LAW 

A study of the movement for tenement house reform in this 
city during the past sixty years points to the conclusion that a large 
part of the failure to accomplish this reform has been due to the 
lack of some one special body charged with the care and oversight 
of the tenement houses. At present the enforcement of the differ- 
ent laws in relation to these buildings is divided among four dif- 
ferent city departments : the Health Department, the Building 
Department, the Fire Department, and the Police Department, each 
one of which is charged with many other duties. Allusion has al- 
ready been made to the other duties of the Health Department. The 
Department of Buildings, in addition to inspecting tenement houses, 
has the work of examining, approving, and recording all plans for 
all new buildings and the inspection of private dwellings, hotels, 
lodging houses, office buildings, stores, lofts, warehouses, factories, 
stables, schools, churches, hospitals, theatres, etc., etc. Also the 
inspection of plumbing work in all buildings, the inspection of all 
passenger elevators in the city, the inspection of unsafe buildings, 
the making of soil tests, the making of tests of new structural and 
fireproof material, etc., etc. The Building Department officials testi- 
fied before the Commission that there was no special bureau in 
their department charged with the duty of enforcing the tenement 
house laws, and that no distinction was made between tenement 
houses and other buildings in regard to the amount of attention 
given to such work. 

The main duty of the Fire Department is the extinguishment of 
fires ; in addition to this duty, however, it is charged with certain 
other duties with reference to the storage of combustible materials ; 
and in regard to tenement houses is charged with a divided respon- 
sibility for the prevention of the encumbrance of fire-escapes. It 
also has certain duties with reference to bakeries, liquor stores, paint 
shops, and drug stores in existing tenement houses. It has no force 
available for such work and can give it but slight attention. It is 
obvious also that men who have been trained to fight fires cannot be 
economically used for work of ordinary inspection. 

The Police Department, in addition to its police duties, shares 
with the Health Department the responsibility for the sanitary 
inspection of tenement houses, and is required to report all violations 
of the tenement house laws and ordinances, and also of the sanitary 
code. It also shares with the Fire Department the responsibility 
for the enforcement of the law in regard to the encumbrance of fire- 
escapes on tenement houses. 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 29 

It is apparent that the enforcement of the tenement house laws, 
being only a small part of the work of these four different depart- 
ments, must receive a comparatively small amount of attention. 
This system possesses other disadvantages equally great. Responsi- 
bility being divided, it is difficult to hold any particular person or 
department accountable for the enforcement of the law. This be- 
came very apparent to the Commission at the public hearings, where 
testimony was given by the different city officials. The responsi- 
bility for very serious violations of the law was shifted from one 
official to another to such an extent as to elicit the statement from 
the Assistant Corporation Counsel, that "The shifting of official 
responsibility has become quite a science." When we consider that 
the physical, moral, and industrial welfare of a large part of the 
community is directly affected by this shifting of official responsi- 
bility the consequences become most serious. 

A SEPARATE TENEMENT HOUSE DEPARTMENT NECESSARY 

For the reasons above advanced the Commission is of opinion 
that the best solution of the present and future tenement house 
problem will come through the creation of a separate department 
charged with no duty except the supervision of the tenement houses 
a department of such size as to adequately fulfil such functions. 
This suggestion is entirely in accord with the principle of the divi- 
sion of labor. It is also in line with the historical development of 
municipal organization. 

In the past the Building Department was a bureau of the Fire 
Department. As the city increased in size and the building laws 
became more complex and the work of inspection multiplied, it was 
found necessary to create a separate department to administer the 
building laws. This Commission believes that the time has now 
come when the creation of a separate Tenement House Department 
is imperative. It has, therefore, presented with this report a bill for 
the creation of such a department. 

In making this recommendation the Tenement House Commis- 
sion is simply repeating the recommendation that was urged upon 
the Legislature by the first Committee appointed to investigate this 
subject. This Committee was composed of five members of the 
Assembly, who made a most interesting and valuable report upon 
tenement house conditions in New York at that time. We have 
alluded elsewhere to the value of this report. Had their recom- 
mendations for a Tenement House Department, or, as they called it, 
for a " Board of Home Commissioners," been adopted, the evils that 
now threaten to overwhelm the community would not exist. No 



30 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

one who has studied the tenement house problem can help being 
impressed by the fact that the conditions described in the reports of 
each of the different bodies who have investigated this subject at 
different periods are in nearly every case the same. The Commis- 
sion believes that the continuous attention, year in and year out, of 
some one body directly charged with the enforcement of tenement 
house laws is essential for their administration, and that it can with 
especial propriety urge upon the Legislature the adoption of recom- 
mendations made to that body forty years ago by a committee of its 
own members. 

The necessity for the creation of such a Tenement House Depart- 
ment implies also the necessity for a careful scheme of its organiza- 
tion. The Commission has therefore recommended, in one of the 
bills which accompany this report, that this department shall be or- 
ganized along certain definite lines ; that at its head shall be a sin- 
gle Commissioner, who shall have complete control of his department, 
and who shall be the sole individual whom the people of New York 
can hold responsible for any violation of the laws in relation to tene- 
ment houses. If, then, the laws are not enforced, there will be no 
opportunity for the shifting of responsibility, and the people will 
know with whom they have to deal, and will be able to apply the 
proper remedy. In such a department there should be bureaus, 
charged with specific functions. Prior to 1892, the duty of enforc- 
ing the tenement house laws was vested almost entirely in the Board 
of Health, especially that portion of the tenement house law relating 
to light and ventilation. In 1892, however, these functions were 
transferred to the newly created Department of Buildings. The 
officers of the Department of Health have always considered this a 
serious mistake. If the inspections made by the Tenement House 
Commission of new tenement houses constructed during the past 
year are any criterion, that opinion would seem to be confirmed. 

Leaving aside, however, all other questions of administration, it 
is apparent that the duty of enforcing the laws in relation to the 
light and ventilation of new tenement houses should be placed in a 
department whose daily duties take its officers and employees into 
existing tenement houses, and who are thereby familiar with existing 
evils and qualified to pass intelligently on these important particu- 
lars in the planning of new tenement houses. . At present, the 
officials of the Building Department practically never go into a com- 
pleted tenement house. Their duties cease after the construction of 
the building is finished. They therefore are not likely to be familiar 
with tenement house evils. They will not have the knowledge or 
experience necessary to fit them to pass upon the sanitary questions 
that arise in considering the light and ventilation of a new tenement 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 31 

house. The testimony of the Building Commissioners that the pres- 
ent laws were adequate and that the present type of air shaft was 
entirely sufficient in size, notwithstanding the testimony of every 
other witness who appeared before the Commission that the air shaft 
was a most serious evil and of no benefit, indicates this conclusively. 
One of the important bureaus in a Tenement House Department, there- 
fore, will be a new-building Bureau, which will be charged with the 
duty of examining the plans for all new tenement houses and seeing 
that they conform to the laws in regard to light and ventilation. In 
the bill submitted by the Commission it is provided that the owner 
of every tenement house, after submitting his plans to the Tenement 
House Commissioner, shall receive from the Commissioner a certifi- 
cate that the plans conform to the tenement house laws in regard to 
light and ventilation of the building, if upon examination they are 
found to do so ; and it is further provided that until such a certifi- 
cate has been filed in the Department of Buildings, the Commis- 
sioner of Buildings shall not grant a permit for the construction of 
the tenement house. 

The Commission has sought to develop this idea of granting cer- 
tificates to a still greater degree and has provided that, before a new 
tenement house may be occupied, the Tenement House Commis- 
sioner shall cause an examination of the building to be made, to de- 
termine whether it complies with the tenement house laws ; and that 
if the building does not so comply, it shall not be used or occupied 
as a tenement house until it is made to conform to the requirements 
of the statute. If, on the other hand, it is found to comply with the 
laws, then a written certificate shall be issued to the owner of the 
building to that effect. There are many reasons why such a recom- 
mendation has been made by the Commission. In the first place, 
the Commission finds that the present system of administering the 
building laws fails to check violations of the law, the report of the 
Commissioner of Buildings showing that some twenty-four thousand 
violations have been filed in one year. This is not preventing vio- 
lations. It was brought out, in the testimony taken by the Commis- 
sion, that it was customary in the Department of Buildings to send 
a series of notices to the owner or architect of the building, inform- 
ing him that violations of the law had been committed and threaten- 
ing legal proceedings ; and it appears that in the great majority of 
cases this series of notices and letters was apt to drag on anywhere 
from two to six months before an actual proceeding was begun in 
court. By that time the tenement house had been completed and 
usually sold to some innocent purchaser, with all the violations of 
law still in the building. As these violations in most cases cannot 
be remedied after the building is completed without radically recon- 



32 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

structing it, and in some cases without tearing it down, it is of 
course apparent that the violations in many cases are not remedied. 
A more serious consequence, however, is that the building laws are 
not feared by the builder. He naturally feels that he can violate 
them with impunity because he is not punished, as he knows that he 
can complete his building and sell it before any legal proceedings 
are commenced. As such proceedings are always taken against the 
owner of the property, it is of no importance to the builder whether 
the new owner is sued or not after he, the builder, has disposed of 
his house. 

The law prescribes specific penalties of $50 for each violation of 
the building law, and a further penalty of $250 for every such viola- 
tion which is not removed within ten days. The Assistant Corpora- 
tion Counsel testified before the Commission that, although about 
eleven thousand violations of the building law had been filed in the 
Boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx, these penalties were col- 
lected in only four cases. 

The requirement, therefore, that no tenement house should be 
occupied for living purposes until a certificate for its completion in 
compliance with the law be issued, will not only enforce obedience 
to law in the simplest manner, but will do away with the present 
cumbersome system of threatening prosecution and the dragging on 
of long legal proceedings in civil actions. Such a provision will also 
be of great value to investors in tenement house property, and will 
be a great protection to guarantee and trust companies and to insur- 
ance companies and other fiduciary institutions investing their capi- 
tal in buildings of this class. 

The Commission is convinced, that if this plan is adopted, in a 
very short time it will become customary for no financial institution 
to make a loan upon such property unless the builder can exhibit a 
certificate that the building complies with the tenement house laws. 
It is also the right of a builder who has sought to comply with the 
law and who has done so, to know once for all whether his building 
complies with the law ; otherwise, he may be persecuted by having 
petty violations served upon him after the building is finished. In 
many cases such things occur and are a source of great injustice to 
the honest builder. We find that such a system of granting certifi- 
cates is now carried on by the great majority of architects, it being 
the custom for the owner not to make payments to the builder ex- 
cept upon a certificate from the architect that the work has been 
done properly. We find also that the building laws in Philadelphia 
and in Chicago prescribe an exactly similar method of procedure in 
regard to the construction of fire-escapes, and that the laws in Glas- 
gow and Edinburgh require that no new dwelling house shall be 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 33 

occupied until a certificate has been issued by the proper authority 
that it conforms to the law. This recommendation has been urged 
upon the Commission by the Assistant Corporation Counsel, who also 
suggested the additional requirement that the Commissioner of 
Water Supply should not permit water to be turned on in a new 
tenement house until such a certificate had been issued. 

It may seem, at first thought, that the jurisdiction of such a 
Tenement House Department in relation to new buildings might 
overlap or interfere with the jurisdiction of the Building Depart- 
ment in respect to such houses. This, however, is not the case, as 
the laws in relation to light and ventilation apply only to tenement 
and lodging houses and not to other kinds of buildings. The exami- 
nation of the structural parts of the building will still be under the 
Department of Buildings, and it will be only those special require- 
ments which apply to tenement houses and not to other buildings 
that will be enforced by the Tenement House Department. 

The work of the new Tenement House Department will, however, 
relate mainly to the sanitary supervision of existing tenements. 
This, of course, will necessitate the creation in such a department of 
a Sanitary Inspection Bureau. To be effective, this bureau should 
be of a size sufficient to inspect every tenement house in the city at 
least once a month. The Commission has made an estimate of the 
number of blocks in the distinctively tenement districts of the city, 
and finds that on the Island of Manhattan there are about twelve 
hundred such blocks. It also finds that an ordinary inspector could 
make a complete and thorough inspection of every tenement house 
from cellar to roof at least once a month, provided he- had a district 
assigned to him of about twelve blocks, and that undoubtedly after 
such work of inspection had been carried on for a while it would be 
possible to give to the inspector a larger district. This would mean, 
therefore, that it would be necessary to have a force of about 
100 inspectors for the Island of Manhattan, and for the whole city of 
Greater New York the Commission has estimated that a force of about 
190 inspectors would be necessary to adequately perform this work. 

This does not mean 190 additional city employees. That 
there should be more inspectors in such a new Department to 
adequately fulfil its duties than are now engaged in tenement 
house inspection in the Building and Health Departments, is 
apparent, but except to this extent the inspectors in the new Ten- 
ement House Department would only take the place of those now 
employed in other city departments for tenement house supervision, 
and whose services in these other departments would no longer 
be necessary. 

In the organization of such a department or bureau, it would be 



34 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

desirable to have some system of checking the work of the inspectors 
by means of special inspectors, who act somewhat in the nature 
of roundsmen in the Police Department. Such a system is now in 
vogue in the Building Department, and is found to work admirably. 
It would also be desirable to have a number of inspectors to make 
night inspections, so as to prevent overcrowding in tenement houses, 
this being the only way that this evil can be dealt with. The num- 
ber of inspectors provided for in the recommendations of the Com- 
mission includes all of these. Some of these inspectors might be 
women. The duty of the Sanitary Inspection Bureau would be to 
inspect all the lower grade of tenement houses in the city at least 
once a month. Such an examination should concern itself, not simply 
with the first floor of the building, as is often the case now, but 
should include the cellars, roofs, halls, yards, water-closets, plumbing, 
and all other parts of the building. With a corps of inspectors of 
this kind under proper administration, we believe that a complete 
transformation would be effected in New York's tenement houses, 
that the present dark halls would be kept lighted, that buildings 
would be adequately supplied with water and kept clean, and that 
there would be very soon almost no sanitary abuses. The problem 
is purely one of adequate inspection. Besides the sanitary inspec- 
tion of tenement houses, to see that they are maintained in proper 
condition, the duty would also devolve upon this bureau of seeing 
that certain dangerous trades in tenement houses are kept within 
proper restrictions ; by this we refer to bakeries, paint shops, and 
similar stores in buildings of this kind. This duty at present 
devolves upon the Fire Department, and this department would 
therefore be relieved from this duty. It would also devolve upon 
the Sanitary Inspection Bureau to make a thorough sanitary exami- 
nation of the tenement houses in the city, for the purpose of ascer- 
taining what buildings are unfit for human habitation, and it would 
be the duty of the Tenement House Commissioner, either to see that 
these buildings were vacated or were put in proper condition. There 
are many such buildings in the city at the present time. In some, 
slight alterations would make the buildings habitable ; in others, 
more extensive alterations would be needed ; and in still others, the 
buildings should either be permanently vacated or torn down. At 
present, these duties devolve upon the Department of Health. In 
1896, about a hundred such buildings were condemned by that 
Department, and many of them were torn down and others per- 
manently vacated, while still others were altered so as to be fit for 
habitation. The Commission finds, however, that this work has 
practically stopped since 1896, although the Department of Health 
has full power to proceed with it. 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 35 

In addition to these two bureaus, it is very desirable that there 
should be a Bureau of Records in the Tenement House Department, 
which should keep the records of every tenement house in such man- 
ner and form as would enable the Tenement House Commissioner to 
know, at any time, all the facts in reference to any one tenement 
house. Previous Tenement House Commissions have been much 
impressed with the importance of having such statistics available, and 
have sought to accomplish this. As a direct result of the recommen- 
dations of one of these Commissions, a Registrar of Statistics was 
appointed in the Department of Health, for the purpose of keeping 
these statistics of tenement houses. Most of his time, however, is 
taken up with the keeping of the vital statistics of the city, and the 
registry of births, marriages, and deaths. This, of course, does not 
meet in any way the purpose sought to be accomplished. What is 
needed is some system of keeping the records of every tenement 
house so that all the facts in connection with that house may be seen 
at a glance. It seems to the Commission desirable, therefore, to 
adopt some system of keeping records, which would show a diagram 
of each tenement house, with the shape of the building, its width 
and depth, also the measurements of the unoccupied area, showing 
the shafts, courts, and yards. This diagram should include a plan 
of the second or typical floor of the building, giving the size and 
arrangement of the rooms, with all doors, stairs, windows, halls, 
and partitions. Such record should also contain a statement of 
the date or approximate date when the building was erected ; also 
the total deaths in each building during each year should be re- 
corded, as well as the annual death-rate of the building, and in such 
statement the deaths of adults and children should be differentiated. 
Where these deaths were caused by a contagious disease, a statement 
should be made to this effect and the nature of the disease indicated. 
Similarly, all cases of sickness occurring in each tenement house 
should be recorded. In addition to these records, it would seem to 
the Commission also to be of value to have on file the records of the 
number of applications for charitable relief from each tenement 
house. Undoubtedly the leading charitable societies of the city 
would be willing to furnish such information. It would also be im- 
portant to have from the Police Department a record of the number 
of arrests which have been made from each tenement house and the 
age of the person arrested. If such a system were adopted, it would 
soon be known what buildings in the city were having a bad effect 
upon the health, morals, and industrial well-being of the community. 

The Commission finds that there are a number of houses in the 
city which are permanently infected with tuberculosis, and that 
families moving into such houses without knowing these facts have 



36 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

become infected with this dread disease. Dr. Biggs, of the Depart- 
ment of Health, has shown in the special report which he has written 
for the Commission and which forms part of this report, that in one 
part of the city, in one block, there are at least three tenement houses 
in which have occurred twenty-two cases of tuberculosis in each 
house within the past five years. While the collection of these sta- 
tistics would be justified because of the scientific interest of the in- 
formation obtained, it is not for such reason that the Commission 
urges the adoption of such a plan. It is because they believe that it 
is essential for the Tenement House Commissioner to have such data, 
if he is to intelligently administer the tenement house laws, and that 
if such data were available there would be no question what tenement 
houses should be most guarded by frequent inspection and what 
buildings should be vacated. 

In providing for the organization of this department, the Ten- 
ement House Commission, in making its recommendations, has 
followed along the lines of previous legislation upon this subject, 
and has, in nearly every case, adopted the present provisions of the 
Charter in regard to the organization of the Department of Health, 
giving to the Tenement House Department powers similar to those 
now enjoyed by the latter. In no case do the powers given to the 
Tenement House Department exceed the powers now vested in the 
Department of Health, but on the contrary are not so great. It is 
to be borne in mind that in no way are the present powers of the 
Department of Health, in regard to the general health of the com- 
munity, interfered with in the slightest degree. The Commission 
believes that it is absolutely essential that the Department of Health 
should retain all its present powers. It has, however, transferred to 
the Tenement House Department certain duties now imposed upon 
the Department of Health. Such duties are solely the duties of the 
inspection of tenement houses. While a transfer of such work will 
probably mean that a number of the present employees of the Health 
Department will be available for other work, the Commission has not 
thought it necessary to provide in detail for the working out of the 
transfer of these men, but believes that such matters had better be 
left for future adjustment. 

In considering all these matters, it is important to consider, not 
only the present needs of the city, but the future needs as well. If 
the development which has taken place in the Borough of the Bronx 
in the last five years, whereby a suburban or semi-suburban district 
has been transformed into an overcrowded tenement district, is any 
criterion of the future development of the city, no time can be lost 
in putting into operation an adequate method of properly supervising 
the city's tenement houses. 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 37 

DEFINITION OF A TENEMENT HOUSE 

A tenement house as defined by law is "Any house occupied 
as the home or residence of three families or more, living inde- 
pendently of each other, and doing their cooking upon the premises." 
This definition includes those houses which are popularly called ten- 
ements, as well as those which are popularly called " flats " or " apart- 
ment houses. " Precisely how many of the two and one-quarter million 
people who constitute the tenement house population of New York 
live in the houses which would be popularly called tenements can- 
not be stated with absolute accuracy, because the question involves 
some determination of the dividing line between "tenements," 
"flats," and "apartment houses," which no one has ever been able 
as yet to satisfactorily draw. If the line is to be drawn between 
those houses which in their construction and maintenance require 
regulation for the protection of their inmates and those which will 
be properly built and maintained from motives of self-interest with- 
out regard to legal regulations, it is certain that more than two 
million people that is, more than half the entire population of New 
York are dependent upon the existence and enforcement of a proper 
tenement house law for their health, protection against fire, and social 
environment. It has been suggested to the Commission that they 
should distinguish between the tenement and the apartment house, 
and confine the operation of the tenement house laws to the former. 
All who have made this suggestion have been asked, What regula- 
tions for lighting, ventilation, fire protection, and sanitation should 
be required by law for the protection of the dweller in an East Side 
tenement, which should not equally be required for those who live 
in West Side apartments, or, even if not required, would not be 
complied with from motives of enlightened self-interest by every 
intelligent owner of a first-class apartment house ? No such regula- 
tion has been pointed out, nor has any member of the Commission 
been able to suggest any. On the other hand, more than twenty 
officials of the Board of Health strongly recommended that no 
change in the law be made for the reason that there could be no 
distinction which would not result in evasion of law, and that the 
only effect of such a distinction would be to give concessions to the 
larger apartment houses which would be objectionable from sanitary 
reasons. If, therefore, there is no regulation appropriate to the 
"cheapest tenement" which is not equally appropriate to the most 
expensive " apartment house," and which, indeed, would not be com- 
plied with in the latter case by far-sighted owners, whether such 
regulation were or were not required by law, there is no reason to 
draw a distinction which since the first enactment of a tenement 



38 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

house law in New York has been found unnecessary and impracti- 
cable, and which, if drawn, would make one set of laws for the rich 
and another for the poor, a class distinction obnoxious to the demo- 
cratic policy of our State. 

DISCRETIONARY POWER TO CITY DEPARTMENTS 

In several important parts of the present tenement house laws, 
discretion is left to different city officials to modify their require- 
ments. Theoretically, such a principle has certain advantages, 
because it would seem to enable discretion to be exercised to effect 
the purpose of the law under varying conditions, for all of which it 
might be difficult to make precise provision. In practice, however, 
city officials have been put in the difficult position of either refusing 
to exercise discretion plainly conferred upon them by law, and 
thereby exposing themselves to the charge of unjust discrimination, 
or of exercising that discretion in practically every instance. They 
have usually chosen the latter alternative, so that in almost every 
case that has been done which the extreme degree of discretion 
would permit. For example, the law which limits to 65 per cent 
the area of lot to be occupied by any tenement house hereafter 
to be constructed or altered gives discretion to the Commissioner of 
Buildings " where the light and ventilation of such tenement house 
is materially improved " to permit it to occupy an additional area 
not exceeding 75 per cent, and this permission has been given 
in ninety-nine out of a hundred of all the new tenement houses 
inspected by the Commission. Discretionary power under such 
circumstances results in failure to accomplish the very purpose 
of the law, and is almost always a source of difficulty and embarrass- 
ment to city officials, who, however desirous of carrying out the 
spirit of the law, sometimes find themselves exposed to influences 
which they cannot easily resist. Moreover, such discretion in the 
hands of unworthy officials will often lead to injustice and discrim- 
ination. For these reasons the Commission has sought to eliminate 
discretionary power from the proposed code, so far as possible, in the 
interest alike of the general public and of good city government; 

FINANCIAL SIDE OF THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

Probably no subject has been more carefully reviewed by the 
Commission than the practicability of the legislation proposed, and 
its effect on property interests. In the many discussions had by the 
Commission, it is safe to say that the point of view of the tenement 
house owner has been considered quite as much as the point of view 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 39 

of the tenant, and properly so, for though the interests of landlord 
and tenant, superficially considered, may seem to be divergent, in 
the ultimate analysis they are identical. The Commission presents 
with this report two special papers upon this subject, one dealing 
with the question of rentals and returns upon tenement house prop- 
erty, both of the ordinary kind and also of improved tenements ; the 
other treating the phases of the problem involved in the ordinary 
methods of building tenement houses upon building loans as a 
speculation. 

The report of the first Tenement House Commission of 1856 and 
other early reports on this subject are replete with accusations against 
the greed of landlords, and the profits on tenement house property 
are stated in these reports at figures which now seem almost fabu- 
lous. Undoubtedly, at those times the demand for tenement house 
accommodation was in excess of the supply, partly incidental to the 
extraordinary increase of immigration. At the present time the 
amount of accommodation is fairly in advance of the demand, and 
indeed the investigations of the Commission show that over 9 per 
cent of the room accommodation in tenement houses is vacant. So 
many varying circumstances affect the rental of the new tenement 
house that it is very difficult to determine the average net returns 
now received from such investments. The new house, which either 
needs or has but small expenditure for repairs, and is under efficient 
management, may produce a large net income, while the same house 
built a few years ago in which many repairs have already become 
necessary and which has inefficient management, may produce but 
little. The figures in every case would be misleading from the point 
of view of permanent investment. 

Dr. Elgin R. L. Gould, in the special report on this subject, 
which follows this general report, concludes that the average net 
return on the ordinary class of tenements now being erected, with- 
out any mortgage placed upon the property, is 5.81 per cent, and 
that when a mortgage is placed upon the property, for about 60 per 
cent of its entire cost, that the average net profit on such property 
is 7.03 per cent. 

The Commission finds that substantial profits are realized in 
speculative operations, not only by the building loan operator, but 
also by the speculative builder, before the tenement house has been 
purchased by the ultimate investor, and that this system of middle- 
men tends, as in other industries, to increase the cost to the consumer, 
who is in this case the tenant. The Commission has not thought it 
practicable to recommend any specific legislation upon this subject, 
but is of the opinion that the plan of granting certificates to the 



40 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

owners of new tenement houses will tend to remedy some abuses in 
construction which now exist. The Commission would also call 
attention to the evils resulting from the inferior grade of workman- 
ship employed in many tenement houses. In the ordinary tenement 
house the Commission finds that the work is generally of a low 
grade, and that such property is apt to deteriorate in a very short 
time. The result is not only a loss to the investor, but a loss to the 
tenement dweller. It means discomfort, and also means that he 
must pay higher rents to meet the increasing bills for repairs which 
each year grow greater. 

This report has so far been devoted to the main evils of tenement 
houses due to faulty construction and lack of proper supervision. 
There are, however, other phases of the tenement house problem 
which are of vital moment to the welfare of the community and 
which deserve serious consideration. For some of these we have 
deemed it our duty to recommend legislation. In regard to others, 
while we appreciate the necessity for a change in the existing condi- 
tions, and mention them in this report, we have not deemed it within 
our duties to make specific recommendations. 

There are also many suggestions which have been carefully con- 
sidered by the Commission, among which are several which call for 
special mention. 

THE TWENTY-FIVE FOOT LOT 

One suggestion, which has been pressed with great force, is that 
the building of a new tenement on a 25-foot lot should be forbidden. 
There is no question but that the ordinary lot, 25 feet by 100 feet, 
is a very disadvantageous plot on which to erect a well-lighted and 
well-ventilated tenement house, not so much by reason of its narrow 
frontage as by reason of its great depth as compared with the front- 
age. There is, moreover, no question but that the kind of tenement 
which from commercial reasons is now being and for a long time has 
been built on this lot unit lacks adequate light and air. If by any 
legislative act the dimensions of this lot unit could be altered, this 
Commission would unhesitatingly so recommend. The Commission 
believes, however, that the new tenement house which can be erected 
on a 25-foot lot, under the proposed code, while necessarily inferior 
in light and air to one built upon a larger lot area, is sanitary and 
should not be prohibited. The 25-foot tenement will undoubtedly 
gradually give place to a type of greater frontage. The advantage 
and economy, both in construction and operation, of the tenement 
on a larger area are already producing such a change. An examina- 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 41 

tion of the plans filed in the Building Department for new tenement 
houses for the first quarter of the year 1900 shows that in 61 per 
cent of the cases the owners had a larger width of lot than 25 
feet to build upon, and therefore could, if they had so desired, have 
adopted a larger unit. 

The same economic causes which have already abolished the 
small lot from many business sections of the city, which have been 
rebuilt, will be equally operative as old tenements are torn down. 

LICENSING OF TENEMENT HOUSES 

A subject which has had careful consideration by the Commission 
has been a plan for the licensing of tenement houses. This plan 
was brought to the attention of the Commission at the very begin- 
ning of its work and has been urged by a number of people. The 
idea was first publicly suggested in 1879, and was contained in the 
proposed amendment of the tenement house act of that year. That 
part of the act, however, was not enacted. The purpose of a licens- 
ing system for tenement houses is twofold. First, as a means of 
securing the strict sanitary control of such buildings, and, secondly, 
of securing sufficient revenue to support an adequate department to 
properly inspect the tenement houses of the city. A plan was pre- 
sented to the Commission that they should include such a provision in 
their bill for a new Tenement House Department, it being suggested 
that in addition to the certificate to be granted by the Tenement 
House Commissioner upon the completion of a new tenement house, 
there should also be adopted a system of granting annual certificates 
to owners of all tenement houses to the effect that their buildings 
complied with the tenement house laws, and forbidding the occupa- 
tion of any tenement which had not received such a certificate. 
This recommendation also carried with it a scheme for a system of 
fees to be charged for the granting of such certificates varying from 
$5 to $10, depending upon the number of families accommodated in 
the different buildings. These fees were so small that they could 
hardly have been appreciably felt by the owner of a tenement house, 
or distributed on the tenants in the form of rent, but they would, 
however, have provided sufficient revenue for the support of the 
Tenement House Department. It appears that lodging houses at 
present are licensed by the Board of Health, and that a system of 
licensing has been carried out to a large extent, not only in this 
State, but in other States and countries, affecting a great variety of 
occupations. The Commission finds that in Chicago, for instance, 
builders and architects are licensed, while in this State plumbers, 
physicians, and a great variety of other occupations' are licensed. 



42 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

While the Commission inclines to believe that such a plan has many 
advantages, it has not deemed it wise to recommend that it be put 
in force without further deliberation, and at least until after a new 
Tenement House Department has been organized and its machinery 
has been set in motion. 

TENEMENT HOUSE LIMITS 

Among the suggestions which have been made to the Commission 
was one that a law should be passed establishing tenement house 
limits, similar to the present fire limits of the city, so that after a 
certain date no tenement house should be allowed to be built outside 
of such limits. This recommendation was made with the purpose of 
safeguarding the outlying sections of the city from the evils that 
exist in the lower portions. 

The enactment of such a law, however, involves many varied 
questions, to which the Commission has not been able to give 
sufficient consideration to warrant it at this time in making any 
recommendations. 

THE BRONX 

If there be any district of the city where it would seem that the 
need for tenement limits were greatest, it is the Borough of the 
Bronx. This borough seems to be the natural residence portion of 
Greater New York, particularly for those who cannot afford to live 
expensively, and who wish to enjoy suburban life. Until lately it 
has consisted of many small settlements, some of which have had, 
until annexed to New York, local governments of their own, and 
have been occupied usually by people of moderate means who built 
plain, small houses, usually detached, on their land. The streets 
were generally country roads, and the life led there was rural. 
Since annexation the city has changed the character of the streets 
or roads of this district, and now they are generally sewered and 
asphalted or paved, and have police and fire protection. Within 
three or four years the electric street railroads have been intro- 
duced, and now they extend all over the district, with many more to 
be built, and all concentrating either at Third Avenue and One Hun- 
dred and Twenty-ninth Street or at Macomb's Dam Bridge. These 
railroads, with the opening and improving of the streets, have been 
the cause of the great growth of this borough within the past few 
years. This growth can be said to be principally confined to the 
lower and centre line of travel, that is, near or within reach of Third 
Avenue. 

The growth of this borough within the past few years has been 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 43 

unprecedented, the population having increased from 74,085 in 1890 
to 200,507 in 1900. 

The number of tenement houses in the Bronx is to-day 4365 
and the tenement house population 106,027. 

The new buildings built especially at the lower end consist mostly 
of four or five story brick tenements, built generally in groups of 
from three to twenty. They have in some cases four families on a 
floor, and are like the ordinary cheap flats which are so numerous in 
Harlem. There were about seven hundred of these tenements built 
in this district in 1899, and it is probable that in a very short time 
there will be more than a thousand of them erected each year in the 
Borough of the Bronx. It seems to be a fact, when tenements of 
this kind are built in a street, which until then had been occupied by 
small single or two-family houses, that the occupants of these small 
houses are driven out ; then the property becomes vacant and de- 
preciates in value, and when sold the small dwellings are torn down 
and flats are built in their place, thus transforming a street that was 
once quiet and sunny into one which is busy and dark, and bringing 
into it a class of tenants which is not desirable. This change of 
occupancy is very marked, and if allowed to go on unchecked, will 
cause in a few years the whole of the lower part of the Borough 
of the Bronx to be covered with cheap flats, housing a floating 
population and injuring the sanitary and moral conditions of the 
borough. 

SMALL HOUSES 

In the study of the tenement house problem, the Commission 
has had in mind always the future development of New York City, 
as well as the present needs. The Commission has, therefore, caused 
an investigation to be made as to the possibilities of small houses in 
the suburbs of New York, to accommodate the working people of 
the city. A special report on this subject has been made and forms 
part of the report of the Commission. The conditions in Brooklyn, 
in Queens, in the Bronx, and in Richmond have been carefully 
studied, both as to present development and future possibilities. 
The experience also of Philadelphia, which is notably a city of 
homes, has been used as a guide, and the conditions there have been 
personally studied. The Commission had hoped that it might be 
possible to do away with the tenement house in New York in the 
future, and that the greater city might develop along the lines that 
Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Chicago have followed. The results of 
this study of the suburban conditions of the present time do not, 
however, hold out any hope to the Commission that the tenement 
house system will in the near future be abolished. Even with the 



44 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

great improvement that is soon to come in this city in the way of 
rapid transit, and by the development of tunnels and bridges, the 
conditions will remain the same because of proportionate increase 
of the city's population. 

MUNICIPAL TENEMENTS 

Still another suggestion was that New York, following in this 
respect the example of some cities in Great Britain, should build 
model tenements for its people at public expense. The Commission 
is not prepared to recommend such an enlargement of municipal 
functions. No good purpose could be thereby served. At most 
such public buildings would better the living conditions of a favored 
few, who had sufficient influence to secure apartments in them, and 
even these would better their living conditions at the sacrifice of 
self-dependence. If such model tenements are intended to set an 
example and to demonstrate what can be done to provide better 
housing conditions, they will furnish no better demonstration than 
private benevolence has furnished in the past and can be relied upon 
to furnish in the future. If they are intended to house the working 
people, they can at most house only a very small proportion, and by 
so housing this small proportion they will prevent the greater num- 
ber from being effectively housed by other means, for private enter- 
prise will not compete with municipal bounty, and when cities begin 
to build tenements other tenement building will cease. No large 
city can provide homes for all its working people. So vast a project 
could not be seriously contemplated. If by providing for a few it 
prevented provision for the many, the average condition of the work- 
ing classes would be worse than before the city began to build. Nor 
would there be any limit to the scope of municipal building opera- 
tions if once they were begun. If cities, however, are to become 
landlords at all, where should the wage line be drawn between those 
for whom they should and those for whom they should not provide ? 
Where, in practice, would the line be drawn in American cities where 
democracy reigns supreme, and the limit of public bounty would be 
ultimately fixed by popular vote ? Even if municipal building did 
not stop private enterprise, and the municipal buildings were man- 
aged without favoritism or those evils which too often attend gov- 
ernment ownership, other objections would still exist. Tenement 
house management is largely a question of good housekeeping and 
prompt business method, involving wide discretion and full power. 
The average city official would not be likely to be a good house- 
keeper ; nor, even if he were able to forget that he owed his place 
in some degree at least to those whom he was aiding his city to 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 45 

house, could he use prompt business methods and exercise individual 
discretion under the necessarily cumbrous and mechanical methods 
of government system. The municipal tenement would inevitably 
be forced to the wall in competition with similar buildings under pri- 
vate ownership. Its rooms would be frequently vacant or its rents 
would be lowered to hold tenants, and it would become, more than 
before, an increasing burden to the taxpayer, without any correspond- 
ing good to the working classes. Moreover, such buildings would 
introduce a new element into public service, already sufficiently com- 
plex, and add so many more to the already large number of govern- 
ment servants. If tenanted with a view to votes, they might be so 
located and utilized by the political party in power as to perpetuate 
its control. 



TAX EXEMPTION FOR MODEL TENEMENTS 

Another suggestion was that the building of model tenements 
which conformed to certain specified requirements of plan should 
be encouraged by making them, wholly or partly, exempt from taxa- 
tion, either perpetually or for a term of years. If municipal aid is 
to be extended at all to tenement house building, this would be more 
effective and open to less objection than any other method. It would 
be more effective because it would probably insure the building of 
more tenements than could be erected under municipal ownership. 
It would be less objectionable because this increased accommodation 
for the working classes could be thus obtained at less expense to the 
city. However large a decrease in the tax revenue of the city would 
be thereby effected, it would undoubtedly be less than- the increased 
tax burden which would follow municipal building and municipal 
management of such buildings. The Commission, however, is not 
ready to recommend any such change in the present system of taxa- 
tion. It would be a distinct departure from our present public 
policy, which taxes alike all real estate used for business or private 
purposes. It would diminish tax revenue. It would change property 
values by artificially decreasing the value of the improved tenement 
completed this year, and artificially increasing the value of the same 
tenement built next year. It would immediately increase the income 
of the property owners whose new tenements were exempted from 
tax burdens, and would only remotely decrease the rents of the wage- 
earners, in whose interests it was adopted, for until the increase in 
tenement accommodation became very marked it is not likely that 
rent rates would be diminished. It would involve drawing some 
line between tenements for the poorer classes which were to be en- 
couraged by exemption, and other tenements not intended to be so 



46 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

exempt. Drawing such a line would be extremely difficult, how- 
ever it were to be drawn, whether on the number of rooms to the 
apartment, or the size of the rooms, or otherwise. The exemption 
would be likely to be abused, and be claimed by those who were not 
intended to share in these benefits. 

It seems to us proper, however, to point out that the construc- 
tion of improved dwellings for the laboring classes on any large 
scale is far more likely to depend on the efforts of corporations than 
of individuals, and that the present statutes regarding taxation 
restrain the efforts of corporations in this direction. Individual 
investors may erect tenement houses and pay simply the tax on real 
estate, but corporations making precisely the same investment must 
pay the annual tax on their capital stock in addition to the same tax 
on the real estate. The experience of London and many other large 
cities besides New York proves that the construction of improved 
dwellings for working people on any such scale as may respond in 
fair degree to the needs of a great city is certain to depend mostly 
on the efforts of corporations, because individuals shrink from under- 
takings which involve a large expenditure of money, a large respon- 
sibility for administration, and the necessity of a close supervision 
with the prospect of only a modest return on the investment. 

The State would lose nothing by relieving the capital stock of 
companies whose sole object is to erect improved dwellings from 
annual taxation on their stock, because all such corporations can, 
and we believe do now, avoid the extra taxation by incurring mort- 
gage indebtedness ; but this proceeding repels many conservative 
philanthropic investors. Thus, while the State gains nothing, the 
movement for the construction of improved dwellings for working 
people is retarded under the present laws. Such legislation as would 
place corporations whose sole investment is in real estate on the 
same basis as individual property owners by relieving them from 
annual taxation on their stock, would be equitable and would stimu- 
late the construction of improved dwellings for the laboring classes. 

This question, however, relates rather to the general policy of 
the State respecting taxation than to the special sphere of this 
Commission. 



HOW THE CITY CAN AND SHOULD AID TENEMENT HOUSE 

DWELLERS 

There are expenditures clearly within the sphere of municipal 
action which the city can and should make for the benefit of its 
tenement house population. 

The streets in tenement districts should be paved with asphalt 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 47 

or other smooth pavement so that they can be more readily kept 
clean. This is especially desirable in the crowded tenement parts 
of the city, where the street is constantly used by so large a part of 
the population, and particularly by the children. It is far more im- 
portant there than in other residential districts. Gratifying prog- 
ress in this direction has been made in the tenement house quarters 
of New York. These streets should be kept clean, and garbage and 
ashes should be promptly removed. Prompt and complete perform- 
ance of these municipal duties is nowhere more important than 
among the tenements. The standard of street cleaning has been 
notably raised within recent years. 

The streets should be well lighted. In this direction, too, there 
has been improvement. There should be more public conveniences 
and lavatories. There should be more small parks and playgrounds. 
There should be public bathing facilities. 

Within these spheres there is ample scope for municipal activity 
and expenditure, and it is within these spheres that such activity 
and expenditure can accomplish the greatest good for the greatest 
number. 

BATHS 

It has been difficult to decide whether or not to recommend the 
compulsory introduction of bathing facilities into all new tenement 
houses. While all the Commissioners believe that such bathing 
facilities should be afforded to the tenement dweller, many of them 
think it questionable whether at the present time this should be 
made compulsory by legislation. It would be manifestly unwise to 
compel the providing of a private bath for each set of rooms. The 
only alternative would be the providing of common baths to be used 
by a number of families in some part of the building. This does 
not commend itself to the judgment of the Commission. Tenement 
dwellers say that these baths would rarely be kept clean, and that 
they would be loath to use them. Moreover, the Commission finds 
that ordinary commercial considerations are likely to settle this 
question in the near future. Out of 311 of the new tenement houses 
which were inspected in the Borough of Manhattan, 125 buildings, 
or 40 per cent of all, had a private bath for each apartment, and in 
Brooklyn the percentage was even greater. While natural causes 
will probably care for tenement houses to be erected in the future, 
the need of bathing facilities in the existing tenement houses is very 
great. New York is far behind many of the smaller cities of this 
country in providing public baths for its people. A special report 
has been prepared upon this subject, showing the special needs of 
New York, and also what has been done in other American cities 



48 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

along these lines. The Commission would urge that steps be taken 
for the establishment of a number of public baths in the tenement 
districts of the city. 

RECREATION GROUNDS, PARKS, AND PIERS 

In the growth of the city too little thought has been given to the 
necessity of steadily increasing the number of parks in proportion 
to the increase of the population and its extension over new territory. 
The failure on the part of our public authorities to make such pro- 
vision has left large tracts of our city without any open air centres 
for recreation. 

In the recent movements to secure open spaces for the health 
and enjoyment of the people the old park idea has been gradually 
altered, and in its place has risen a strong desire for recreation 
grounds, open air gymnasiums, spaces for games and exercises, and 
stands where open air concerts might be supplied to the public. The 
old park, with trees and flowers, possessed many attractions which 
should not be wholly sacrificed, but its formidable sign, " Keep off 
the Grass," and its iron railings diminished its value as a place of 
recreation. This loss was greater as the city increased in size, and 
vacant lots that had served as playgrounds were taken for building 
purposes. The modern recreation grounds, over which all may 
roam without fear of arrest, fulfil the needs and desires of a 
greater part of our population in our crowded districts. Such 
grounds, when wisely planned, contain one section for games, ex- 
ercises, and sports, and another for the use of mothers with young 
children and for those who may wish to sit quietly in the open air. 
In this latter section music stands have often been provided. Al- 
ready these playgrounds, in several instances, have been supplied at 
private expense with gymnastic equipment and with teachers. These 
private enterprises have adequately demonstrated the value of such 
provision for the public welfare. But it seems hardly creditable to 
the city that the city itself should not bear the expense of adequately 
maintaining and protecting these grounds. 

The Commission recommends the enactment of a law giving the 
city the power to make annual expenditures for the extension of its 
system of recreation grounds and parks. Such a law, limited, how- 
ever, in its operation to two new parks, was passed on the recom- 
mendation of the Commission of 1894. 

It has been suggested that a park in a crowded district could be 
obtained at comparatively small expense by taking only the interior 
of a block and permitting the erection of model tenements upon the 
two exterior strips abutting on the streets. This suggestion has 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 49 

been embodied in a special paper, which forms part of this report. 
The suggestion seems to the Commission to be an admirable one. 
By its adoption the city would be enabled to obtain needed small 
parks and recreation grounds at comparatively small expense, and 
new tenements could be constructed to accommodate, at remunera- 
tive rents, quite as many people as are now inadequately housed by 
old tenements on the same. area. 

The recreation piers have also proved to be a means of healthful 
enjoyment for many. In some few instances it has been called to 
our attention that these piers have become resorts of the disorderly 
to such an extent that careful parents would not allow their children 
to visit them. This fact, we believe, emphasizes the importance of 
having careful and intelligent caretakers. Without such caretakers 
the recreation pier is apt to become disorderly through the action, 
we believe, not of the majority of those who use the piers, but of a 
small minority. We believe, therefore, that greater emphasis should 
be placed upon their management, as their essential value is deter- 
mined by the presence or absence of such superintendence. 

SCHOOLS 

While not making specific recommendations, the Commission 
desires to call attention to the great benefits that have resulted 
to tenement house dwellers from the gradual opening of the 
public schools for various uses outside of school hours. We note 
the establishment of public lectures, of evening classes, and of vaca- 
tion schools, the opening of the school grounds for the use of the 
children under competent supervision during the summer months, 
the meeting of boys' and girls' clubs in school buildings during the 
evening, and the establishment of reading-rooms supplied with 
papers and books for the use of persons of all ages. These steps 
of progress indicate that the Board of Education recognizes the 
wide responsibility resting upon the department of education to 
maintain a broad view of its opportunities and obligations. These 
various agencies appear to the Commission to have a proper relation 
to the work of public education and have certainly contributed to 
the health, welfare, and intelligence of the laboring people. We 
therefore record our belief that what has already been done has been 
of great value, and recommend the further extension of these uses of 
school property. 

The Commission believes that the schools may properly become 
the centre of much of the thoughtful life of the community in which 
they are located, and that to extend the use of school buildings in 
the evening under proper restrictions, to literary societies, benefit 



VOL. I E 



50 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

associations, and other bodies having a serious purpose, would pro- 
mote intelligence and social progress among our tenement house 
dwellers. 

TUBERCULOSIS 

The intimate relation and connection of tuberculosis with the 
evils of the tenement house system have been already alluded to. As 
has been stated by Dr. Biggs and Dr. Guerard, in the special papers 
prepared by them upon this subject, the first step in meeting this 
problem will be the improvement of the conditions of the houses in 
which the poor people of this city live. It is apparent, however, 
that many other things ought to be done to wipe out this disease 
which carries off so large a proportion of the population. The Board 
of Health should organize a system of inspection of the rooms of all 
tuberculous patients and should see that they are properly disin- 
fected after a death from this cause, and also that whenever a tuber- 
culous patient is moved out of a tenement house, the rooms should 
be disinfected. Proper hospitals and sanatoria for persons in both 
the incipient and advanced stages of this disease should be provided 
in adequate number. 

PROSTITUTION IN THE TENEMENT HOUSES 

In the course of its investigations the Commission has become 
painfully aware of one evil from which it believes tenement house 
dwellers should be protected, and protected as they are not under 
existing conditions and existing laws. That evil is the introduction 
of the practice of prostitution into reputable tenement houses. The 
forcible and earnest protest of one of our best known moral and 
religious leaders has properly awakened all classes of society to the 
horrors of this situation. But the determination of the Commission 
to investigate the evil dated back to the very beginning of the Com- 
mission's work, many months prior to the publication of that protest 
and to the recent anti-vice crusade. 

The steady growth of vice in the tenement houses has come under 
the personal observation of members of the Commission. Its special 
investigations, reenforced by the unanimous testimony of many wit- 
nesses, including the tenement house dwellers, labor representatives, 
and philanthropic workers, lead it to most earnestly protest against 
such conditions. 

It appears that prostitution has spread greatly among the tene- 
ment houses. This condition has recently grown worse, nor does it 
appear that there has been sufficient effort on the part of the public 
authorities to suppress it. Evidence has been submitted that the 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 51 

protests of the dwellers in the tenement houses immediately affected, 
as well as those of their neighbors, have been alike unheeded, and in 
spite of the best efforts of careful parents, the very house in which 
a family has dwelt, selected because it was thought to be free from 
this curse, has furnished the temptation against which parental care 
and anxiety have been in vain. The dangers of this situation to 
those of tender age in the tenement houses is alarming. We have 
ascertained that when dissolute women enter a tenement house their 
first effort is to make friends with the children. Children have been 
lured into their rooms, where they have beheld sights from which 
they should be protected. Frequently these women engage one 
family in the tenement to do their laundry work, another to do their 
cooking, and still further financial arrangements are made with the 
housekeeper. The patronage which they can distribute is thus 
utilized to make friends and to purchase the silence of those who 
might otherwise object to their presence. The children of respect- 
able families are often sent to the prostitutes on various errands, 
and because of the gifts made to the children these women become 
important personages in the house and their affairs the subject of 
frequent conversation. The familiarity with vice, often in its most 
flagrant forms, possessed by very young children because of the con- 
dition just described has profoundly impressed the Commission. 
Several physicians have informed us that though they as children 
had lived in quarters of the city where prostitution existed, they 
had not possessed a tenth of the knowledge of it which they find 
almost universal among tenement house children of the present day. 
The anxiety of reputable parents living in houses upon which these 
harlots have descended is most pitiful. One of our charity workers 
stated that she had heard women living in tenement houses thus 
infected bemoan the birth of a daughter because of their fear of the 
dangers to which she would be exposed. And the same worker 
declared that scarcely a day passed that some woman did not con- 
fide to her a mother's anxiety and despair regarding this situation. 

But it is not the children alone who are contaminated ! Boys 
and young men living in the tenement houses are tempted, and 
become addicted to habits of immorality, because of the constant 
temptation placed before them almost at the door of their home. 
Still more distressing is the condition of young girls. Such girls 
are often working in difficult situations with long hours, small pay, 
and hard work. When they return to their homes tired and per- 
haps discouraged at the end of the day's toil, they see their neigh- 
bors living lives of apparent ease, dressing far better than they can 
afford to dress on their limited wages, and showing by their manner 
that they feel themselves superior to those who are foolish enough 



52 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

to toil when they might be at leisure. The very sight of this con- 
trast with their own condition raises despairing questions, disappoint- 
ments, and bitterness. After the shock occasioned by the knowledge 
of the character of the prostitutes has subsided, as it inevitably will, 
if the evil is encountered daily, the girls are led to consider seriously 
the words of the tempters. The fall of many girls, daughters of 
honest and reputable parents, has, undoubtedly, been due to this 
contamination. From the statement of many in a position to know 
facts, we have been led to believe that more girls have been started, 
in recent years, upon a life of immorality, because of their associa- 
tions in the tenement houses, than by all other means combined that 
supply this traffic. 

Voicing the protests of tenement house dwellers, clergymen, 
teachers, and many others interested in the welfare of tenement 
house people, the Commission recommends legislation of a stringent 
character for the suppression of prostitution in tenement houses. 
While there may be serious difference of opinion regarding the 
subject as a whole, there can be no difference of opinion regarding 
the enforced mingling in the same house of old and young with 
prostitutes and their procurers. Wherever this evil may exist, and 
however it may be dealt with, it should be absolutely eradicated 
from the dwellings of the poor. 

For these reasons the Commission recommends the enactment of 
more severe penalties against prostitution in tenement houses. Its 
proposed code subjects a tenement house, any part of which is used 
as a house of prostitution, to a penalty of $ 1000 which is to be made 
a lien upon the premises. The fact that a tenement house is used 
for such purposes is made presumptive evidence that it is so 
occupied with the knowledge of the owner or lessee, with a proviso 
that such presumption may be rebutted by appropriate evidence. 
An innocent owner is protected by providing that the lease 
may be void at his option in case the tenement house be so used. 
The general reputation of the premises in the neighborhood is made 
competent evidence of such use of a house, with the proviso that 
such evidence shall not be sufficient to warrant a judgment without 
corroborative evidence, and women who reside in or commit prosti- 
tution in a tenement house are made punishable by imprisonment 
instead of by fine as has been customary. 

POLICY 

Prostitution, however, is not by any means the only form of vice 
to be found in tenement districts. The very serious evils of certain 
forms of gambling and their effects upon the general morale of the 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 53 

community, as well as their effect upon its industrial well-being, has 
been set forth in one of the special reports presented by the Com- 
mission. The temptations of the game of policy, it appears, are 
especially open to the tenement house dweller, and the Commission 
urges upon the Legislature that every means be taken to stamp out 
and eradicate this serious menace to the welfare of the community. 

TENEMENT HOUSE LABOR 

The Commission has made an investigation of the conditions of 
labor in the tenement houses, especially with reference to the mak- 
ing of garments, artificial flowers, and feathers. The evils of cigar 
making in such buildings, regarding which a forceful presentation 
was made to the Legislature ten years ago, have to a large extent 
disappeared. Through the invention of a machine called the suction 
table, the manufacture of cigars is being gradually removed into 
factories ; and it is the opinion of those best acquainted with the 
trade, that it will soon disappear from the tenement houses. But 
the opinions of workers in this trade regarding the general condi- 
tions of tenement house labor are in accord with the statements of 
workers in other trades and our own investigations. 

The law requiring the licensing of work carried on in tenement 
houses has undoubtedly led to certain improvements, but the very 
attempt to enforce the law has furnished additional proof of the 
undesirability of the conditions. Where workers apply for a license 
they may be investigated, but if a license is refused, it is not always 
possible to be sure that work will be discontinued ; and if the license 
is not applied for, it will only be by chance that the tenement house 
workshop will be discovered. 

Tenement house labor is generally carried on in the dwelling 
room of the family, where old and young are crowded in with the 
workers. The danger of contagion when any member of the family 
is ill, therefore, is very great. A member of the Commission has 
seen garments piled on the floor in the midst of dirt and rubbish, 
garments stacked on the bed and some of them used as pillows for 
sick children, and in one instance garments were found stored in 
the same room with a sick man apparently in an advanced stage of 
tuberculosis. Such conditions the Commission regards as a serious 
menace to public health. It believes that manufacturing cannot be 
continued in the tenement houses with safety to the general public 
except at great expense in the way of investigation and supervision, 
in view of the immense amount of labor at present carried on in 
tenement houses. The Commission does not, however, feel war- 
ranted in recommending the absolute abolition of tenement house 



54 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

labor. It recommends the amendment of Chapter 191 of the Laws of 
1899 by the insertion of a proviso that no license shall be issued for 
any room in a tenement house containing less than 1250 cubic feet 
of air, or used for the purpose of cooking, eating, or sleeping, or for 
children, or otherwise than as a workshop. This recommendation 
regarding the size of the room in which labor should be allowed is 
based upon knowledge of the constant use by all the members of 
the family of any room connected with a living apartment. It is 
also based upon the universally accepted fact that the average tene- 
ment house family consists of five members, though undoubtedly in 
frequent instances the boarders taken by such families make the 
average size higher. Among the Italian garment workers it has 
been frequently found that two and even three families, making a 
total of from ten to fifteen individuals, occupy a single apartment. 
But taking the conservative estimate and applying the provision of 
the law that a workshop must have at least 250 cubic feet of space 
for each worker, the Commission believes that 1250 feet should be 
required as the minimum size of any workroom in a tenement house, 
because experience has shown that an average of not less than five 
persons will use the room for a greater or less part of the day. 

This requirement of space seems especially important in view of 
the disposition of builders to make the living room of the family 
constantly smaller and smaller. 

The Commission also recommends an increase in the force of the 
Factory Inspector's Department, to enable him to adequately enforce 
the law in tenement houses. 

SANITARY CONDITIONS 

The results of examinations of a number of typical tenement 
houses which form the subject of a special report included with the 
Commission's report, show on the whole that the present plumbing 
laws, with one or two slight exceptions, are, if properly enforced, 
entirely adequate to meet the present needs. They also point out 
serious evils in old tenement houses, which imperatively call for 
remedy. 

DEATH-RATES 

The subject of death-rates in tenement house districts is one 
which the Commission carefully considered at the beginning of its 
work, especially as to whether it was desirable to make a study of 
death-rates in such districts as compared with other districts of the 
city. After consultation, however, with leading experts upon this 
subject, Dr. John S. Billings, Dr. Roger S. Tracy, and Professor 
Franklin H. Giddings, it was found that no data upon this subject 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 55 

could be obtained that would point to any definite conclusion, with- 
out more extended study than could possibly be given within the 
time at the disposal of the Commission, because of the fact that so 
many elements enter into the question that it is difficult to draw 
reliable conclusions. The Commission finds from such study of this 
subject as it has made that the death-rate cannot be deemed a cri- 
terion of bad sanitary conditions. In certain blocks in the Italian 
quarter of the city there is a very high death-rate, while in certain 
other blocks, half a mile away, in the Jewish quarter, the death-rate 
is only one-half as great as the average death-rate of the city ; yet 
in the latter district there was a greater population, the tenement 
ho'uses were taller,- and the general sanitary conditions were worse. 
Similar instances may be observed in other parts of the city. The 
explanation of this lies in the fact that race characteristics, the char- 
acter of occupation, the nature of the soil on which the building is 
located, and numerous other elements must also be taken into con- 
sideration. 

IMMIGRATION 

The subject of immigration is intimately connected with the 
tenement house problem in this city. Its varying volume and the 
proportion which different nationalities bear to each other are set 
forth in the special report on this subject. While the Commission 
appreciates that no State legislation is practicable upon this subject, 
yet it would call attention to the fact that the tenement house sys- 
tem is exerting quite as detrimental an effect upon the newly arrived 
immigrant as the newly arrived immigrant is exerting on the tene- 
ment house. 

TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 

The Commission has at all times sought from tenement dwellers 
their views upon this subject, believing that they, better than any 
one else, know the evils that need to be remedied. It has, therefore, 
submitted with this report a special paper containing the views of a 
number of such persons. It has been stated so often in the past 
that tenement dwellers will not appreciate improvements in tene- 
ment houses, that it seemed to the Commission especially important 
that the tenement house dweller should speak for himself on the 
subject, in his own way. 

THE CITY OF BUFFALO 

That comparatively little space is given in this report to tene- 
ment conditions in the city of Buffalo is not due to any failure on 



56 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

the part of the Commission to recognize the importance of this 
second great city of the State, which by its enterprise and rapid 
growth is beginning to rival the great metropolis. It is because in 
Buffalo, thanks to wise forethought and regulation, aided by favor- 
able natural conditions, the laboring classes have been housed largely 
in the small single family house, and the tenement evil, so far as 
it is caused by construction, hardly exists. Indeed, the restrictive 
regulations of Buffalo as respects, for instance, the minimum size of 
courts and the number of cubic feet of air space allotted to each in- 
dividual, are not only in advance of those now existing in New York, 
but are more stringent than the provisions of the new code submitted 
by this Commission. Not only is Buffalo in advance of New York 
in its building requirements for new tenements, but it is in the lead 
as respects public bathing facilities. It has had in operation for 
several years a system of inexpensive and economically conducted 
public baths in its most crowded districts. The special paper 
on the situation in Buffalo which forms part of this report sets 
forth in detail the progress already made by Buffalo in tenement 
house reform. 



THE OTHER CITIES OF THE STATE 

It is quite evident that tenement house legislation should not be 
confined merely to cities of the first class, and the advantage of 
regulating this important subject in time is fully illustrated by the 
experience and present advantageous position of Buffalo. That con- 
ditions there should be so favorable is largely due to the fact that 
the dangers of unrestricted tenement house construction were real- 
ized at an early date, and measures taken to prevent them before 
many unsanitary tenements had been erected and before property 
interests would thereby be affected. The scope of this Commission's 
duties has not extended beyond cities of the first class. No exami- 
nation has been made into the tenement house conditions of other 
cities. Facts have been brought to the attention of the Commission, 
however, which indicate that there is grave danger lest other cities 
of the state repeat the errors of New York. The small size of a 
city furnishes no guarantee that it will be free from tenement house 
evils and constitutes no reason why proper regulation should be neg- 
lected. A city of a neighboring State, though it contains only eighty 
thousand inhabitants, has conditions quite as bad in some respects as 
those in New York. In this city not only are there old dilapidated 
wooden and brick buildings which formerly were private residences 
now occupied by several families, but also there are numerous tene- 
ment houses erected for the special purpose of housing large num- 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 57 

bers of people, and recently there have been erected a number of 
flats and tenement houses on the same plan as the New York double- 
decker, dumb-bell tenement, with small air shafts. 

For this reason the Commission recommends that attention be 
given in time to the housing conditions in other cities throughout 
the State, with the view of taking the same measures for self- 
protection as have been so successfully initiated in Buffalo. 



STATE BOARD OF HEALTH 

The Commission has deemed it expedient to put within the 
power of the State Board of Health, upon request of the Governor, 
the express right to make any investigation into tenement house 
conditions in cities of the first class that he may deem expedient. 
The health conditions of the large cities of the State directly affect 
the State at large, and if there be any neglect of proper sanitary 
supervision on the part of the local authorities, it should be clearly 
within the power of the State to at least ascertain by investigation 
the facts, knowledge of which must necessarily precede the applica- 
tion of any effectual remedy. 



CONDITIONS IN OTHER LARGE AMERICAN CITIES 

A special report dealing with this subject has been prepared and 
forms part of the Commission's report. It appears from the facts 
therein presented that in practically none of the twenty-seven largest 
cities of this country, except Boston, Cincinnati, Jersey City, and 
Hartford, is there what can be called a tenement house problem, and 
that in the great majority of these cities the tenement house, as 
known in New York, does not exist. The poor people and working 
people live generally in small one and two story houses, containing 
at most two families, while often the houses are owned by the work- 
ing-men themselves. Chicago, with a population of a million and a 
half, has practically no tenement house problem ; it is the same with 
Philadelphia, with a population of a million and a quarter ; St. Louis, 
with a population of over half a million, Cleveland, Buffalo, San 
Francisco, Pittsburg, New Orleans, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Wash- 
ington, each of which cities has a population of over a quarter of a 
million, also have no tenement house problem. There are, of course, 
in each one of these cities certain bad housing conditions, which 
gives them what might be called a housing problem, but this is dis- 
tinct from the tenement house problem as known in New York and 
Boston. 



58 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

HOUSING CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 

The housing problem in London is the foremost political ques- 
tion of the day, and the Commission has therefore sought to ascertain 
what evils exist in leading European cities, in the hope that the 
remedies adopted to cope with the evils there might be of assistance 
in framing recommendations for New York. A special report upon 
this subject has been prepared and is submitted with the report of 
the Commission. It appears from this study that the conditions 
which exist in New York are practically unknown in any European 
city. In London the majority of the tenement houses are small two- 
story and three-story buildings, and the greatest evils are cellar 
dwellings and overcrowding in single rooms. The evil of over- 
crowding on the lots and the very serious evils of lack of light and 
air which form the main part of New York's problem are practically 
unknown in London. Similar conditions exist in Manchester, Liver- 
pool, and other large cities. Conditions in Glasgow and Edinburgh 
are somewhat different. There the nearest approach to the New 
York type of tenement house is to be found, as tall buildings accom- 
modating numbers of people exist in these Scotch cities. The evils of 
lack of light and air, however, and the evils of the air shaft are not 
known in either of these communities. The same is true of condi- 
tions in Paris, Berlin, and other European cities. 

CAN TENEMENT HOUSES BE BUILT UNDER THE NEW CODE 
WHICH WILL BE COMMERCIALLY SUCCESSFUL? 

This question has been constantly before the Commission in 
framing the new code, because it was satisfied that no set of laws 
should be recommended which would prevent new tenements from 
being built from business considerations. However satisfied mem- 
bers of the Commission have been that the law presented by them 
would accomplish this result, they have deemed it expedient to 
demonstrate, not only by professional opinion, but by actual plans, 
how practicable their recommendations were. To this end the Com- 
mission requested a number of leading architects of the city who 
had special knowledge and experience in planning tenement houses, 
and who, with great public spirit, placed their services at the dis- 
posal of the Commission, to prepare plans for tenement houses which 
could be constructed under the new code. Such plans have been 
prepared by the following architects : Mr. George S. Drew, Jr., 
Mr. Ernest Flagg, Mr. R. W. Gibson, Messrs. Harde & Short, 
Messrs. Israels & Harder, Messrs. Stephenson & Greene, and Mr. 
Joseph Wolf. These plans demonstrate that commercial tenement 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 



59 




ISRAELS & HAEDEK. ARCHITECTS. 

PROPOSED PLAN FOR NEW-LAW TENEMENT HOUSE. 



60 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 




HABDE & SHORT, ARCHITECTS. 
PROPOSED PLAN FOR NEW-LAW TENEMENT HOUSE. 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 



61 




EENBST FLA.GG, ARCHITECT. 
PROPOSED PLAN FOR NEW-LAW TENEMENT HOUSE, 



62 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 




HARDB & SHORT, ARCHITECTS. 
PROPOSED PLAN FOR NEW-LAW TENEMENT HOUSE. 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 



63 



25'moo LOT -70 R ectn 

* APARTMENTS - II KOO 




HAEDE & SHORT, ARCHITECTS. 
PROPOSED PLAN FOB NEW-LAW TENEMENT HOUSE. 



64 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 



TE NEJAENT -75'0"CbirT. 




PROPOSED PLAN FOB NEW-LAW TENEMENT HOUSE. 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 



65 




HARDK & SHORT, ARCHITECTS. 
PROPOSED PLAN FOR NEW-LAW TENEMENT Hou&a. 



VOL. i F 



66 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

houses can be constructed under the provisions of the new code, 
not only on 50-foot lots, 100-foot lots, and 75-foot lots, but on 25-foot 
lots as well, and that upon a 25-foot lot there is no difficulty in 
planning a tenement house with twelve rooms on each floor, with 
adequate provision for light and air. This is as great a number of 
rooms as could be now obtained if the present law limiting the per- 
centage of lot to 65 per cent was strictly enforced. One architect 
has drawn a plan for a 50-foot tenement in which twenty-eight 
rooms can be obtained on a floor, which is fully as many as can now 
he obtained in the worst type of double-decker. The Commission 
submits with this report a sufficient number of plans prepared by 
these architects to illustrate the entire practicability of the new code. 

CONCLUSION 

As the members of the Commission have proceeded in the work 
intrusted to them by the Legislature, they have been increasingly 
and profoundly impressed with the variety and importance of the 
interests involved. There is not a tenement house question. There 
are a thousand tenement house questions. In New York certainly 
there is no group of questions that so profoundly affects the public 
welfare or the welfare of so many of the public. 

While the fundamental evils of insufficient light and air, insuffi- 
cient fire protection, and inadequate sanitary arrangements, as well 
as that most fundamental evil of all, failure to properly enforce the 
law, will continue in greater or less degree, there are some phases of 
the tenement house question which are likely to change and some 
new remedies which will have to be applied, either to meet new con- 
ditions or to take the place of remedies which have proved them- 
selves to be ineffective. The Commission of 1894 recommended the 
abolition of the then existing permanent Tenement House Board, 
consisting of certain city officials who became members of the Board 
by virtue of their office, because this Board had done nothing, and, 
with the other more important official duties imposed upon its mem- 
bers, was unlikely to do anything. It recommended, however, that 
another statutory commission upon the subject be created by the 
Legislature every five years. In the recommendation for a periodic 
appointment of such a commission the present Commission joins. 
In no other way can the shifting conditions of the various tenement 
house problems be so effectively met. 

If, however, a separate tenement house department be created 
directly charged with tenement house supervision and with no other 
distracting duties, the necessity for such a commission, so far as 
New York City is concerned, will be much diminished. 



THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 67 

The Commission has sought by every means in its power to 
obtain expert information and expert opinion. Immediately after 
its appointment the Commission invited the heads of different city 
departments charged with the supervision of tenement houses to 
meet them informally. The invitation was accepted by the heads of 
the Building Department, Health Department, and Fire Department, 
who courteously placed all the information in their departments at 
the disposal of the Commission, and have afforded it every facility. 

It has also been especially fortunate in having had the hearty co- 
operation of the leading architectural societies of the city, the New 
York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Archi- 
tectural League, and the Society of Beaux Arts Architects having 
appointed special committees to cooperate with the Tenement House 
Commission. 

The Commission desires to acknowledge its indebtedness to these 
and to all the many persons who have cooperated with the Commis- 
sion, and to acknowledge its special sense of indebtedness to those 
persons who have prepared for the Commission special reports upon 
different subjects, as well as to the architects who have prepared 
plans for the Commission showing what tenement houses can be 
built under the proposed code of tenement house laws. The Com- 
mission appreciates the public spirit prompting this work, and wishes 
to place on record its sense of deep obligation to all who have in 
these and in other ways helped the Commission in its work. 

The recommendations of the Commission embodied in this report 
represent the conclusions reached after careful consideration of each 
question from the various sides. The more important subjects have 
been considered and acted upon by the Commission as a whole. 
While this has added greatly to the burdens of the Commissioners, 
it gives them greater confidence in the conclusions thus reached. 

There have been no differences of opinion between members of 
the Commission except those necessarily incident to the earnest 
consideration of important public questions by thoughtful men, and 
these have been so few in number and have been discussed so freely 
and frankly, as to only emphasize the harmony of aim and spirit 
which has characterized all their deliberations. 

The present Commission is larger in number than any of its pred- 
ecessors. It includes among its members and officers men who 
have planned tenement houses as architects, men who have con- 
structed them as builders, men who have managed them as agents, 
men who have lived in them, and men who are now in control of 
them as owners. It also includes those who have been officially con- 
nected with all the New York City departments charged with tene- 
ment supervision, the Health Department, the Building Department, 



68 THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM 

and the Fire Department, as well as others who are interested in 
tenement house conditions from the philanthropic side. A Commis- 
sion thus constituted has had unusual facilities for looking at the 
subject from all these different points of view, and more particularly, 
perhaps, from the point of view of the practical business man. 



TENEMENT HOUSE EEFOEM IN NEW YORK 
CITY, 1834-1900 

BY LAWRENCE VEILLER 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFOEM IN NEW TOEK 
CITY, 1834-1900 

THE movement for housing reform in New York dates back as 
far as 1834, when Gerritt Forbes, the City Inspector of the Board 
of Health, in his annual report giving the record of burials or deaths, 
called attention to the condition of the tenement houses at that 
time. 

In commenting on the high death-rate, he says: "Some cause 
should be assigned for the increase of deaths beyond the increase of 
population, and none appears so prominent as that of intemperance 
and the crowded and filthy state in which a great portion of our 
population live, apparently without being sensible of their situation ; 
and we have serious cause to regret that there are in our city so 
many mercenary landlords who only contrive in what manner they 
can stow the greatest number of human beings in the smallest space." 
This was over sixty years ago when New York's population was only 
about 270,000. 

THE FIRST IMPORTANT MOVEMENT 1842 

The first attempt, however, to give any comprehensive idea of 
the condition of the dwellings of the poorer classes in New York 
City was not made until 1842, when Dr. John H. Griscom, the City 
Inspector of the Board of Health, called attention to the existing 
conditions in his Annual Report to the Board of Aldermen. Prior 
to this time the City Inspector had contented himself with simply 
reporting the various statistics available as to the number of deaths 
occurring during the year, their causes, and the ages of the people 
among whom the deaths occurred, with a few brief remarks explana- 
tory of the statistics. Dr. Griscom, however, in addition to this 
formal report, submitted a pamphlet of eighteen printed pages 
entitled, " A Brief View of the Sanitary Condition of the City." In 
it he says : " It will not, it is presumed, be disputed that New York 
contains a much larger proportion of inhabitants of foreign birth 
than any other city of the United States, and this fact assumes, in 
connection with the mortality of the city, especially with the diseases 

71 



72 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

under consideration, vital importance, as affecting its sanitary repu- 
tation. Here are congregated armies of foreigners, drawn from 
their homes for various causes, and mostly in search of a living, 
allured by the flattering expectations held out by a 'free country.' 
They bring with them destitution, misery, and too often disease 
already taken root ; if in good health when leaving home, the suffer- 
ing, privation, and close confinement incidental to the voyage rarely 
fail to engender disease, especially fevers and diseases of the lungs, 
from the effects of which they frequently never recover, and their 
broken constitutions are thus rendered a fertile soil for the germina- 
tion of seeds of new diseases which future circumstances may plant. 
Ostracized, they soon experience the depressing effects of being 
strangers in a strange land; ignorant where to look for support, 
thousands are cast upon charity for a meagre and uncertain subsist- 
ence. Living with their acquaintance awhile in crowded apart- 
ments, in cellars, in crumbling tenements, and narrow courts and 
streets, and upon food poor in quality and stinted in quantity, they 
are peculiarly exposed to inroads of disease, and to none more than 
consumption." 

The first among the most serious causes of disordered general 
health to which he drew their attention was the crowded condition 
with insufficient ventilation of a great number of the dwellings of the 
city. " This subject," he remarks, " is properly to be regarded in a 
twofold aspect. First as respects the direct physical influence of the 
impurity of the atmosphere arising from the abundant animal and 
vegetable exhalations. Second, with regard to the depraved effects 
which such modes of life exert upon the moral feelings and habits, 
with the tendency of that depravity to increase or modify the severity 
and forms of disease. 

"The influences of a confined atmosphere are nowhere more 
marked than among the residents of those houses which are occupied 
by one or two and sometimes even more families in each room. It 
is truly surprising how small a space some families can reside in, and 
how densely they are willing to crowd themselves. Thus circum- 
stanced, when disease overtakes them its severity is greatly enhanced, 
and the chances of recovery correspondingly diminished. One of the 
most potent causes of the disease and mortality of this, as it is of 
every other city, in a greater or less degree, is the residence of a 
considerable part of the population in cellars and basements and in 
courts and alleys. A large proportion of these are subjected to the 
most trying of all the circumstances of pauper life, except perhaps 
that of being absolutely houseless ; and in many instances that have 
fallen under notice, the latter would almost seem to be the preferable 
condition, for a portion of the year at least." 




DR. JOHN H. GRISCOM, THE PIONEER IN TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN 
NEW YORK CITY. 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 73 

In order that the Common Council might realize the extent of 
this evil, Dr. Griscom had prepared for them a detailed report as to 
the number of cellars and courts in each ward of the city. Although 
this investigation was made rather hurriedly, it appears that there 
were then 1459 cellars or underground rooms being used as places 
of residence by 7196 persons, and that there were as many as 6618 
different families living in courts or in rear buildings. 

Commenting further upon the unhealthy condition of such places, 
he says : 

" With regard to the influence of these localities upon the health 
and lives of the inmates there is, there can be, no dispute, but few 
are aware of the dreadful extent of the disease and suffering to 
be found in them. In the damp, dark, and chilly cellars, fevers, 
rheumatism, contagious and inflammatory disorders, affections of 
lungs, skin, and eyes, and numerous others, are rife and too often 
successfully combat the skill of the physician and the benevolence of 
strangers. I speak now of the influence of the locality merely; the 
degraded habits of life, the filth and degenerate morals, the confined 
and crowded apartments, and the insufficient food of those who live 
in more elevated rooms comparatively beyond reach of the exhalations 
of the soil, engender a different train of diseases sufficiently distress- 
ing to contemplate ; but the addition to all these causes of the foul 
influences of incessant moisture and the more confined air of under- 
ground rooms is productive of evils that humanity cannot regard 
without shuddering." 

THE REAL CAUSE OF THE EVIL 

It is extremely interesting to find the real cause of New York's 
housing evils so clearly pointed out at this early date. Dr. Griscom 
shows most conclusively that the growth of the bad conditions in 
New York was due, not to the shape of the city, as has been often 
claimed, but to the sudden increase of the city's population in 1817, 
and again in 1828, by a horde of ignorant, poverty-stricken immi- 
grants, who in the absence of any restraining legislation were 
crowded into quarters hardly fit for beasts. 

The grave moral and social dangers arising from such conditions 
he was thoroughly conscious of, and he rightly ascribes the poverty, 
the vice, and the crime then existing not so much to the " innate 
depravity " of the people, as to the environment in which they were 
forced to live. He says : 

" The overcrowded state of many tenements and the want of 
separate apartments are prolific sources of moral degradation and 
physical suffering. They operate directly, vitiating the atmosphere 



74 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

already too confined for a moiety of the inmates, while by the close 
approximation of both sexes of all ages and relationships, and often 
of no relationship except necessity, and a too familiar intercourse of 
parents, sons, and daughters, without partition or curtain to shield 
them night or day, sleeping in the same room and often in the same 
bed, there are created an indifference to the common decencies of life 
and a disregard of the sacred obligations of moral propriety, which 
result in a depressing effect upon the physiological energies, and 
powerfully heighten the susceptibility to aggravate the type, and 
render more difficult the cure of disease among them. The inci- 
dence or parallelism of moral degradation and physical disease is 
plainly apparent to an experienced observer. 

" The causes of the unclean habits of so many poor are not to be 
sought wholly in the preference for dirt, or even in a natural unacquired 
negligence. Moral degradation induced by circumstances of life, feel- 
ings approaching despair induced by bitter poverty, the sight of suf- 
fering families never absent from thought, prostrates in many a desire 
for a better appearance, and puts out of their power more comfortable 
personal habits. Not the least potent among the causes, I think, 
may be ranked the uncertainty of the tenure of the home, which the 
unfeeling cupidity of the landlord or sub-landlord may sever at any 
moment. From the narrow space and miserable shelter of four bare 
walls, and a broken ceiling or leaky roof, a whole family may be ex- 
pelled at a moment's notice upon the non-payment, at the precise 
time, of the weekly stipend of rent. Even the able-bodied, willing, 
and industrious husband and father may, from the loss of work occa- 
sioned by sickness or bad weather, see himself and family driven to 
the open street. Can it be wondered at that the continual despondency, 
fear of. suffering, and harassing care of this wearisome state of exist- 
ence should create a carelessness of person and dwelling ? ' Why 
should I try to clean out to-day a place from which to-morrow I may be 
cast out ? ' is the self-imposed query which too often blocks the way of 
any effort at personal and domiciliary improvement among the class 
of whom I speak. If the hard system of tenantage to which they 
are subjected is not an immediate, it is doubtless among the remote, 
causes of their condition, and an improvement in it would unques- 
tionably promote a better feeling in its victims ; with relief from 
this oppression would come a determination for a better appearance, 
and what is believed to be innate love of order and cleanliness in 
many instances would regain its ascendency. Examples almost 
without number might be adduced of the happy influence upon the 
appearance, actual comforts, and health of poor tenants, of kindness 
and judicious indulgence on the part of the landlord, and it may well 
be questioned whether in a pecuniary point of view this course is not 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 75 

eventually the more profitable. Applying this reasoning to the sani- 
tary condition of the residents of damp cellars and pent-up courts 
with which some parts of New York abound, and firmly believing 
with Edwin Chadwick, an able commentator on this subject, that 
c the external and internal condition of the residence, the apparent 
rank it holds, and the facilities it affords for living, are not without 
a moral effect upon the occupants, by increasing or diminishing their 
self-respect and pride in the decencies of life,' we look anxiously for 
the adoption of such remedial measures as intelligent legislation or 
private philanthropy may suggest, and the exigencies of the case 
may require ; we turn hopelessly from the inexorable features of a 
sub-landlord, his only object is to increase his gains as much as 
possible during the term of his leasehold, regardless too often of 
the character and comforts of his tenants." 



LEGISLATION URGED FOR THE FIRST TIME 

Further, Dr. Griscom says : " A due regard for the health of the 
citizens and residents would justify the city legislature in prohibit- 
ing cellars as dwellings ; in requiring the owner or lessee to keep 
all the out and in door premises clean and free from everything 
likely to prove injurious to public health; and an immediate stop 
should be put to the practice of crowding so many human beings in 
such limited spaces as we often see them. The wise prohibition to 
carry more than a graduated number of people in sea-going vessels 
should be extended to dwellings on land. If there is any propriety in 
the law regulating the construction of buildings in reference to fire, 
equally proper would be one respecting the protection of the inmates 
from the pernicious influence of badly arranged houses and apart- 
ments. The power given to a magistrate to pull down a building 
whose risk of falling endangers the lives of the inmates or passers-by, 
may with equal reason be extended to the correction of the interior 
condition of tenements when dangerous to health and life. The lat- 
ter should be regarded by the legislator and executive with as much 
solicitude as the property of citizens." 

I have quoted at such length from this report of Dr. Griscom's 
because the description of the conditions existent at that time applies 
on the whole to most of the evils of the tenement house system of the 
present day, though the extent of the evils has greatly increased since 
that time ; and because it rightly ascribes the growth of these bad con- 
ditions, not to the narrowness of the island of Manhattan or the shape 
of the city, but to the sudden increase of the city's population through 
the arrival of ignorant immigrants, and above all to the lack of proper 
regulation and control of such dwellings by the municipal authorities. 



76 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

THE MOVEMENT OF 1846 ASSOCIATION FOR IMPROVING THE 
CONDITION OF THE POOR 

In 1846 attention was again called to the condition of the dwell- 
ings of the poor in New York by the Association for Improving the 
Condition of the Poor. This society was organized in 1843 as a 
charitable or relief society, and it is significant of the intimate causal 
relation existing between poverty and the housing problem, that in one 
of the first reports issued by this society these statements should occur : 

" The tenements of the poor in this city are generally defective 
in size, arrangement, supplies of water, warmth, and ventilation ; also 
the yards, sinks, and sewerage are in bad condition. The occupants 
consequently often suffer from sickness and premature mortality ; 
their ability for self -maintenance is thereby impaired or destroyed ; 
social habits and morals are debased, and a vast amount of wretched- 
ness, pauperism, and crime is produced." 

Prior to this time, the dwellings of the poor had not been a sub- 
ject of interest or attention on the part of the more fortunate mem- 
bers of the community, little attention being paid to their condition 
except by the City Inspector and by those members of the clergy 
whose labors took them among the poor as " City Missionaries." 

Between the years 1846 and 1853, the work of investigation 
undertaken by this association was quietly carried on, and plans for 
the improvement of existing conditions were gradually developed. 
At one time it was decided to form a company to build " model tene- 
ments," it being felt that if it were once demonstrated how such 
buildings should be built, the ordinary builder would be quick to 
follow such an example. This plan, however, was not carried out 
at that time, although it had progressed to such an extent that archi- 
tectural plans of an improved tenement were prepared. When the 
decision not to build " model " tenements was reached, the plans 
were lithographed and extensively distributed among capitalists and 
builders. For a short time after this, a slight improvement in the 
character of the new tenement houses erected was to be seen, but the 
former condition of affairs soon returned, and " many were erected 
on so contracted a scale as to be inferior to the old buildings whose 
places they were intended to supply." 

Appreciating the fact that unless special efforts were made to 
remove these evils, the results would be disastrous to the welfare of 
the city, the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, on 
June 13, 1853, appointed a special committee " to inquire into the 
sanitary condition of the laboring classes, and the practicability of 
devising measures for improving the comfort and healthiness of their 
habitations." 




THE OLD "BAPTIST CHURCH.' 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 77 



THE FIRST TENEMENT HOUSE REPORT, 1853 

The report of this Committee was made some four months later, 
being published in a pamphlet of thirty-two pages, printed by the 
Association, and constitutes the first tenement house report made in 
America. 

The Committee under the direction of its able Secretary, Mr. R. 
M. Hartley, and with the cooperation of different city missionaries 
and visitors of the Association, made a thorough examination of 
many of the worst tenement houses in all the different wards of the 
city. 

The state of affairs disclosed by their investigations was one 
which called for prompt and effective remedies. Its effect on the 
public mind should have been great, for it brought to light the gravest 
social evils. 

In the lower wards of the city the Committee reported that there 
were " thousands of poor persons, but comparatively few buildings 
suitable for their accommodation ; most of the houses are those which 
were formerly occupied by the wealthy who have removed up town, 
and now in their dilapidated state many of them are tenanted by 
miserably poor Irish and German emigrants. Large rooms have 
been divided by rough partitions into dwellings for two or three 
families (each, perhaps, taking boarders), where they wash, cook, eat, 
sleep, and die many of them prematurely, for the circumstances in 
which they live make fearful havoc of health and life ; and in addi- 
tion, night lodgers consisting of homeless men, women, and children 
are not unfrequent, who for a trifling sum are allowed temporary 
shelter. There, huddled together like cattle in pens, the inmates 
are subjected to the most debasing influences. Many of the dwell- 
ings, moreover, are out of repair, and the yards, from neglect of the 
sinks, in so vile a condition they can scarcely be stepped into, with- 
out contracting filth of the most offensive kind. 

" Crazy old buildings crowded rear tenements in filthy yards ; 
dark, damp basements ; leaky garrets, shops, outhouses, and stables 
converted into dwellings, though scarcely fit to shelter brutes are 
the habitations of thousands of our fellow-beings in this wealthy 
city." 

The descriptions of many of the buildings visited by the Com- 
mittee are well worth reproduction here, not only for their his- 
torical value as indicating the state of affairs existing in the city 
at that time, but also because most of the descriptions apply 
equally well to conditions in New York City to-day, forty-seven 
years later. 



78 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 



A NOTORIOUS TENEMENT "GOTHAM COURT" 

In their report they say: " In Cherry Street is a tenement house, 
on two lots, extending back from the street, about 150 feet, five 
stories above the basement, so arranged as to contain 120 families, 
or more than 500 persons. A small room and bedroom are allowed 
each family in this building, which is of the better class, but the 
direful consequences of imperfect ventilation and over-crowding 
are severely felt." This was the notorious tenement house, " Gotham 
Court," known for years to the police as " single and double alley " 
because of the two long, narrow alleyways extending along each 
side of the building. It is interesting to note the statement that the 
building at that time " was one of the better class " ; ten years later 
the Council of Hygiene found it to be a perpetual fever nest, the 
haunt of typhus and smallpox, and the abode of every kind of 
moral disease as well. 

This is what Dr. Ezra R. Pulling of the Council of Hygiene said 
of it in 1864 : " The building known as No. 36 and No. 38 Cherry. 
Street forms a part of what has heretofore been known as ' Gotham 
Court.' As measured, it is 34 feet 4 inches wide in front and rear, 
is 234 feet long, and 5 stories high. On the north it is contiguous 
to a large tenant house fronting on Roosevelt Street. On the west, 
an alley 9 feet wide separates it from a similar structure forming a 
part of the 'Court.' On the east, another alley, 7 feet wide, divides 
it from the rear of a number of houses on Roosevelt Street. 

" In the basement of this building are the privies, through which 
the Croton-water is permitted to run for a short time occasionally ; 
but this is evidently insufficient to cleanse them, for their emana- 
tions render the first story exceedingly offensive, and may be per- 
ceived as a distinct odor as high as the third floor. 

"The contents of the privies are discharged into subterranean 
drains or sewers, which run through each alley and communicate 
with the external atmosphere by a series of grated openings through 
which fetid exhalations are continually arising. These openings 
receive the drainage of the buildings, besides the refuse matter which 
is not too bulky to pass through the gratings, a bordering of dis- 
gusting filth frequently surrounding them. 

" This structure contains twelve principal div ; sions, each having 
a common staircase communicating with ten domiciles, making 120 
tenements in all. Each tenement consists of two rooms, the largest 
of which is 14 feet 8 inches long, 9 feet 6 inches wide, and 8 feet 4 
inches high. The smaller having the same length and height, is 8 
feet 6 inches wide. The two apartments together contain 1955J 
cubic feet. Each room has one small window. The doors leading 




NOTORIOUS "GOTHAM COURT. 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 79 

from the landings are contiguous to the wall in which these windows 
are situated, so that it is impossible for a current of air to pass 
through the rooms under any circumstances. 

" At the time of visit, 49 of the tenements were either vacant or 
the occupants absent. In the remaining 71 there were reported as 
residing 504 persons, averaging a little more than 7 persons to each 
occupied domicile. The entire amount of space in the rooms occu- 
pied is 138,840 cubic feet, which would be equal to a single room 
118 feet square, and about 10 feet high, giving each individual an 
average of about 275 cubic feet, equal to a closet 5 feet square and 
11 feet high. It must be recollected that the above total space con- 
tains not only its 504 inhabitants, but their furniture, bedding, and 
household utensils, besides no small portion of their excretions, as is 
painfully evident to every one who, in these regions, has the mis- 
fortune to possess an acute sense of smell. Of the entire number of 
tenements, four only were found in a condition approaching cleanli- 
ness. It need scarcely be said that the entire establishment swarms 
with vermin. 

" In seven of the tenements tailoring was carried on. In five out 
of the seven the articles manufactured were for the use of the army. 
In two of these rooms patients were found sick of contagious dis- 
eases. One was a case of typhus fever, the other of measles. 

"The average length of time that the residents have occupied 
the premises is reported to be about two years and eight months. 
There have been 138 births, including 12 still-born, in these families 
during their term of residence in the building. Of these only 77 
are now living, showing an infant mortality of over 44 per cent in 
two years and eight months ; but, as by far the greater number of 
these deaths occur during the first year, it may be safely assumed 
that 30 per cent of those born here do not survive a twelvemonth. 
The total number of deaths reported as occurring in the families 
now occupying the premises during their term of residence there, is 
98, or about 19J per cent of the population for that period. 

" Of the 504 inmates, 146, or about 29 per cent, were found to be 
suffering from diseases of a more or less serious character, among 
which were four cases of smallpox (three of them unvaccinated), 
eight cases of typhus fever, seven cases of scarlatina, and four of 
measles in the eruptive stage, twenty-seven cases of infantile maras- 
mus, twelve cases of phthisis pulmonalis, five cases of dysentery, 
three cases of chronic diarrhoea, and a large number of slight cases 
of diarrhoea and of cutaneous eruptions. 

" On the whole, perhaps this section of Gotham Court presents 
about an average specimen of tenant houses in the lower part of the 
city in respect to salubrity. There are some which are more roomy, 



80 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

have better means of ventilation, and are kept cleaner, but there are 
many which are in far worse condition and exhibit a much higher 
rate of mortality than this." 

It would seem that after such a revelation, no civilized com- 
munity could tolerate such a condition of affairs for a moment, yet 
not till nearly forty years later was Gotham Court dealt with. In 
1896 it was torn down, and no longer can it send forth its evil 
influences to pollute the stream of our civic life. But if one could 
reckon the evil that it has done in the sixty years of its existence, 
what a heavy sum it would be ! Who can estimate the extent of 
the physical and moral disorder thus created by this one building, 
the loathsome diseases, the death, the pauperism, the vice, the 
crime, the debasement of civic life ? 

Had the warning given in 1853, by the Association for Improv- 
ing the Condition of the Poor, been heeded in time, how different 
might the conditions have been to-day. Not only would there have 
been no " Gotham Courts," but we should not now be facing all over 
our city a condition which threatens the well-being of the whole 
community. 

What the Association found in the fourth ward of the city in 
1853, they found also in other wards. 

" In the fifth and most other wards, in order to use every foot 
of ground, tenements are crowded together in pent-up courts, which 
extend the whole length of the lots, and though some of these are 
superior to many of the old rickety buildings which are occupied by 
the poor, they are generally so faulty in arrangement, as neither to 
subserve health, convenience, comfort, or economy." 

Again, " Most of the tenements are filthy and wretched in the ex- 
treme, the direct tendency of which is to induce disease, lower moral 
character, and take away all thrift and care for decency and clean- 
liness." 

In the sixth ward the Committee found that "many are in a 
condition incomparably worse than the hovel dwellers, where father, 
mother, children, and swine live and lodge together. These dens 
of squalid wretchedness, intemperance, and filth pay a rent which 
should afford the occupants comfortable houses." 

The temptation to quote at length from this report is very great, 
but enough has already been given to show what the conditions were 
at that time, and the extent of the evils which the Association sought 
to remedy. 

RENTALS AND VALUES OF LAND IN 1853 

Let me add, however, that this report contains many details as 
to rentals, the value of tenement houses at that time, the sizes of 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 81 

rooms, etc., of great value to the student of this subject. The Com- 
mittee found in Scammel Street a house and lot valued at $4000, 
which yielded a rental representing 20 per cent gross profit on 
the investment. To-day the same lot of land is worth about 
$18,000. In the tenth ward, now one of the most crowded sec- 
tions of the city, the tenement houses at that time contained an 
average of six families to a house and the rooms were generally 
10 by 12 feet and 10 by 14 feet ; such a house and lot then being 
valued at $5000. To-day, in the same part of the city, the land 
alone is worth $20,000, the average number of families to a house is 
twenty-two, while the bedrooms are seldom more than 7J by 7 feet 
in size. Even in 1853 the over-crowding had begun to set in, in 
this ward. 

The Committee reported that " the best habitations for laboring 
classes in this district are the recently built tenant houses ; but 
these are overstocked with inmates, and in many instances very badly 
arranged ; the sleeping rooms, for example, are frequently without 
means of ventilation, being dark or having windows 18 inches square 
with fixed lattices." 

Another house, in Mangin Street, not far from the East River, on 
a lot 30 feet by 100 feet, valued then at $6000, brought in a gross 
annual rental of $1008. To-day, this land alone is worth about 
$18,000. Another building in the fifth ward, on a lot 25 feet by 
100 feet, was found to contain twenty-five families, and the property 
was assessed at $6500, and yielded an annual net income exclusive 
of taxes, repairs, etc., of $1950, or 30 per cent on the assessed value. 

Other cases might be cited at length showing the enormous 
profits reaped by landlords, which, from the statements made by the 
Committee, would seem to have ranged from 15 per cent to 20 per 
cent net. 

As a result of their investigations, the Committee came to the 
conclusion that " the dwellings of the industrious classes in New 
York were not adapted to the wants of human beings, nor compati- 
ble with the health, or the social or moral improvement, of the 
occupants." 

THE MAIN EVILS IN 1853 

Among the influences which in their opinion were responsible 
for the prevalence of bad conditions, were the following : 

First. The crowded condition of the dwellings in which the poor 
were compelled to live. 

Second. Too great density of population in certain districts. 

Third. Neglect of ventilation, a prevailing cause of ill health. 

VOL. I O 



82 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

The Committee found that at least three-fourths of the tene- 
ments occupied by the laboring classes were overcrowded, and that 
a room 10 feet by 12 feet, with a bedroom, was the most space usu- 
ally allowed in the better class of these dwellings for each family. 
"What then," the Committee ask, "must be the discomfort, disease, 
and demoralization of the thousands who have but a single apart- 
ment of the most inferior kind, of small dimensions, low ceilings, 
etc., and that crowded with two or three, and sometimes four or five 
families ? An awful sacrifice of health, life, and morals is insepara- 
ble from such a condition." "This, however," they go on to say r 
"is scarcely more than a negative view of the facts. Such tene- 
ments are almost invariably surrounded with disgusting filth, 
poisonous gases, and with various other local unhealthy influences 
which are scarcely less injurious to the inmates than is their pent-up 
indoor life." The Committee laid great stress upon the necessity of 
pure air for the preservation of health, and claimed that the lack of 
this was responsible for a large part of the " fevers, consumptions, 
choleras, dysenteries, and other mortal diseases " then so prevalent in 
the tenement houses. 

Nothing contained in this report is of greater interest than the 
statement that " the number of persons on a given area of soil cannot 
be increased beyond a certain limit, without endangering health." In 
support of this statement, evidence was adduced to show that in a 
certain building, out of fifteen men who were employed on the 
second floor of the building, only four made any complaint of illness, 
while out of seventeen employed precisely in the same way on the 
third and uppermost floor, " three had spitting of blood, two had 
affections of the lungs, and five constant and severe colds," in other 
words, ten of these seventeen suffered from diseases of the chest, 
while only one in the room beneath had a disease of this nature. 
In another room similarly constructed, the health of but four out of 
twenty in the lower room was injuriously affected, while ten out 
of twenty in the upper room were diseased. " If, therefore," the 
Committee says, " a one-story dwelling 25 feet by 40 feet may 
safely accommodate ten persons, another ten cannot occupy a second 
story over the same ground with impunity, nor without risk to the 
health of those in the first story ; and as the air vitiated by respira- 
tion ascends, if a third, fourth, or fifth story is added and occupied, 
as is common, especially in new tenant houses, the danger to all is 
increased in a fearful ratio." 

From which the Committee concludes that, " it is not therefore 
the number of cubic feet of air which determines the healthfulness 
of a residence for a given number of persons ; the superficial feet 
of earth they may cover is an important item of consideration." 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 83 

They go on to say, " Yet it is by the utter disregard of this law in 
the construction of houses, so as to get the greatest possible return 
for the smallest possible outlay, that the comfort, health, life, and 
morals of thousands are sacrificed." 

Considerable attention is paid to underground dwellings by the 
Committee, it being pointed out that in 1850 there were 18,456 per- 
sons crowded together in 3742 cellars, which were " always damp, 
badly ventilated, generally filthy, and beds of pestilence and dis- 
ease." The impossibility of maintaining decent standards of cleanli- 
ness, both of the home and of the individual in the tenement houses, 
and the consequences of such a condition of affairs are pointed out 
in no uncertain terms. The Committee says, " the laboring classes 
are made filthy, reckless, and vicious by the force of circumstances 
over which, in most cases, they have no control." 

" When families of five, eight, or ten persons each, live in a con- 
tracted apartment that is applied to every conceivable domestic use, 
and from fifteen to thirty such families in the same house, having 
the entry, stairway, and yard in common, the last badly drained, 
perhaps unpaved, and the receptacle of all deleterious and offensive 
things it would be truly surprising if the tenants did not become 
filthy, reckless, and debased, whatever might have been their previ- 
ous habits or character." 

The grave moral evils resulting from the lack of domestic pri- 
vacy and the intermingling of the sexes, is touched upon, as are the 
evils of intemperance, juvenile crime, the high death-rate, and lack 
of thrift, all of which the Committee considered were caused in large 
part by the character of the buildings in which the people were 
compelled to live. 

BAD HOUSING AND INTEMPERANCE 

Of intemperance it is said, " The dreadful depression conse- 
quent on ill health (the effect of crowded, filthy, badly ventilated 
dwellings) tempts these poor creatures, with a force we cannot ade- 
quately appreciate, to have recourse to stimulating drink." Again, 
" The wonder is, not that so many of the laboring classes crowd to 
the liquor shops, but that so many are found struggling to make 
their wretched abodes a home for their family." 

As a remedy for all these evils, the Committee recommended that 
capitalists and owners of real estate should build model tenements, 
but also called attention to the necessity for legislative intervention, 
stating that, "these crying evils cannot be removed or essentially 
diminished without special legislative action. Pure air, light, and 
water being indispensable to health and life, if tenements are so 



84 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

badly constructed as to preclude a proper supply of these essential 
elements, the law should interpose for the protection of the sufferers, 
and either close up such dwellings, or cause them to be so remodelled 
as to be fit for human habitations." 

It seems inconceivable that after the disclosure of such a state of 
affairs in the foremost city of this country, that nothing should have 
been done to remedy these conditions. And yet not till fourteen 
years later did the State step in and enact a series of requirements 
looking toward the prevention of the recurrence of these evils. 

Although legislation on this subject was postponed for fourteen 
years, yet the disclosures made by Dr. Griscom and the Committee 
of the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor were 
not without direct results. In the following year, 1854, the Asso- 
ciation for Improving the Condition of the Poor again called atten- 
tion to the great need of reform in the dwellings of the poor in New 
York City, taking as a text the records of the deaths and death-rates 
in the different wards of the city, published by Dr. Griscom, the 
City Inspector, in his Annual Report, commenting on these and de- 
scribing the character of each ward from the point of view of its 
wealth, its healthfulness and population, the character of the dwell- 
ings, the proportion of the foreign to the native element, and the 
amount of poverty found by the Association. 

THE FIRST SOCIOLOGICAL STUDY OF TENEMENT 
CONDITIONS 1854 

In the eleventh ward, bounded by Rivington Street on the 
south, Fourteenth Street on the north, Avenue B on the west, and 
the East River on the east, a minute, economic, and statistical exami- 
nation was made, covering a period of six months. The statis- 
tics gathered comprised 410 pages, numbering over 10,000 columns 
of figures. The Association found that the number of inhabitants of 
the ward in 1854 was 53,282, and that the number of families in the 
ward at that time was 12,555, averaging 4.24 persons to a family. 
The number of dwelling houses was found to be 2218, occupied as 
follows : 

263 houses were occupied by 1 family each, 
889 houses were occupied by between 1 and 5 families each, 
720 houses were occupied by between 5 and 10 families each, 
309 houses were occupied by between 10 and 20 families each, 
37 were occupied by over 20 families each. 

It was found that the average number of persons to a family 
in this ward was 4.24 ; that the average number of families to a 
dwelling at that time was 5.65, and that the average number of per- 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 85 

sons to a dwelling was 23.85. The Association commented unfavor- 
ably on these facts, saying, " this compares unfavorably with other 
large cities. The average number of persons to a dwelling in Bos- 
ton in 1845 was 10.67, or less than one-half the average in this 
ward ; in London, in 1841, it was 7.5, and in Liverpool 6.9, in Man- 
chester 5.7, in Edinburgh 6, and in the whole of England 5.4 ; and 
in the whole of the United States in 1850, fourteen houses out of 
fifteen of all dwellings were each occupied on the average by a single 
family." 

This investigation also disclosed the following facts as regards 
nationality and population of the ward at that time. They found 
23,683 Germans, 13,411 Irish, 13,335 native born, 2535 persons from 
other countries, and 318 colored persons, i.e. only one-fourth of the 
inhabitants were native born, the remaining three-fourths being for- 
eigners. It was also ascertained that there were 10,284 children 
under five years of age in the ward, and 9299 children between the 
ages of 5 and 14 years, making a total of 19,583 children under 14 
years of age in the ward. The Association very properly remarks, 
" it would be important to know what proportion of these of suitable 
age are brought under proper mental and moral culture." 

The report also includes interesting facts as to the religious 
opportunities existent at that time in this part of the city. I have 
quoted in full these statements because they constitute the first 
scientific study of sociological conditions in the city of New York, 
and, although the inquiry was limited to a small neighborhood, yet 
the results obtained were of distinct value. 

Besides continuing their work of education of the public con- 
science, the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor 
formed in the year 1854 what was known as " The Workmen's Home 
Association." This was a company organized for the purpose of 
"erecting one or more model tenement houses for the laboring 
classes in order to solve the problem of providing commodious and 
well ventilated apartments supplied with most modern conveniences 
at a price within the means of the poorer classes, which should, if 
practicable, defray the expenses of the outlay, repairs, insurance, and 
keep good the capital invested." 

THE FIRST MODEL " TENEMENT 1855 

In the following year, 1855, this company erected a " model " 
tenement house known as the " Workmen's Home," situated on six 
lots, three having a frontage on Mott Street and three on Elizabeth 
Street, the building running through from street to street. The 
building was 53 feet wide and 188 feet deep, was six stories high and 



86 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

substantially built. It cost $60,000, and the land was valued at that 
time at $30,000 (these six lots at the present day are worth about 
$108,000). The building contained eighty-seven different suites of 
rooms, and provided accommodations for 348 persons. The staircases 
were fireproof, being iron with slate treads. Each apartment contained 
three rooms including a large-sized clothes closet. The rents varied 
from $5.50 to $8.50 per month for each apartment. The living rooms 
averaged in size 14 feet by 11 feet, the two bedrooms 8 feet by 7 feet, 
and the closet 8 feet by 4 feet, a dangerous size, as it could easily 
be used for a bedroom. Each family was supplied with Croton water 
and water-closets in the yard, and the halls were lighted with gas. 
In the description of the building we find this interesting statement, 
" Every room is well ventilated, having air flues from each to the 
roof." When one bears in mind that there were on each floor 
twenty-eight entirely dark and unventilated bedrooms, excepting 
such ventilation as might be obtained from the hallways, or from a 
flue about the thickness of one brick in one of the walls, this state- 
ment seems rather astonishing. 

The building was in the shape of a long parallelogram running 
through from street to street, having on one side a courtyard 22 feet 
wide by 188 feet long, also extending through from street to street 
and permitting ventilation of air ; and on the other side of the build- 
ing was a courtyard 100 feet long and a little over 5 feet wide ; 
opening upon this latter was the public corridor or hallway of the 
building, running its entire length. On the upper floors of the 
building were two large rooms set aside as a hall for lectures, concerts, 
or other social meetings. 

Such was the first " model " tenement house erected in New York 
City, and intended by its founders to provide proper living accommo- 
dations for the working people of the city. That a few years later 
this tenement house should degenerate into one of the worst in 
the city, has always been held up by the opponents of tene- 
ment house reform as a reason for not building model tenements. 
The reasons why this enterprise failed are very apparent. In 
the first place it was decided that the house should be occupied 
solely by colored persons. This meant, as it always does in this 
city, that the house never could be occupied by respectable white 
people afterward, there being the strongest possible feeling on 
the part of tenants in this respect, so that when the class of respect- 
able negroes moved away from that neighborhood it became abso- 
lutely hopeless to secure for the building tenants of the right kind. 
Again, it must be borne in mind that this building was built as a 
charity and owned in part by a charitable association, and that the 
temptation not to insist upon the prompt payment of rent must at 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 87 

times have been very strong. Indeed reports of the Association show 
that this was the case. Far more serious than this, however, was the 
plan of the building itself. It is hard to imagine how a worse plan 
could have been chosen. When we consider what has since been 
built on six city lots, or what easily could have been built then, it is 
amazing to think that any body of men could have been so blind- 
They actually copied the ground plan almost identically of notorious 
old " Gotham Court," the tenement house which they had held up to 
scorn in their report of two years previous. If they had merely 
copied it, the results would not have been so bad, but they actually 
did not put up as good a building. In " Gotham Court " the apart- 
ments were but two rooms deep, and each room opened on the outer air. 
In this Mott Street building the apartments were practically four 
rooms deep and only one in each suite opened directly on the outer 
air, two were dark and unventilated, and one opened on a public hall- 
way 9 feet wide, which hallway opened upon a court. Of course, 
many of the bad features of " Gotham Court," as to lack of plumbing 
and the sewers running under each courtyard or alley, were absent ; 
but, on the whole, the plan of " Gotham Court " building was far 
superior to the Mott Street so-called " model " tenements. 

THE FIRST LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION 1856 

One result of the disclosures made by this Association in 1853 
was the appointment by the State Legislature in 1856 of a com- 
mittee of their own members "to make an examination of the 
manner in which tenant houses are constructed in the city of 
New York, and report the same to the Legislature, and also what 
legislation, if any, is requisite and necessary in order to remedy the 
evils and offer full protection to the lives and health of the occupants 
of such buildings." This Committee, consisting of five members of 
the Assembly, Mr. A. J. H. Duganne, John M. Reed, Eli Curtis, 
William J. Shea, and Samuel Brevoort, visited New York City on 
March 14 and again on March 25 of that year, spending altogether 
seven days in a personal inspection of some of the best-known tenant 
houses in the city. 

In their report to the Legislature made on April 4, 1856, they 
stated that in the brief time allowed them for the investigation they 
had been able to do no more than glance at evils of such magnitude 
as to imperatively demand a thorough and searching scrutiny, and 
asked that their Committee be continued throughout the summer so 
that they might make a more thorough examination of the evils 
disclosed by their brief investigation, stating that the examination 
they had made had convinced them that the evils to be remedied 



88 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

were of a serious nature requiring the attention of the State Legis- 
lature, and demanding such action at the hands of the Assembly as 
would secure their ultimate removal. They further stated that 
" partial returns made up hurriedly by the captains of the police for 
the use of the Committee show that in twenty-two districts there are 
over 1200 tenement houses of the very lowest description occupied 
by no less than 10 families each. In some of these, as many as 70 
different families reside, and into a few over 100 families are crowded. 
In one building, 112 families are residing, some of them numbering 
8 and 10 members, occupying one close, unventilated apartment, 
and others huddled indiscriminately in damp, foul cellars, to breathe 
the air of which is to inhale disease. Here, in its very worst aspect 
are to be seen the horrors of such a mode of living. Here are to be 
found drunken and diseased men and women lying in the midst of 
their impurity and filth ; idiotic and crippled children suffering from 
neglect and ill treatment, girls just springing into womanhood living 
indiscriminately in the same apartment with men of all ages and of 
all colors ; babes left so destitute of care and nourishment as to be 
fitted only for a jail or hospital in after years if they escape the 
blessing of an early grave." 

In many localities the Committee found many of the apartments 
so destitute even of light as to render it an impossibility to read a 
newspaper, even though at noon time. Further, "in the houses 
visited by the Committee sights were presented to them alike star- 
tling and painful to behold. Young faces, haggard with want and 
sickness and bearing that peculiar look of premature old age im- 
parted by early sin, gazed at them from every corner ; misery and 
vice in their most repulsive features met them at every step. Scarcely 
an apartment was free from sickness and disease, and the blighting 
curse of drunkenness had fallen upon almost every family. Here 
and there might be found, it is true, some attempt at cleanliness, 
some display of a love of home, some evidences of industry and 
sobriety with their natural accompaniments of cheerfulness and good 
health." "But these," the Committee say, "in some instances were 
families that had not long been inhabitants of the neighborhood in 
which they lived, the demoralization and ruin apparent all around 
had not had time to do their work on them. It is to be feared the 
miasmal air will creep into their existence, undermining the sturdy 
constitutions and prostrating its victims on a bed of sickness ; health 
failing them, want will follow, and then must come crowding rapidly 
upon them neglect of home, neglect of children, uncleanliness, 
drunkenness, and crime." 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 89 



NEGLECT AND GREED THE REAL CAUSE OF BAD CONDITIONS 

The Committee says : " This is no fancy sketch, no picture of the 
imagination. It is a stern reality, enacted every day amid luxury 
and wealth, the natural and fearful result of the rapacity of the 
landlord in every crowded city, unrestrained by conscience, and 
wholly unchecked by legislation." 

These words, written forty-four years ago, sum up the causes of 
all our bad conditions in New York City to-day. The over-crowding, 
the poverty, the disease, the crime and vice, met with in New York 
in 1900, products of our tenement house system, have not come to 
us because of the narrow shape of Manhattan Island or of the lack 
of rapid transit, as has been claimed by superficial students of the 
subject for many years, but because of the primary neglect of the 
habitations of the poor of this city at a period when they could have 
been cared for in time. 

Had the Committee done nothing else beyond making this state- 
ment of the conditions of that time, our debt to them would have 
been very great. 

After setting forth in most striking language the conditions 
found by them in their very brief inspection of the tenant houses of 
New York City, and urging upon the Legislature the importance of 
continuing the work throughout the summer, so that a proper and 
well-considered plan of reform might be matured, the Committee 
pointed out that u to the wretched condition of the poor of New 
York can be traced an enormous proportion of the burdens imposed 
upon the property holders of the city, and upon the State at large, 
for the support of paupers and criminals. From the foul atmosphere 
of the tenement houses spring the infectious diseases that so fre- 
quently spread through the city, sweeping away their thousands of 
victims, and not confining their depredations to the class in which 
they originate, but penetrating into the localities occupied by the 
wealthy, and rendering desolate many a household. Hundreds upon 
hundreds of paupers pour into the hospitals stricken by disease con- 
tracted in those hotbeds of pestilence, the tenement houses, and 
from them drunkenness mainly receives its victims, for what will 
sooner drive a man to the intoxicating cup than the absence of all 
attraction and all comforts from his home ? " " It is no idle assertion 
to say that a reform by which the condition of the homes of the 
poor could be improved would remove a large proportion of the 
criminals from our prisons and the paupers from our almshouses." 

The practical results which the Committee hoped to secure 
through legislative action, and to which they stated their inquiries 
would be directed through the summer were : 



90 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

1. Ventilation and cleanliness in tenement houses so that the 
public health might be protected, the spread of infectious diseases 
checked, and the expenses of the public hospitals and almshouses 
decreased. 

2. An enactment against the renting of underground apartments 
or cellars as tenements. 

3. Regulations as to the building of halls and stairways in 
houses occupied by more than three families, so as to insure easy 
egress in case of fire. 

4. The prevention of prostitution and incest, by providing that 
only a sufficient number of rooms, or a room properly divided into 
separate apartments, should be rented to families ; and by prohibit- 
ing subletting. 

5. The prevention of drunkenness by providing to every man a 
clean and comfortable home. 

It is extremely instructive to find that the Committee had become 
so interested in the tenement house question, that notwithstanding 
the failure of the Legislature to continue their work throughout the 
summer, the members of the Committee, of their own accord, upon 
their own responsibility, and at their own personal expense, decided 
to continue this work, rendering to the next Legislature, in March, 
1857, their report and conclusions. This document constitutes the 
report of the first legislative commission of inquiry on this subject 
in America. 

SEPARATE TENEMENT HOUSE DEPARTMENT URGED 

If space allowed me I would quote at great length from this 
document because the conclusions reached by the Commission are so 
sound, the descriptions of the conditions they discovered are so able, 
and the whole paper couched in language that is not only forcible 
but convincing. Accompanying their report, they submitted to the 
Legislature a bill entitled " An Act to Improve the Condition of the 
Laboring Poor Residing in Tenant Houses in the City of New York, 
to Establish a Board of Home Commissioners in said City, and for 
other Purposes." The bill provided for a Board of Commissioners 
to consist of three citizens of New York who " should have power at 
any time between sunrise and sunset to visit, or cause to be visited, 
any tenant house ordinarily used as a common dwelling or lodging 
for three or more families transiently occupying the same ; and also 
to have power to enter and inspect, and properly examine all rooms, 
courts, alleys, yards, and cellars used for such transient tenancy as 
aforesaid." If in the opinion of such Board, or any two of the Com- 
missioners, after personal inspection, any such tenant house, rooms, 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 91 

or premises were found to be unfit for the purpose of residence by 
reason of dampness, darkness, dirt, filthiness or too low ceilings, ill ven- 
tilation, being underground, or any other good cause, the Commission 
was authorized to serve a notice upon the owner, agent, or lessee of 
the property, directing the premises to be put in proper order and con- 
dition within a specified time. And it was further provided that such 
house, rooms, or premises should be deemed to be untenantable and 
forbidden to be occupied for dwelling or lodging purposes until such 
directions or orders of said Commissioners be complied with. The 
Commissioners were further required to keep registered lists of the 
different tenant houses in each ward, of the number of tenants and 
lodgers occupying each of said houses, designating the age, sex, color, 
and occupation or employment of each person ; also the number of 
children between the ages of six and fourteen not in attendance on 
any school, and of the occupation of such children, and the Commis- 
sioners were empowered to examine witnesses upon oath in reference 
to this matter. They were further empowered to keep a record of 
all lottery or policy shops, grocery stores, liquor stores, etc. 

Among their other powers, they were authorized to direct and 
compel the owner, agent, lessee, or keeper of any tenant house to 
thoroughly cleanse all the rooms, passages, stairs, floors, windows, 
doors, walls, ceilings, etc., to the satisfaction of the Commission ; 
and the owners or lessees of tenant houses were prohibited from 
subletting any part of their premises except with the consent of the 
Board of Home Commissioners. No compensation was to be paid 
to the Commissioners for their services, but their expenses were to 
be paid, and they were to be provided with a proper clerical force, 
and were required to render a report to the Legislature each year as 
to the work accomplished by them. 

This carefully thought-out scheme for a permanent body whose 
sole duty should be the care and regulation of the tenement houses 
of the city, here enunciated for the first time, was unfortunately not 
adopted by the Legislature. There has never been made any 
recommendation which would have so reached the root of the whole 
problem as this proposition of the Assembly Investigation Committee 
of 1856. 

Since this report was made forty-three years have elapsed. Con- 
ditions in many respects are the same in New York City as they 
were in 1857, only the extent of them has increased tenfold. I 
believe that the real solution of the tenement house problem will be 
found in the creation of a separate Tenement House Department of 
the city government, devoting its entire time to the care and super- 
vision of such buildings, and predict that until that step is taken 
we can expect little real benefit to result. 



92 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

Interest in this question aroused spasmodically every ten years 
and then allowed to flag is not calculated to secure beneficial results 
or much progress toward improved conditions. The subject is suffi- 
ciently large and difficult to require the constant and continuous 
thought and study of the best minds. 

Although the labors of this Commission did not produce imme- 
diate results, the Association for Improving the Condition of the 
Poor, which had waged its fight for better tenements since 1846, did 
not give up the battle. From 1857 to 1864 they continued their 
campaign of education, from time to time calling the attention of the 
community to the condition of affairs, petitioning both the Legisla- 
ture and the Common Council to enact laws and ordinances to 
remedy the evil conditions which had been growing steadily worse 
year by year. 

THE MOVEMENT OF 1864 THE COUNCIL OF HYGIENE 

Not, however, till the first-fruits of thirty years of municipal 
neglect had been gathered in the terrible " draft riots " of 1863, did 
the community become aroused to the dangers of the evils which 
surrounded them. When in those troublous times, during our Civil 
War, the tenements poured forth the mobs that held fearful sway in 
the city, during the outbreak of violence in the month of July, then, 
for the first time, did the general public realize what it meant to 
permit human beings to be reared under the conditions which had so 
long prevailed in the tenement houses in New York City. 

Mr. N. P. Willis, a leading journalist, writing at that time, thus 
describes the impression made upon him by the sight of these per- 
sons : " The high brick blocks of closely packed houses where the 
mobs originated seemed to be literally hives of sickness and vice. 
It was wonderful to see and difficult to believe that so much misery, 
disease, and wretchedness could be huddled together and hidden by 
high walls, un visited and unthought of so near our own abodes. 
Lewd but pale and sickly young women, scarcely decent in their 
ragged attire, were impudent, and scattered everywhere in the 
courts. What numbers of these poorer classes are deformed, what 
numbers are made hideous by self-neglect and infirmity ! Alas, 
human faces look so hideous with hope and self-respect all gone, and 
familiar forms and features are made so frightful by sin, squalor, and 
debasement ! To walk the streets as we walked them in those hours 
of conflagration and riot was like witnessing the day of judgment, 
with every wicked thing revealed, every sin and sorrow blazingly 
glared upon, every hidden abomination laid before hell's expectant 
fire." 




"PERPETUAL FEVER NESTS " WASHINGTON STREET TENEMENTS, 1864. 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 93 

Heeding this warning, some few months later, in the spring of 
1864, the leading citizens of New York formed themselves into what 
was known as the " Citizens' Association " for the purpose of taking 
steps to improve the sanitary condition of the city. The alarmingly 
high death-rate of New York at that time (there being one death 
in every thirty-five of the inhabitants) became a subject of the 
most careful thought and investigation. Accordingly, the Citizens' 
Association formed a subcommittee known as the Council of 
Hygiene and Public Health, which included the leading physicians 
of the city. This Council of Hygiene organized in the month 
of April in the year 1864, and at once determined to under- 
take a complete and thorough sanitary investigation of the entire 
city. The city, which at that time was coincident with Manhattan 
Island, was divided into twenty-nine districts ; an experienced physi- 
cian was appointed as sanitary inspector in each ward, and during a 
period of nine months the most thorough, complete, and scientific 
sanitary inspection ever made of any city was made of the city of 
New York. This investigation embraced a description of the char- 
acter of the soil throughout each district, the number of buildings, 
the purposes for which they were used, whether business buildings, 
churches, schools, dwellings, or tenement houses ; whether built of 
brick, stone, iron, or wood ; the character of the streets, how paved, 
and whether provided with sewers. The " tenant houses " were a 
subject of special investigation in every district ; the most notorious 
ones were fully described, not only as to their construction, but as to 
the character of the people living in them, the sickness prevailing, 
the death-rate in each, including nearly every conceivable detail. 
In addition to these investigations there were recorded the number 
of vacant lots, the number of liquor stores, brothels, stores for the 
sale of food, the number of stables, the influence of stables upon 
disease, the prevalence of preventable diseases in the districts, 
infantile diseases and mortality, and the excessive crowding of 
houses upon the lots. Seldom has a piece of social or sanitary 
work been better done. 

In addition to these detailed reports, the Council of Hygiene had 
prepared for them a map showing the nature of the soil throughout 
the entire city, as well as the underground streams and water- 
courses. This monumental work of General Egbert L. Viele has 
been of incalculable value to the city. There was also presented a 
map of the entire fourth ward, showing the exact arrangement of 
every building in each block throughout the ward, giving the 
amount of land occupied, the shape of the building, the height in 
stories, the number of families occupying it, the number of persons, 
also whether certain contagious diseases had prevailed there during 



94 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

that year, and indicating also the location of the different liquor 
stores in each neighborhood. Thanks to the foresight of Dr. Ezra 
R. Pulling, inspector of this district, we thus have to-day a means 
of comparing conditions as they were in 1864 with conditions as they 
exist now in 1900. Besides these maps and diagrams, the report 
published by the Council of Hygiene contains a number of photo- 
graphs showing some of the worst tenement conditions at that time, 
and also some of the other sanitary evils which then existed. This 
report constitutes a volume of more than 360 pages, and is unques- 
tionably the most comprehensive and valuable study of this kind 
that has ever been made. 



THE FIRST TENEMENT HOUSE LAW 1867 

As a result of the disclosures made by the Council of Hygiene in 
1865 came the first legislative action in regard to tenement houses- 
in this country. The first step was the establishment of the Metro- 
politan Board of Health in 1866, and one year later, in 1867, the 
enactment of the tenement house law. This act, after defining a 
tenement house as " Any house, building, or portion thereof which 
is rented, leased, let, or hired out to be occupied, or is occupied, as 
the home or residence of more than three families living indepen- 
dently of one another, and doing their own cooking upon the premises, 
or by more than two families upon a floor, so living and cooking and 
having a common right in the halls, stairways, yards, water-closets, 
or privies, or some of them," provided that no building should be 
used as a tenement house unless every sleeping room had a ventila- 
tor or transom window of an area of 3 square feet over the door con- 
necting with the adjoining room or with the outer air ; that every 
such house should be provided with a proper fire-escape to be 
approved by the Building Inspector ; that the roof over the main 
hall should be provided with a proper ventilator ; and that it should 
be kept in good repair and not allowed to leak, and that all stairs 
should be provided with proper banisters; also that every house 
should be provided with good and sufficient water-closets or privies, 
and that there should not be less than 1 to every 20 occupants, and 
that where there was a sewer in the street in front of such a house, 
the privies or closets should be connected with the sewer ; that no 
cesspool should be allowed in connection with a tenement house un- 
less where it was unavoidable ; that the yards of all new tenement 
houses should be graded and drained, and connected with the sewer; 
that no basement or cellar rooms should be occupied without a per- 
mit from the Board of Health, and that, even then, such rooms 
should not be occupied unless 7 feet in height from the floor to the 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 95 

ceiling, and also 1 foot of the height above the surface of the ground 
adjoining the same, nor unless there was an open area properly 
drained, 2 feet 6 inches wide, extending along the front of the room, 
nor unless the room had an external window opening of at least 9 
square feet. It was further provided that no underground room 
should be occupied for sleeping purposes without a written permit 
from the Board of Health. All tenement houses were also required 
to be provided with proper receptacles for garbage and other refuse, 
and the storage of combustible material was prohibited, as was the 
keeping of animals, except dogs and cats. All tenements were further 
required to be kept free from accumulations of dirt and filth and 
garbage at all times. The name and address of the owner of every 
tenement house was also required to be posted in a conspicuous place 
in each building. The health officers were to have free access to 
such buildings at all times, and the Board of Health was authorized 
to have vacated buildings that were unfit for habitation by reason of 
being infected with disease or likely to cause sickness among the 
occupants, or dangerous from want of repair. The law further pro- 
vided that where there was a front and rear building to be erected 
on the same lot, there should be a clear, open space between the 
buildings if they were one story high, of 10 feet ; 15 feet, if they 
were two stories high ; 20 feet, if they were three stories high ; and 
25 feet, if they were more than three stories high ; also that at the rear 
of every new tenement house there should be a clear open space of 
10 feet between it and any other building, but, unfortunately, discre- 
tion was given to the Board of Health to modify these requirements 
as to the amount of space when they saw fit. The law also provided 
that every habitable room should be at least 8 feet high, except 
rooms in attics, and that every habitable room should have at least 
one window connected with the external air, or, over the door, a ven- 
tilator leading into the hall, or into another room having connection 
with the external air ; also that the total area of windows in every 
room communicating with the external air should be at least one- 
tenth of the superficial area of the room; also that every habitable 
room of a less area than 100 square feet which did not communicate 
directly with the external air and did not have an open fireplace 
should be provided with a separate ventilating flue. Every new 
tenement house was required also to have a chimney or open fire- 
place running through every floor of the building, and for each set 
of rooms. New tenements were also required to have proper recep- 
tacles for ashes and rubbish, and running water was to be furnished 
at one or more places in the house or in the yard. Cellars were 
required to be cemented so as to be water-tight, and the halls on 
each floor were required to be so arranged as to open directly to the 



96 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

outer air. A violation of the act was made a misdemeanor, punish- 
able by a fine of not less than $10 or more than $100, or by imprison- 
ment for not more than ten days for each day that the violation 
continued, or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion 
of the court. 

The Board of Health was also given power to make further 
regulations as to cellars and as to ventilation. 

During the same year an important amendment to the existing 
building laws of the city was passed, and in it were requirements 
relating to tenement houses. These concerned themselves chiefly 
with the method of construction of such buildings with regard to 
dangers from fire. Among other things, it was provided that no 
front and rear tenements should be erected on the same lot unless they 
were both fireproof throughout ; also, that every building of such a 
character should be provided with a proper fire-escape ; that the hall 
partitions from cellar to roof should be built of brick not less than 
12 inches thick; that the floor beams should be of iron, and that 
the stairs should be fireproof. It was further required that where 
the first floor of such a building was used for business purposes of 
any kind, the first floor should be constructed fireproof, with iron 
beams and brick flooring, and that all coal-bins and wood-bins in the 
cellars of such houses should be built of fireproof material. 

It will be seen from this summary of the provisions of the law 
that, while many important questions had been provided for, the 
framers of the law had unfortunately lost sight of several important 
features of the tenement house problem, i.e. they had not enacted a 
provision restricting the percentage of the lot permitted to be occu- 
pied by such buildings. This was a defect in the law, as was also 
the careless phrasing of the provision requiring a space of 10 feet 
to be left at the rear of tenement houses. The law was so worded 
that this space was to be left between the rear of a new tenement 
house and any other building ; the result was that, where there was 
no building in existence immediately behind the lot owned by the 
tenement house builder, he could build his building up to the entire 
lot limit. Not until twelve years later, in 1879, was this defect in 
the law remedied, by providing that there should be a space of 10 
feet between the rear of every new tenement house and the rear line 
of the lot upon which the tenement was built. 

When one considers that there were, in 1867, 15,000 tenement 
houses erected before the passage of any tenement house law, with- 
out regard to the safety or health of the occupants, one begins to 
realize the magnitude of the task which confronted the newly 
organized Board of Health. The reports of the Association for 
Improving the Condition of the Poor for the following five years 




TOWER BUILDINGS. 




INTERIOR COURT OR PARK. 
MR. WHITE'S MODEL TENEMENTS BROOKLYN, 1879. 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 97 

show a decided improvement in the tenern'ant houses of the city, 
especially in regard to cellar dwellings a.id to the general sanitary 
condition of buildings, the Sanitary Police being able to enforce 
greater cleanliness than had heretofore existed. While the new law 
had remedied certain defects, ar-1 had to a certain extent improved 
existing tenement houses, yet It soon became evident that it did not 
meet the conditions in such a way as to secure good types of build- 
ings among those newly erected. 

In 1871 we find the following statement in the report of the 
Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor for that year : 
" The tenant house system might be indefinitely enlarged upon, but 
space forbids. Though greatly improved in late years, it is still the 
disgrace and curse of the city, that half of the inhabitants live in 
this class of houses, from which proceeds three-fifths of the crime 
and three-fourths of the mortality. If we would abate these evils, 
the wretched domiciliary conditions of the occupants of these tene- 
ments must be improved." 

THE MOVEMENT OF 1879 MR. WHITE'S MODEL TENEMENTS 

Between this time and 1877 little attention was given to the 
tenement house problem, except in the regular work of the Board of 
Health and the city Building Department. 

In 1877 Mr. Alfred T. White, of Brooklyn, having seen the 
model tenements of Sir Sidney Waterlow's Industrial Dwellings 
Company in London, became imbued with the idea that the best 
way in which he could benefit the working people of New York City, 
or of his own city of Brooklyn, was by providing them with decent, 
comfortable homes. He accordingly built his well-known " Home 
Buildings" in Brooklyn, upon plans similar to those of the Improved 
Industrial Dwellings Company of London, and one year later, 
directly opposite, built an entire block of similar model tenements, 
with a large park or courtyard in the centre. From the time they 
were built these tenements have always been a success, both socially 
and financially. Wide publicity was given to this extraordinarily 
successful experiment of Mr. White's, the result being that great 
interest was stimulated in the tenement house problem. It was 
well that such interest was aroused at this time, as the public atten- 
tion had been allowed to flag during the previous ten years. Mr. 
White lectured before the Social Science Association, sermons were 
preached in the different churches upon the subject, and the public 
press gave the greatest amount of attention to this important 
topic. 

The educational work undertaken by the Association for Im- 



98 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

proving the Condition of the Poor in 1846, and carried on so success- 
fully by them until 1871, was now taken up by another charitable 
society, namely, the State Charities Aid Association, formed in 
1873. This Society, through its Standing Committee, " On the 
Elevation of the Poor in Their Homes," in 1877, again called at- 
tention to the need of reform, and leading architects of the city 
were asked to send in plans for improved tenement houses, so that 
the best intelligence of the community might be got to work upon 
the problem. It appears that at this time there were in New York 
City 25,000 tenement houses, and that the excessive mortality and 
sickness in the city at that time was held to be mainly due to the 
defective system of tenement house life. 

On the 6th of December a conference of those interested in the 
subject was called by this Society, at which Mr. Alfred T. White 
described to them the very successful results accomplished by his 
model tenements in Brooklyn, which had earned 7J per cent, net, 
during the first year of their existence ; also the successful results 
accomplished in London by the different model tenement house com- 
panies there were presented. At the meeting a special committee 
was appointed to " consider the question of improved houses for the 
poor in New York City, with authority to secure the incorporation 
of a company under the best legal advice to erect such houses." 
This committee rendered a report in April, 1878, stating that they 
had not found it desirable to recommend the building of model 
tenements at that time, but that they did recommend a thorough 
investigation and discussion of existing tenements, hoping that some- 
thing might be done toward reforming them, and believing that it 
was much to be desired that public opinion should be enlightened 
as to the evils and dangers resulting to the whole city from the 
existence of many of the present tenements, and the urgent need of 
a more rigid enforcement of the laws already existing concerning 
them, and, further, a more thorough legislation that might uproot 
the evil, instead of merely repressing its growth. 

This Committee held frequent meetings and made personal 
inspection of many of the tenement houses in the city, employing 
a special agent to make a detailed examination of certain typical 
tenement houses. 

In January of the following year, a subcommittee was appointed 
to induce the clergy of the city to take up the question of tenement 
house reform and to preach on this subject on a Sunday to be agreed 
upon. The Sunday of February 23, 1879, was set aside as " Tene- 
ment House Sunday," and the leading ministers of the city delivered 
addresses upon the evils of the tenement house system and the neces- 
sity for reform. It was decided by the State Charities Aid Associa- 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 99 

tion that a large public meeting of all classes was desirable to bring 
home to the community the importance of this subject. Accordingly 
such a meeting was held in Cooper Union on February 28, many 
of New York's leading citizens being present and speaking. At 
this meeting Mayor Cooper, who presided, appointed a subcommittee 
of nine members, known as the " Mayor's Committee," for the pur- 
pose of devising measures to carry tenement house reform into 
effect. The following gentlemen were members of this committee : 
Messrs. D. Willis James, Frederick W. Stevens, W. W. Astor, 
Cornelius Vanderbilt, R. T. Auchmuty, James Gallatin, Henry E. 
Pellew, F. D. Tappen, and C. P. Daly. 

The Committee rendered its report about one month later, mak- 
ing it public on March 25. They proposed two plans, one charita- 
ble, the other commercial, recommending the formation of a company 
to build model tenement houses upon a business basis, similar to the 
tenements so successfully built and managed by Mr. Alfred T. 
White, in Brooklyn. They further recommended radical changes 
in the existing tenement house law, and it is extremely interesting 
to find that they strongly urged a provision calling for the licensing 
of tenement houses, a provision somewhat in the line of that urged 
by the First Legislative Investigating Commission in 1856, twenty- 
three years previously. This important and desirable clause, how- 
ever, was stricken out by the Legislature. 

As a result of the recommendations of the Committee of Nine, 
the Improved Dwellings Association was formed with a capital of 
1300,000. Mr. W. Bayard Cutting was elected President of this 
Association, and Mr. Samuel D. Babcock, Treasurer. The Associa- 
tion was strictly a commercial enterprise, but with dividends limited 
to 5 per cent. Several lots of land were purchased on First Avenue, 
from 71st to 72d Streets, and an excellent group of buildings, some- 
what similar in plan to Mr. White's Brooklyn buildings, was erected. 
These are still in good condition to-day, twenty-one years later, and 
have paid in all that time, regularly, 5 per cent dividends, besides 
reserving a slight amount for a depreciation fund. The Committee of 
Nine also recommended the formation of a permanent society to carry 
on the work of tenement house reform, and the New York Sanitary 
Reform Society was thus incorporated, with Mr. James Gallatin as 
president. 

THE NEW TENEMENT HOUSE LAW 1879 

Of greater importance, however, than either of these steps were 
the changes in the tenement house law accomplished as a result of 
this agitation. For the first time the percentage of lot permitted 
to be occupied by a new tenement house was limited, the new law 



100 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

requiring that no new tenement house should occupy more than 
65 per cent of the lot. Unfortunately, however, a clause was 
inserted, giving the Board of Health permission in special cases to 
modify this provision. Had not this unfortunate discretionary 
clause been inserted, there would have resulted real reform in the 
character of the tenement houses erected in this city. The result 
of the discretionary clause was, as it has always been in New York 
it practically nullified the whole effect of the law, and in a few 
years the Board of Health was found to be permitting new tene- 
ments to occupy as much as 85, and even 90, per cent of the lot. 

The new law also remedied the defect of the former, in reference 
to the amount of space to be left at the rear of a tenement house, 
putting it into clear, legal verbiage. At the same time, the act 
established thirty sanitary policemen under the supervision of the 
Board of Health, and created a tenement house fund of 810,000 to 
be appropriated annually and to be spent by the Board of Health 
for the sanitary inspection of tenement houses. The law also wisely 
provided that no room in a tenement house should be used for sleep- 
ing, unless it had at least one window of a size of 12 square feet 
opening directly on the public street or yard, but again, unfortu- 
nately, the Board of Health was given discretionary power in this 
respect, it being added, " unless sufficient light and ventilation shall 
be otherwise provided in a manner approved by the Board of Health," 
the result of which was to practically nullify this provision. The 
other main features of the law of 1867 were reenacted. 

Coincident with this agitation for tenement house reform, started 
by the State Charities Aid Association in 1877, was a similar move- 
ment carried on by the Association for Improving the Condition of 
the Poor, which, in 1878, took up again the work that it had aban- 
doned in 1871, in a series of admirable reports and pamphlets, call- 
ing attention to the great importance of reform in the dwellings of 
the poor ; nor did it confine itself to this additional work of describ- 
ing existing conditions, but started also a more active personal 
inspection of the tenement houses of the city, sending complaints 
to the Board of Health of violations of the law, and doing everything 
in its power to compel the authorities to secure the proper enforce- 
ment of the statutes. 

This work they continued off and on from 1878 until 1884, the 
time of the next large agitation for tenement house reform. 

THE TENEMENT HOUSE COMPETITION, 1879 THE "DUMB-BELL" 

PLAN 

In December of 1878, Mr. Henry C. Meyer, at that time the pro- 
prietor of the newspaper known as the Sanitary Engineer, and who 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 101 



was much interested in this movement, in connection with Messrs. 
D. Willis James, F. B. Thurber, Henry E. Pellew, and Robert Gor- 
don, offered prizes of $500 for the best architectural designs for a 
tenement house on an ordinary city lot, 25 feet wide by 100 feet deep. 
A special programme setting forth the conditions of this architec- 
tural competition was printed in the Sanitary Engineer, and the fol- 
lowing gentlemen were appointed a jury of award to determine the 
merits of the different plans : Mr. R. S. Hatfield, architect; Professor 
Charles F. Chandler, President of the Board of 
Health ; Rev. John Hall, Rev. Henry C. Potter, 
and Robert Hoe. 

No less than 190 architects from all parts of 
the United States, and even from Canada and 
Great Britain, sent in plans in competition. 
These plans, numbering 206, were placed on free 
exhibition and attracted widespread interest. 
Many of the plans were reproduced in the papers 
at that time, and the Sanitary Engineer, the 
journal which had inaugurated the competition 
and had authorized the prizes, printed an elabo- 
rate series of articles, reproducing the ten leading 
plans and describing the merits of each in detail. 
The first prize was awarded to Mr. James E. 
Ware, and from this time dates the introduction 
into the tenement house system of New York 
City of what is known as the "double-decker 
dumb-bell tenement," so called because of the 
shape of the outline of the building, which in 
the middle tapers in, very much like the handle 
of a dumb-bell. 

This is the type of tenement house which to- 
day is the curse of our city. Many people have 
pointed out that what was considered a model 
tenement in 1879 is in 1900 considered one of the THE DuM ^ LL PLAN 
worst types of tenement houses ever constructed. 
Had these people studied more thoroughly the movement for tenement 
house reform, they would have found that in 1879 there was almost uni- 
versal condemnation of the award of the prize to this type of building. 
In this connection, it is not inappropriate to quote part of an editorial 
from the New York Times, dated March 16, 1879. "The prizes 
offered by a committee of gentlemen appointed by the proprietor of 
the Sanitary Engineer have been conferred upon the designers of 
tenement house plans. The limitations of the designs by the archi- 
tects were the shape of the lots, and cheapness of construction ; 




102 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

they were required to plan a cheap house or houses with air and 
light in the rooms, on a lot 25 feet broad, enclosed between other 
houses, and 100 feet deep. If the prize plans are the best 
offered, which we hardly believe, they merely demonstrate that the 
problem is insoluble. The three which have received the highest 
prizes offer a very slightly better arrangement than hundreds of tene- 
ment houses now do. They are simply double houses, front and rear,, 
with the space between occupied by halls and water-closets. They 
have all the disadvantages of double houses, which have so often 
called forth sanitary censure and even adverse legislation. The only 
access to air, apart from the front, is through the courts in the small 
spaces between the houses. To add to their ill effects each suite on 
the second story has apparently that old nuisance, a dark bedroom, 
which, under the present arrangement, is a prolific source of fever and 
disease. The only advantages offered apparently over the old sys- 
tem are in the fireproof stairways, more privacy of halls, and the 
ventilation of water-closets. But it may be fairly said that if one 
of our crowded wards were built up after any one of these prize 
designs, the evils of our present tenement house system would be 
increased tenfold." 

How true this prophecy of 1879 was, we to-day fully realize, for 
we are reaping the evils of that system of the prize plan of 1879, 
built all over the crowded wards of this city ; and, iti truth, the 
evils that threatened the city in 1879 have been increased tenfold. 
It is this plan which has produced a system of tenement houses 
unknown to any other city, which has produced the evil of the air 
shaft, a product solely of New York, and one which makes our 
housing conditions the worst in the world: 

After this movement of 1879 had accomplished a change in the 
existing law and the building of two model tenements, those inter- 
ested in the problem apparently relaxed their efforts, feeling that 
what they had sought to accomplish had been accomplished. Noth- 
ing of importance was done in this movement from that }^ear until 
1884, except that the Association for Improving the Condition of the 
Poor still continued its inspection of existing tenement houses, and 
its system of sending complaints to the Board of Health, trying to 
spur that body into a more energetic enforcement of the laws. 

SECOND LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION 1884 

In 1884 Professor Felix Adler, of the Society for Ethical Cul- 
ture, delivered a series of lectures upon the terrible condition of the 
tenement houses at that time ; his own work and the work of mem- 
bers of his society among the poor in the city having given him an 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 103 

insight into the wretched condition of their dwellings. This series 
of lectures created great interest in the public press, and the com- 
munity became thoroughly roused to the necessity for reform in this 
direction. Accordingly, a bill was introduced in the Legislature and 
passed on June 2, 1884, appointing a commission "to examine and 
to investigate and inquire into the character and condition of tene- 
ment houses, lodging houses, and cellars in the city of New York." 
This commission was composed of the following gentlemen : Alex- 
ander Shaler, Joseph W. Drexel, S. O. Vanderpoel, Felix Adler, 
Oswald Ottendorfer, Moreau Morris, Anthony Reichardt, Joseph J. 
O'Donohue, Abbot Hodgman, Charles F. Wingate, and William P. 
Esterbrook. 

The Commission made an investigation of a number of the tene- 
ment houses in New York, from June of that year until the follow- 
ing January, making in its report to the Legislature twenty distinct 
recommendations. These included : 

The abolition of all privy vaults ; a change in the law extending 
the requirements for new tenement houses to all old buildings, altered 
to be used as tenement houses ; that water should be supplied upon each 
floor of every tenement house ; that every tenement house occupied 
by eight families or more should have a janitor residing upon the prem- 
ises ; that all cellars should be concreted ; that rooms and halls in all 
new tenement houses should have direct light, and communication 
with the external air ; that the definition of a tenement house should be 
so amended as to include all houses occupied by three families or more ; 
that the misuse of water-closets by the tenants should be deemed a 
misdemeanor ; that the Board of Health be required to make a semi- 
annual inspection of all the tenement houses in the city ; that the 
number of sanitary policemen should be increased from thirty to 
forty, and their duties limited entirely to the inspection of tenement 
and lodging houses ; that the name and address of the owner of 
every tenement house should be filed in the Department of Health; 
that there be set aside a special fund for the use of the Board of Health; 
that a registrar of statistics for the Board of Health be appointed ; 
that the Board of Health be required to make an annual report of 
its work to the Mayor ; and that a permanent Tenement House Com- 
mission, composed of the Mayor and the heads of the Departments of 
Health, Public Works, Buildings, and Street Cleaning be appointed, 
to meet once each year to consider the desirability of change in the 
tenement house laws ; also that certain streets in the city be opened 
up so as to do away with Mulberry Bend, a notorious " slum " district; 
and that free public baths be established by the city throughout the 
tenement house districts ; and that electric lights be placed in all 
streets of such quarters. 



104 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

The Commission published a report of some 235 pages, containing 
not only these recommendations, with the reasons for them, but also 
the results of a sanitary inspection of nearly a thousand tenement 
houses carried on under their direction. 

The Commission, however, did not take up the larger phases of 
the problem, believing that the time allowed them for such a study 
was not sufficient, and believing that the Legislature would appoint 
a further commission to undertake this work. 

During the same year, the Association for Improving the Condi- 
tion of the Poor took advantage of the increased public interest in 
the subject and published in their annual report, in a somewhat pop- 
ular form, a detailed description of some of the worst tenement 
houses in the city, illustrating these with pictures. 

THE LAW AMENDED IN 1887 

The recommendations made by the Tenement House Commission 
of 1884 to the Legislature did not, however, result in legislation 
until 1887, when the Tenement House Law was amended in several 
important particulars, the main change being the increasing of the 
number of sanitary police from thirty to forty-five, fifteen of these 
to spend their time in the inspection of tenement houses exclusively. 
The new law also provided for a permanent Tenement House Com- 
mission, to meet once in each year to discuss the needs of tenement 
houses, the Commission to be composed of the Mayor and the heads 
of the Departments of Health, Public Works, and Street Cleaning. 
The law also provided that, in all tenement houses where there was 
more than one family on a floor and the halls did not open directly 
to the outer air, such buildings should not be used. Among the 
other changes accomplished was a provision that there should be one 
water-closet for every fifteen occupants, instead of one for every 
twenty occupants, as under the previous law. Also, the owners of 
all tenement houses were required to file their names and addresses 
annually in the Board of Health, and the Board of Health was re- 
quired to make a regular semiannual inspection of every tenement 
house in the city. An important feature of the law was the extend- 
ing of the provision in relation to new tenement houses, as to the 
percentage of lot permitted to be occupied, to all old buildings that 
might be altered to be used as tenement houses. 

From 1884 until 1894 nothing was done in the movement for 
tenement house reform beyond the usual work of the Association 
for Improving the Condition of the Poor in sending complaints of 
sanitary abuses in certain tenement houses to the Board of Health 
for their attention. 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 105 



THE WORK OF JACOB A. RIIS 

Any record of the movement for tenement house reform in New 
York which left out of account the work of Mr. Jacob A. Riis, 
would be sadly defective. For over twenty years Mr. Riis has con- 
tinually waged his "battle with the slum." Beginning in 1880 as a 
newspaper reporter stationed at police headquarters, his work led 
him frequently into the tenement house districts, where he gained 
an intimate knowledge of the conditions. Since that time Mr. Riis 
has continuously urged the necessity of tenement house reform, and 
of the betterment of all the conditions of life for the working people 
of this city. His articles in the magazines and newspapers, espe- 
cially his well-known books, "How the Other Half Lives," "The Chil- 
dren of the Poor," and " A Ten Years' War," have probably done 
more to educate the general public on this question than the writ- 
ings of any other person. To his active efforts are due the tearing 
down of the worst slum New York City ever saw, the old " Mul- 
berry Bend," and also the destruction of a number of unsanitary 
rear tenements. 

THE THIRD LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION 1894 

In 1894 one of the New York newspapers, the Press, printed a 
series of articles upon the condition of the tenements, and caused 
to be introduced in the Legislature a bill authorizing the Governor 
to appoint a commission to inquire into all the phases of the tene- 
ment house problem. Through the efforts of the Press this bill 
became a law, and the following Commissioners were appointed: 
Richard Watson Gilder, Chairman ; W. D'H. Washington, Cyrus 
Edson, Roger Foster, Solomon Moses, George B. Post, and John P. 
Schuchman, Edward Marshall, the Sunday editor of the Press, 
through whose efforts this legislation had been accomplished, being 
appointed Secretary and executive officer of the Commission. The 
Commission organized in May of that year and entered upon an 
active and vigorous investigation of the tenement houses of the 
city throughout the summer and fall, giving especial attention to 
cellar dwellings, examining in all 8441 houses. The Commission 
published in 1895 a voluminous and elaborate report of some 650 
pages, showing the results of their investigation. The report touches 
upon the questions of immigration, density of population, over crowd- 
ing, different types of tenement house plans, questions of fireproof 
construction, death-rates, etc., pays especial attention to those tene- 
ment houses known as rear tenements, i.e. buildings built on the 
rear of the lot behind a front tenement house, with an intervening 



106 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

courtyard of about 25 feet between ; also the subordinate public 
questions of the need of public parks in tenement neighborhoods, 
the need of dock parks or recreation piers, the need of public baths, 
the questions of rentals, of improved tenement houses erected by 
philanthropic or quasi-philanthropic societies, the work of the pre- 
vious Commission appointed in 1884, the evils of prostitution in 
tenement houses, questions of plumbing and sanitation ; and paid 
special attention to the great danger arising from tenement fires, 
making minute examination of the fires that occurred while the Com- 
mission was in existence, and taking- a great deal of testimony on 
this subject, and on other subjects connected with the different 
phases of the tenement house problem. The report contains a num- 
ber of illustrations of different types of tenement house plans, also 
photographs of certain bad tenement conditions found by the Com- 
mission, as well as many interesting maps and charts. 

The Commission made to the Legislature the following recom- 
mendations : 

1. That the law be perfected so as to give to the Board of Health 
unquestioned power to condemn and destroy tenement houses unfit 
for human habitation. 

2. That the percentage of lot allowed to be covered by new tene- 
ment houses be limited to 70 per cent ; also that no more air shafts 
be covered over by the roof. That the first floor of all new tene- 
ment houses should be fireproof and contain no openings to the cel- 
lar ; that every water-closet should have a window to the outer air, 
and that the floor of all water-closet compartments should be made 
water-tight. 

3. That certain dangerous trades be prohibited in tenement 
houses so as to prevent danger from fire, the Commission having 
found that a great many tenement house fires were caused by the 
boiling of fat in basements. 

4. That the ceilings of all habitable basements should be at least 
2 feet above the ground. 

5. That no wall paper should be permitted in tenement houses. 

6. That all dark hallways should be lighted by artificial light. 

7. That at least 400 cubic feet of air should be provided for 
every adult, and 200 cubic feet of air for every child under twelve 
years. 

8. That the use of tenement houses for lodging houses or stables, 
or for storage of rags, should be prohibited. 

9. That the discretionary powers of the Board of Health should 
be limited. 

10. That the law in reference to the filing of the owner's name 
in the Board of Health should be perfected. 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 107 

11. That the number of sanitary inspectors of the Board of 
Health should be increased by fifteen, and increasing the number of 
sanitary police by five. 

12. That not less than two small parks should be laid out within 
three years in certain districts of the lower East Side. 

13. That no school buildings should be erected unless the same 
were provided with a proper outdoor playground. 

14. Urging the adoption of rapid transit facilities. 

15. The establishment by the city of free, fully equipped public 
baths all the year round. 

16. The establishment by the city of drinking fountains and 
public lavatories in tenement house districts. 

17. That the system of lighting the streets by electricity be ex- 
tended to the tenement house districts as rapidly as possible. 

18. That the streets in the tenement house districts be paved 
with asphalt. ;: 

19. That a thorough inquiry be made as to the sanitary condi- 
tion of some of the public schools in the city, and the sufficiency of 
school accommodations in certain districts. Also that the kinder- 
garten system be largely increased. 

20. Making the punishment for prostitution in the tenement 
houses more severe. 

21. Abolishing the permanent Tenement House Board, composed 
of the Mayor and heads of the five city departments, appointed under 
the act of 1887. 

THE TENEMENT HOUSE ACT OF 1895 

As a result of the work of this Commission, the Legislature 
passed a new tenement house law in 1895, which included among its 
provisions some of the changes recommended by the Commission. 

The recommendations of the Commission for the establishment 
of two small parks for the lower East Side were adopted, and the 
parks are now in existence, to the great gain of the city. Also the 
clause requiring the establishment of a suitable playground in all 
new public schools was adopted, as were the recommendations for a 
system of recreation piers along the river. The city now possesses 
five of these piers. 



THE MODEL TENEMENT COMPETITION OF 1896 THE CITY AND 
SUBURBAN HOMES COMPANY 

The following year, in 1896, the Association for Improving the 
Condition of the Poor, through its Department of Dwellings, called 



108 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

on March 3 and 4 a series of conferences to consider the advisa- 
bility of building improved tenement houses in New York. As a 
result of these conferences, the City and Suburban Homes Company 
was formed for the purpose of building model tenement houses in 
New York as a business investment. Many leading men of the city 
became stockholders of this company, and the work of building 
model tenements was a few months later begun under the leadership 
of Dr. E. R. L. Gould, who some years previously had conducted 
for the Department of Labor of the United States Government a 
comprehensive inquiry into the question of the housing of the work- 
ing people in different parts of Europe. 

A special architectural competition was held for the best type of 
tenement house plans, and an excellent type of building was finally 
chosen. One million dollars was subscribed as the capital of the 
new enterprise, and a splendid group of buildings was erected at 
217 to 233 West 68th Street and 214 to 220 West 69th Street. 
There are two sets of buildings, one back of the other, with an open 
courtyard 20 feet wide and about 150 feet long between them. One 
group of buildings occupies a space 225 feet long by 100 feet deep, 
equivalent to nine city lots, and the other building occupies a space 
200 feet long by 100 feet deep, equivalent to eight ordinary city 
lots. The buildings are divided into a number of apartments con- 
taining two rooms, three rooms, four rooms, and five rooms, and are 
so arranged that every room has direct light and air either from the 
street or yard, or from large open courtyards facing the street, of a 
width of 18 feet and of a depth of 60 feet, or upon a large courtyard 
in the centre, of an area of 529 square feet. The amount of space 
occupied by halls, stairs, and partitions is minimized, thus secur- 
ing a larger area available for floor space. The buildings were de- 
signed by Mr. Ernest Flagg, the well-known New York architect, 
who has given much thought to the study of scientific tenement 
house plans, and the buildings illustrate most admirably his conten- 
tion that the secret of tenement house planning lies in constructing 
a building more of the shape of a square, than of a long parallelo- 
gram. Every apartment is a home in itself ; every room has quiet, 
good light and air, and good ventilation; the staircases and stair 
walls of the buildings are entirely fireproof ; the halls and stair- 
ways are well lighted and steam-heated ; in the two houses are nine 
separate entrances from the street and every entrance has two stair- 
ways and two dumb-waiters; the partitions between the different 
dwellings are deafened ; every apartment is supplied with its own 
private water-closet, and most of the apartments have a small pri- 
vate hall ; the buildings are furnished with most modern conven- 
iences, such as stationary wash-tubs and sinks in the kitchen, hot 




G4TH STREET AND IST AVENUE BUILDINGS. 




KITCHEN. 
MODEL TENEMENTS NEW YORK. THE CITY AND SUBURBAN HOMES CO. 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 109 

water, gas ranges, wood and coal closets, and laundries and bath- 
rooms on the first floor. All rents are payable weekly. The rents 
are about the same as the rents of ordinary tenement houses in the 
same neighborhood and average for two rooms $6.80 a month ; for 
three rooms, ill. 40 a month ; for four rooms, $14.60 a month. The 
buildings are occupied by the better class of working people, respect- 
able mechanics, letter carriers, railroad employees, coachmen, police- 
men, etc., the company preferring to cater to the best element 
among the workingmen. 

The enterprise has been a distinct success, both from a social and 
financial point of view, the profit on these buildings having been a 
little over five per cent during the first year. 

The company has also built a number of small houses in the sub- 
urbs for persons of small salaries who desire to have homes of their 
own rather than to live in the city. It has also, during the past 
year, completed a second group of buildings at First Avenue, 64th 
and 65th Streets, similar in plan to the first buildings, except that a 
few slight improvements have been made in the interior arrangement. 

A third group of buildings is now being planned and will be 
shortly erected, and there is every reason to believe that the com- 
pany will extend its operation for some time to come by erecting 
new buildings in different parts of the city. 

THE MOVEMENT OF 1899 THE CHARITY ORGANIZATION 

SOCIETY 

In the spring of 1898 the writer, having for a number of years 
been impressed with the belief that bad tenement house conditions 
were the cause of most of the problems in our modern cities, pre- 
sented to the Charity Organization Society of the City of New York, 
of which he was a member, a plan for the formation of a society 
which should continually seek to improve the condition of the 
tenement houses : 

1. By securing wise remedial legislation in reference to new 
buildings, and by preventing the enactment of bad legislation. 

2. By securing the enforcement of existing laws in relation to 
tenement houses. 

3. By stimulating the building of model tenement houses on a 
large scale, and 

4. By gradually improving old bad tenements in the city by 
altering them to suit the needs of the tenants. 

Some few months later the Charity Organization Society decided 
to take up this work, and a standing committee of the Society, known 
as the "Tenement House Committee of the Charity Organization 



110 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

Society," was formed for that purpose. The Committee was com- 
posed of the following gentlemen : Mr. Frederick W. Holls, Chair- 
man ; Felix Adler, Constant A. Andrews, Robert W. de Forest, 
Edward T. Devine, John Vinton Dahlgren, Ernest Flagg, Richard 
Watson Gilder, E. R. L. Gould, George B. Post, Jacob A. Riis, and 
I. N. Phelps Stokes. The writer has had the privilege of acting as 
Secretary and executive officer of this Committee since its existence. 

The members of the Committee devoted themselves during the 
first six months to the work of framing a series of tenement house 
ordinances, which should be supplemental to the existing tenement 
house laws, embodied in the Greater New York Charter. As they 
had been advised that it was not within the power of the local author- 
ities to enact ordinances which should conflict with the provisions of 
the existing law, the Committee were necessarily obliged to limit 
themselves to only such recommendations. They accordingly sub- 
mitted to the Municipal Building Code Commission a series of fifteen 
tenement house ordinances, with a statement setting forth the reasons 
for them, and the advantages to be gained thereby. 

The proposed ordinances provided that in all new tenement 
houses no air shaft should be less than 6 feet wide in any part, nor 
less than 150 square feet in superficial area ; that no new tenement 
house should exceed 6 stories in height unless it was fireproof ; that 
all living rooms in tenement houses should contain at least 600 cubic 
feet of air space ; that for every new tenement house containing 
twenty families or more, there should be provided at least one bath- 
tub or shower-bath in a separate apartment for the use of the tenants, 
and where there were more than twenty families in any such house, 
there should be provided additional bath-tubs ; that every tenement 
house thereafter erected or altered, four stories or more in height, 
should have the first story made fireproof ; that the walls of all tene- 
ment houses thereafter erected should be carried up 3 feet 6 inches 
above the roof on all four sides, so that the roof might be used as a 
playground; that no wooden building of any kind whatever should 
be placed on the same lot with a tenement house within the fire-limits 
of the city ; that it should be mandatory upon the Corporation 
Counsel or his assistant to immediately file a Us pendens in the 
County Clerk's office upon receipt from the Department of Buildings 
for prosecution of every violation of the tenement house laws, ordi- 
nances, or regulations ; that in every new tenement house the stair- 
way connecting the cellar with the first floor should not be located in 
whole or in part underneath the stairs leading from the first story to 
the upper stories ; that no closet should be constructed underneath 
any staircase in any tenement house ; that every new tenement house 
and every existing tenement house in which the halls were not light 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 111 

enough in the daytime on all floors to permit an ordinary person to 
easily read without aid of artificial light, should have every door 
leading from the public halls to rooms provided with ground glass 
panels of an area of not less than 6 square feet ; that in every new 
tenement house all interior shafts should be fireproof and provided 
with fireproof self-closing doors at all openings. It was also asked 
that the following provisions of the existing building laws be con- 
tinued in effect, viz., that the bulkhead doors of all tenement houses 
should at no time be locked, but might be fastened on the inside 
with a hook or bolt ; that in all tenement houses where wooden stud 
partitions rest over each other, the space between the studs should be 
rilled in solid with fireproof material to prevent the spread of fire 
from floor to floor ; that the cellar floor of every tenement house 
should be concreted with concrete not less than 3 inches thick ; and 
that where a kitchen range or stove was placed within 12 inches of a 
wooden stud partition the woodwork should be cut away and filled 
in with fireproof material. 

These ordinances were printed in a small pamphlet, made public 
in June, 1899, and attracted widespread comment in the daily news- 
papers in this city, and in fact all over the country. The criticisms 
were uniformly favorable. These recommendations were also offi- 
cially approved by the New York Chapter of the American Institute 
of Architects, by the Architectural League of New York City, by the 
Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, the Children's 
Aid Society, the University Settlement, the College Settlement, the 
Nurses' Settlement, and by most of the prominent citizens of this 
city, including many of the heads of the city departments. 

None of these recommendations was adopted by the municipal 
authorities. 

Being convinced that no real progress in tenement house reform 
was to be made unless the whole community was aroused to a 
knowledge of existing conditions, the Tenement House Committee 
set itself to work to prepare for the public such a statement of tene- 
ment house needs that the most unconcerned could no longer neglect 
taking action looking toward the amelioration of the living conditions 
of the working people in New York. 

THE TENEMENT HOUSE EXHIBITION OF 1900 

With this end in view a plan for a tenement house exhibition was 
prepared in the fall of 1899, and the committee devoted its entire 
time from then until the beginning of the present year in preparing 
this work. The exhibition was held in New York City in a large 
building on Fifth Avenue for a period of two weeks, and in that brief 



112 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

time was viewed by over ten thousand persons of all classes, from the 
millionnaire to the poorest, unskilled laborer. 

The exhibition included five models, over 1000 photographs, over 
100 maps, and many charts, diagrams, and tables of statistics. It was 
most comprehensive in its scope, including a study of tenement house 
conditions in New York City at the present time, a study of model tene- 
ments in America and throughout Europe, a study of suburban tene- 
ments and working people's cottages both in America and Europe, 
model lodging houses and hotels for working-men in America and 
Europe, and a series of studies of public parks, playgrounds, libraries, 
baths, cooking schools, etc. The exhibition also included in its study 
of existing conditions in New York exhibits showing density of popula- 
tion, death-rates prevailing in tenement districts, the distribution of 
nationality in the city, charts showing over-crowding, dangers from 
fire, health conditions, etc. 

During the second week of the exhibition, a series of conferences 
was held every evening, with leading specialists discussing such dif- 
ferent phases of the tenement house problem as " The Exhibition and 
Its Meaning," " Model Tenements," " Improving Tenements by Per- 
sonal Influence," " The Tenements and Poverty," " The Tenements 
and Tuberculosis," "The People Who Live in Tenements," "The 
Duty of the City to the Tenement Dweller," " The Tenement House 
Problem and the Way Out," etc. 

This exhibition was the first tenement house exhibition ever held, 
and marks a distinct step in advance in the treatment of the tenement 
house problem. Perhaps one of the most interesting features of it 
was the cardboard model of an entire block of tenement houses in the 
city of New York. To those unfamiliar with the state of affairs in 
this city, the conditions here presented are almost beyond belief. 
The block chosen was one on the East Side of New York, being the 
block bounded by Chrystie, Forsyth, Canal, and Bayard streets, 
comprising an area of 200 feet by 400 feet, or 80,000 square feet. 
Nearly every bit of the land was covered with tall tenement houses 
six stories high. This block, on January 1, 1900, contained 39 
different tenement houses, having 605 different apartments or sets 
of rooms, and housing 2781 persons ; of these 2315 were over five 
years of age and 466 under five years. In the block there were 263 
two-room apartments, 179 three-room apartments, 105 four-room 
apartments, 21 five-room apartments, making a total of 1588 rooms. 
There were only 264 water-closets, and not one bath in the entire 
block, and only 40 apartments were supplied with hot water. The 
block contained 441 dark rooms having no ventilation to the outer 
air whatsoever, and no light or air except that derived from other 
rooms, and there were 635 rooms in the block getting their sole 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 113 

light and air from dark, narrow " air shafts." During the past 
five years there have been recorded 32 cases of tuberculosis from the 
block, and during the past year 13 cases of diphtheria. The records 
of the Charity Organization Society and the United Hebrew Chari- 
ties show that during a period of five years 660 different families 
living in the block have applied for charity. The rentals derived 
from this block amount to ^113,964 a year. If this were an excep- 
tional case and these conditions limited simply to one part of the city, 
the question would be serious enough; but when one considers that 
the block thus shown was selected merely as characteristic of the 
conditions throughout the city of New York, and that nearly every 
block is similar, one begins to realize the extent of the problem. 

The exhibition showed step by step the different changes that 
have taken place in New York's tenement houses since the early days, 
and all the evils of the present tenement house system were thoroughly 
exhibited, special emphasis being laid upon the evils of the dark, 
unventilated " air shafts " which are the chief characteristics of the 
present type of buildings, and which have been most aptly character- 
ized as "culture tubes on a gigantic scale." 

The sunlight almost never penetrates below the top of the fifth 
floor in these shafts. Bringing up children in such darkness and 
amidst filthy odors, insures its inevitable result : Twenty-five million 
dollars are annually expended for charity in the State of New York. 
It is a simple matter to investigate the records of our reformatories, 
hospitals, dispensaries, and institutions of similar kind, to find out 
what proportion of the patients and inmates come from tenement 
houses. In New York we know that nearly all are tenement house 
dwellers. We also know that most of our criminals are young men 
between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, and that the majority 
of them come from large cities, the breeding-places of vice and 
crime. 

POVERTY AND DISEASE 

Another striking feature of the tenement house exhibition was 
the series of poverty and disease maps, showing the extent of poverty 
and disease in the tenement districts of the city. These maps 
showed on a large scale each block in the tenement house district, 
indicating which buildings were tenement houses, and which business 
buildings, or used for other purposes. They gave the street number 
of each building, the height in stories, also the amount of land 
covered, the shape of the building, and the small amount of land left 
vacant for light and air. The maps were arranged in two parallel series, 
one of "poverty" maps, the other "disease" maps. Upon the "pov- 
erty" maps were stamped black dots, each of which indicated that five 

VOL. I I 



114 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 



different families from the building had applied for charity to one of 
the leading charitable societies in the city within a definite period of 
time. It seems beyond belief, yet it is a fact, that there was hardly 
one tenement house in the entire city that did not contain a number 
of these dots, and many contained as many as fifteen of them, indi- 
cating that seventy-five different families had applied for charity from 
that house. Similarly on the " disease " maps, which were placed 



,GRAND 



STREET 



r J 






- _ 


n^ 


i 




~ 


1 rn 






Mffinn'lj 


i | 




I 


1 


L " : 





f 




BAYARD STREET' 

POVERTY MAP FROM TENEMENT HOUSE EXHIBITION. 

Prepared by Lawrence Veiller. 

Each dot represents 5 families who have applied for charity in 5 years, either to the Charity 
Organization Society or to the United Hebrew Charities. 

directly below the " poverty " maps, district by district, so that a com- 
parative study of them might be made, there were stamped black dots, 
each indicating that from that house there had been reported to the 
Board of Health one case of tuberculosis within the past five years. 
While these dots did not cover the buildings to the same extent as they 
were covered in the " poverty " maps, it was appalling to note the extent 
of this disease ; nearly every tenement house had one dot on it, and 
many had three and four, and there were some houses that contained 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 115 

as many as twelve ; other colored dots indicated the prevalence of 
typhoid fever, diphtheria, etc. The maps also contained upon each 
block a statement of the number of people living there, so that the 
student thus had opportunity of weighing all the conditions that 
helped to produce the epidemics of poverty and disease. The maps 
as they appeared in the exhibition might well earn for New York 
City the title of the City of Living Death. 

The exhibition was planned and developed to prove to the com- 
munity the fact that in New York City the working-man is housed 
worse than in any other city of the civilized world, notwithstanding 
the fact that he pays more money for such accommodations than 
is paid elsewhere, being compelled to give more than one-fourth of 
his income for rent. That this was proved, no one who saw the 
exhibition could doubt. Photographs illustrating the worst housing 
conditions and typical housing conditions in over fifty different large 
American cities were exhibited, and there was no city in the United 
States where the working-man was not infinitely better off in this 
respect than he was in New York. 

The exhibit of model tenements included photographs, archi- 
tectural plans, and tables of statistics from the very many model 
tenement companies in London, also exhibits of the work carried on, 
both by private corporations and by the municipality in Liverpool, 
Manchester, Leeds, Salford, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Paris, Rouen, 
Lyons, Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Copenhagen, and other European 
cities. The tables of statistics were most complete, giving nearly 
every item of interest connected with such enterprises, from the size 
of the rooms to the character of the tenants and the amount of profit 
upon the investment. 

The study of model lodging houses showed the development of 
the lodging house in New York City from the worst type of lodgings 
in the police stations up to the more recent and admirable municipal 
lodging house and Mills Hotels ; similar work carried on in London, 
Southampton, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Copenhagen 
was also shown, as were the very large number of places where 
employers and private companies had built model small houses for 
working-men in suburban districts. 

THE MODEL TENEMENT COMPETITION OF 1900 

In connection with this exhibition, the Tenement House Com- 
mittee of the Charity Organization Society authorized an architec- 
tural competition for the best plans of model tenements, upon lots 
of a size 25 feet wide by 100 feet deep, 50 feet wide by 100 feet 
deep, 75 feet wide by 100 feet deep, and 100 feet wide by 100 



116 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 



feet deep, under conditions applicable only to the city of New 
York at that time. Over 170 different architects took part in this 
competition, and the result was that many excellent plans were 
submitted. Four prizes were awarded, the first being a prize of 
1500, which was awarded to Mr. R. Thomas Short, a New York 
architect. The object of this competition was to arouse interest 



REAR LOT LINE 




LIGHT AND AIR 6PACE 
38 

CLEAR RENTABLE Al 
ABOUT 60 % 
14 APARTMENTS 
'10 FRONT APARTMENT8J 
44 ROOMS 36 CLOSETS 
PRIVATE HALL TO 
APARTMENT 

50*8ECTION OF THIS 
PLAN CONFORMS TO ALl[ 
,THE REQUIREMENTS I 
CLASS 1. 



PRIZE PLAN TENEMENT COMPETITION OF 1900. 
K. THOMAS SHORT, ARCHITKCT. 

among architects in the scientific planning of tenement houses, the 
Committee feeling that a large part of the solution of the tenement 
house problem lay in this direction. 

The exhibition contained many other interesting and instructive 
features, and created the most widespread interest, and resulted 
in the introduction in the Legislature in 1900 of the bill authorizing 
the appointment of the Tenement House Commission. 



TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 117 



LIST OF BOOKS IMPORTANT TO A PROPER UNDERSTANDING OF 
THE TENEMENT HOUSE PROBLEM IN THE CITY OF NEW 
YORK 

CHRONOLOGICALLY ARRANGED 

1842. Annual Report of the Interments in the City and County of New 
York for the Year 1842, with Remarks thereon, and a Brief 
View of the Sanitary Condition of the City. Presented to the 
Common Council by John H. Griscom, M.D., City Inspector. 
New York, James Van Norden, Printer to the Board of Assistant 
Aldermen, 1843. Document No. 59. (Library, Academy of 
Medicine, 17 West 43d Street.) 

1853. First Report of a Committee on the Sanitary Condition of the 
Laboring Classes in the City of New York, with Remedial Sug- 
gestions. New York, John F. Trow, Printer, 1853. Pamphlet, 
32 pages. (Published in Annual Eeport of the Association for 
Improving the Condition of the Poor for 1853.) 

1857. Report of the Select Committee appointed to examine into the 
Condition of Tenant Houses in New York and Brooklyn, March 
9, 1857. Assembly Document No. 205. 54 pages. (State Library, 
Albany, N.Y.) 

1857. An Act to Improve the Condition of the Laboring Poor residing in 
Tenant Houses in the City of New York ; to Establish a Board 
of Home Commissioners in said City, and for other Purposes. 
Assembly Bill No. 568. (State Library, Albany, N.Y.) 

1865. Report of the Council of Hygiene and Public Health of the 
Citizens' Association of New York upon the Sanitary Condition 
of the City. D. Appleton & Co. 360 pages. A number of 
maps, diagrams, and illustrations. 

1867. Eeport Relative to the Condition of Tenement Houses in the 
Cities of New York and Brooklyn. Assembly Document No. 
156. 34 pages. (State Library, Albany, N.Y.) 

1884. Report of the Tenement House Commission of the State of New 
York, February 17, 1885. Senate Document No. 36. 235 pages. 
(State Library, Albany, N.Y.) 

1887. The Tenement House Problem in New York, January 16, 1888. 
Senate Document No. 16. 52 pages. 

1890. How the Other Half Lives. By Jacob A. Riis. Charles Scrib- 
ner's Sons, 1890. 304 pages many illustrations. 

1893. Poor in Great Cities. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1895. 400 pages 
many illustrations. 

1893. The Housing of the Poor in American Cities. By Marcus T. 
Reynolds. American Economic Association. Volume 8, Nos. 
2 and 3. 132 pages. 



118 TENEMENT HOUSE REFORM IN NEW YORK CITY 

1894. Report of the Tenement House Committee, as authorized by 

Chapter 479 of the Laws of 1894. Assembly Document No. 
37. 650 pages many illustrations, maps, charts, and diagrams. 
(State Library, Albany, N.Y.) 

1895. The Housing of the Working People. By E. R. L. Gould. 

Eighth Special Report of the Commissioner of Labor, Wash- 
ington, D. C. 461 pages many illustrations. 

1899. The Battle with the Slum an account of the battle with the slums 
in New York. By Jacob A. Riis. The Macmillan Company. 
465 pages. Illustrated. 






HOUSING CONDITIONS IN BUFFALO 

BY WILLIAM A. DOUGLAS AND WILLIAMS LANSING 



HOUSING CONDITIONS IN BUFFALO 



THE city of Buffalo began to exist about the year 1800, but at 
that time there were only a few scattering houses, and as late as 1814, 
when the city was burned by the British, there were not over three 
or four thousand inhabitants. The original settlers were nearly all 
of English descent, coming from New England, eastern New York, 
and New Jersey, but about 1840 a large emigration of Germans 
began, which has continued more or less since that time, until now 
there is probably more than one-third of the total population of 
353,000 of German descent. These people were of a frugal, thrifty, 
and industrious class, one of whose chief ambitions was to own the 
house and land which the family occupied. To them is probably to 
be ascribed in considerable degree the conservatism which has always 
characterized the city. This conservatism has sometimes been ac- 
counted a fault, but it is perhaps a better foundation for a growing 
city than too much so-called enterprise and love of speculation. 
This German desire of ownership has affected the whole life of the 
city, and it is for this reason largely that Buffalo is preeminently a 
city of homes. 

The city fronts on Niagara River and Lake Erie, and contains an 
area of 42 square miles, with a population, according to the cen- 
sus of 1900, of 353,000, an increase of about 100,000 since the 
last enumeration, in 1890. The business section lies rather com- 
pactly near the water front, and from this as a centre the city spreads 
out in the shape of a fan for about five miles. This resemblance to 
a fan is striking, and is emphasized from the fact that the city was 
laid out by Joseph Ellicott, who had assisted L' Enfant, the engineer 
of the city of Washington, and who had repeated in Buffalo, to some 
extent, the system of radial avenues planned by his superior in the 
former city. As will be seen by reference to the map, this business 
section is bounded on the south by the Buffalo River, which has long 
been and is the harbor of Buffalo. There the boats receive and dis- 
charge cargo. Up to within twenty years that portion of the city 
immediately north of the river and between Main Street and the 
lake was the centre of the commercial interests. The Board of 
Trade was there, and numerous shops, warehouses, and hotels. 

121 



122 HOUSING CONDITIONS IN BUFFALO 

Since that time the Board of Trade has moved farther up town, and 
with it has gone much of the activity formerly prevailing in that 
section, with a consequent heavy fall in the value of real estate and 
its abandonment largely for business purposes. This is the region 
now occupied by Italians, and is practically given up to them. The 
old hotels, warehouses, and shops have been converted into tenement 
houses, some new tenement houses built, and there the Italians have 
increased and multiplied until now they number about 20,000. In 
this locality is situated Canal Street, which is the resort of the worst 
and lowest order of prostitutes, together with a motley assortment 
of sailors, vagrants, and dive keepers, with whom the tenement 
population come constantly in contact. There are also numerous 
lodging houses where the sailors from the lakes live much of the 
time when off duty, particularly in the winter season. The Italians 
have been coming to Buffalo for about twenty years. They are 
thrifty and industrious, not given to immorality, and are steadily 
improving in condition. Some of them have become moderately 
well-to-do. A large number of them are employed about the docks 
or as street laborers, also in railway construction. Many also in the 
summer season go into the country and labor about the fields, par- 
ticularly in the picking of small fruits and vegetables for canning 
companies. Many of these people are small fruit and nut dealers, or 
go about with street organs and pianos. The children go to school 
for a comparatively short time, their parents constantly pressing to 
get them out, so that they can help support the family. 

On the East Side of the city, about two miles from the Italian 
settlement, is another district almost exclusively inhabited by Poles. 
They began coming to Buffalo about 1870, and have increased until 
they now number about 60,000. With few exceptions, these people 
live in small, detached houses of wood, sometimes 2 stories in 
height, sometimes 2J, often only 1 story. In almost all of these 
houses there are two families, frequently three, and often as many as 
five, six, or seven. The houses are usually built on a lot 25 to 30 
feet front, and from 100 to 150 feet in depth. There is always con- 
siderable space between the houses and usually a fair amount in the 
rear, so that, though there is much over-crowding, there is usually 
good ventilation of air in the houses and plenty of it outside. The 
Poles are thrifty and industrious, but when out of work sometimes 
individuals among them are given to pilfering, particularly from the 
railroad yards, which are large and numerous in their vicinity. A 
very large number of the children are sent to the parochial schools, 
where often the teachers know only the Polish language, and in con- 
sequence many of the children can neither read nor write English. 

The tenement house evil in Buffalo is practically confined to two 




ONE OF BUFFALO'S WORST TENEMENTS IN THE ITALIAN QUARTER. 



HOUSING CONDITIONS IN BUFFALO 123 

districts, the one inhabited principally by Italians and for conven- 
ience called the Italian District; the other inhabited by Poles, and 
called the Polish District. 

In the summer of 1892, when an epidemic of cholera was threat- 
ening this country, a committee from the Charity Organization Soci- 
ety of Buffalo, known as the " Committee on Sanitary Conditions in 
the Homes of the Poor," undertook, as coming within the scope of 
its work, an investigation of the tenement and lodging houses, with 
a view primarily of ascertaining their sanitary condition. In mak- 
ing such examination it was thought advisable to ascertain other 
facts as related to the question of sanitation, and to thus acquire a 
body of statistics which might be useful in studying the whole ques- 
tion of tenement house life. Through the cooperation of the 
Department of Health, the agents of the Charity Organization Society 
were appointed health inspectors, and through them a large body 
of statistics was gathered as to the number of tenement and lodging 
houses, number of occupants, sanitary condition, etc., which was 
embodied in the report of the Committee made to the Society in 
1892, and contained in the Annual Report of the Society for that 
year. This report showed that the tenement house evil had already 
reached surprising proportions, and it was voted that something 
ought to be done at once to restrict and regulate the abuses. The 
Committee were therefore authorized to prepare suitable ordinances 
for this purpose and procure their enactment into law if possible. 
Under the charter of the city of Buffalo the Department of Health 
had ample and far-reaching power to regulate tenement and lodging 
houses, only needing to be supplemented by proper ordinances to 
make it specific and effective. The Committee thereupon, with the 
approval of the Society, undertook the drafting and preparation of 
a set of ordinances which should adequately regulate and control the 
erection and maintenance of tenement and lodging houses. Much of 
the wintej* of 1892 and 1893 was spent by the Committee in such 
preparation, aided and advised by architects, builders, and sanitary 
experts, using as a model similar laws made in New York and Bos- 
ton, adapting them to the differing conditions and changing them 
where improvement seemed possible. They were then presented to 
the Common Council, and after much labor on the part of the Com- 
mittee in attending hearings before the Council and influencing 
public sentiment, the ordinances were finally adopted late in the 
spring of 1893, and became sections 121 to 150 of the ordinances 
of the city of Buffalo, and have been in force ever since. 

The operation of these ordinances has resulted in much improve- 
ment in Buffalo's tenement and lodging houses. The sanitary con- 
ditions on the whole are better, there is less over-crowding and the 



124 HOUSING CONDITIONS IN BUFFALO 

occupation of cellars has practically ceased, and very few new houses 
have been erected since, and those of good character. 

During the past summer a new investigation of the tenement 
houses has been made. The details of this investigation will be 
found set forth in Appendix 7. From the results of these inspec- 
tions it does not appear that the tenement house problem has as yet 
reached large proportions in Buffalo. The facts collected indicate 
that the average conditions are not bad as compared with other cities 
in America. There seems on the whole to be plenty of light and 
air and ventilation ; that the sanitary conditions are usually as good 
as could be expected, and that there is no indication of a dispropor- 
tionate amount of sickness and death in the tenement house popula- 
tion. It does not mean, however, that there are not very many 
instances where the conditions are exceedingly bad. In the Italian 
Quarter, as has been suggested before, there are a considerable 
number of houses not fit for habitation by human beings, where the 
sanitary conditions are bad, always have been, and always will be. 
There are cases of over-crowding which are nearly as bad as can 
be found anywhere, and there is often a total lack of effort on the 
part of the owner or lessee to give to the occupants any adequate 
return for the rent paid. In the Polish District the principal evil 
seems to be that of over-crowding. There is one instance of a two- 
story frame house on a 25-foot lot about 100 feet deep, where seven 
families are living, numbering all together 51 persons, nevertheless, 
this particular house having space all about it, there is light and air 
in every room of the house. 

The ordinances referred to above, enacted in 1893, it is believed 
are quite sufficient to control the tenement house evil in Buffalo, 
providing they are strictly enforced. This is the greatest difficulty. 
One of the principal reasons for this is a lack of sufficient inspection. 
The ordinances provide for only one inspector, and it is probably 
impossible for one man to properly look after the situation. Gen- 
erally, it may be said that a bad tenement can only be kept in proper 
condition by constant inspection and the severest sort of measures. 
Then, too, there is often a disposition on the part of those having 
in hand the enforcement of the law to be lenient with offenders, 
and instead of summary punishment, to let off the offender upon his 
promise to remedy the evil complained of. There is also of course 
at all times the habits of the tenants themselves to contend with. 
The ordinances provide for janitors in every house having over eight 
families. This, however, is not strictly enforced, and oftentimes 
the so-called janitor is a woman who gets a rebate in rent for over- 
looking the house. None of the tenants respect her authority, and 
she is practically powerless. The ordinances also provide for a sys- 




WORKINGMEN'S HOMES SHERMAN STREET. 




Fox STREET. 
BUFFALO -TYPICAL COTTAGES IN THE POLISH DISTRICT. 



HOUSING CONDITIONS IN BUFFALO 125 

tern of registration yearly of all tenement houses and the filing of 
a plan of the house, if any changes have been made since the last 
filing. This is a regulation believed to be extremely useful, but it 
is not enforced as strictly as it should be, largely for the reason 
given above, lack of sufficient inspecting and controlling force. 
Generally, it may be said, that there is considerable lack in the 
enforcement of the ordinances. No doubt, if the inspecting force 
were increased and the inspectors were to give their whole time to 
the work, the conditions could be very much improved and could be 
kept so. 

A recent inspection indicates that the tenement house dwellers 
are learning how to live cleaner and better. There is unquestion- 
ably a marked improvement in this respect over the conditions that 
existed seven years ago, and one is constrained to believe that if 
a good habitation were furnished to the tenant, it would not only 
better his circumstances morally as well as physically, but would 
appeal to his pride in maintaining better conditions. 

Where the tenement house dweller owns the house he lives in, 
the difference in the condition of the building is marked. 

While it is impossible to get exact statistics as to the number 
of houses in Buffalo, or as to the number of houses owned by the 
occupants, or as to the amount of indebtedness on such houses, yet 
careful inquiry among residents of Buffalo, who are familiar with 
the general situation, would indicate that probably 75 per cent of 
the houses are owned by the occupants and that perhaps 50 per 
cent of them, particularly among the Germans, are free and clear 
of encumbrance. Almost the entire East Side of the city so-called, 
being that portion east of Main Street and containing about two- 
thirds of the population, is occupied by houses costing, with the 
land attached, from $1000 to 85000 each. These houses are almost 
invariably of wood, are from one to two stories in height and stand 
upon lots from 25 to 40 feet in front by 100 to 150 feet in depth. 
A typical house on the East Side would be perhaps two stories 
in height, containing parlor, dining room, and kitchen, with three 
or four sleeping rooms, and costing 12500. 

The land would cost from $25 to $40 per front foot, making, in 
case of a 25-foot lot at an average price of 130, $750 for the land, 
$2500 for the house, or a total of $3250. Of these houses there are 
great numbers. There are also a large number of houses where the 
land has been bought for perhaps $20 a foot, with a house costing 
$1000, which would make the total investment on a 25-foot lot for 
land and house, $1500. The present tax rate in Buffalo, includ- 
ing both city and county taxes, is about $22 per thousand, which, 
for a $1500 investment, would be $33; adding to this 6 per cent 



126 HOUSING CONDITIONS IN BUFFALO 

of the investment, or $90, as rental, would give a total of $ 123, or 
slightly more than $10 per month. This of course makes no allow- 
ance for insurance or repairs, but in a house of this character they 
would be small and might properly be included within the six per 
cent, as that is a high rate of interest at the present time. There 
are houses, no doubt, in some localities, where the total investment 
may not be more than $1000, but this would be the minimum. 
Many houses are built, costing about $2500, on a 25 or 30 foot lot, 
which are divided into two apartments, the first story being for one 
family, the second story for a second, and having a common hall. 
Apartments of this character rent for from $8 to $15 per month, 
depending upon the locality and the value of the land. They fur- 
nish very comfortable habitations, and are occupied by small trades- 
men, artisans, clerks, etc. There are, as has been said, better 
houses, which may run in cost as high as $5000, but they are 
comparatively few in the district mentioned. The range there- 
fore from $1000 to $5000, as the total cost of a house and lot, will 
include a very large majority of the East Side dwellings. In the 
Polish District, as has been mentioned, similar housing conditions 
prevail, except that here there is an almost universal tendency for 
the owner to divide the house between two or more families. This, 
of course, reduces the rent very considerably, but on the other hand 
leads to over-crowding and to other bad conditions. The same char- 
acteristics among the population which make for ownership of the 
house are also a strong factor in the accumulation of savings. There 
are four savings-banks in the city of Buffalo : the Buffalo Sav- 
ings Bank, with 31,124 depositors, and $15,355,667.53 deposits ; the 
Empire, with 4572 depositors and $1,315,037.85 deposits ; the Erie 
County, with 57,131 depositors and $25,468,298.66 deposits ; and 
the Western Savings Bank, with 8059 depositors, and $5,094,593.74 
deposits, or a total of 100,886 depositors and $47,231,597.78 deposits. 
As the population of Buffalo, according to the last census, is in round 
numbers 353,000, there is nearly one person in three out of the total 
population who is a depositor in a savings-bank. There are also 
a considerable number of building and loan associations, having 
total deposits of $3,477,899, making a total of savings contained in 
the savings-banks and building and loan associations of over fifty 
millions of dollars. 

These savings have been and are largely utilized in the con- 
struction of dwellings, and furnish a continual fund, to which the 
would-be owner may resort for loans at reasonable rates. The 
present rate of interest at the savings-banks is from 4 to 4J per 
cent on a valuation of about 50 per cent of the property. The 
building and loan associations also make loans almost exclusively 




REAR OF TENEMENT IN SENECA STREET. 







m m m m ; 



EXTERIOR OF LE COUTEUX STREET TENEMENT. 
BUFFALO. 



HOUSING CONDITIONS IN BUFFALO 127 

on small dwellings, and they have clients among a class of people 
who have only their savings to invest. One of these companies, 
and that not the largest, states that it has built 2000 homes and has 
helped to build 5000 other homes. It is probable that these build- 
ing and loan associations have had a very large influence in assisting 
the wage-earners to acquire and own property. 

The city covers a territory, as has been said early in this report, 
of 42 square miles. Its general form is that of a parallelogram, and 
the distance of the city limits from the city hall, which is about the 
starting-point for all street cars and the centre of the business sec- 
tion of the city, is between 4 and 5^ miles. 

There is an excellent system of street-car transportation, which 
is monopolized by one company, and a system of transfers is in 
effect, which makes it possible to go from one side of the city to the 
other, in any direction, at a uniform fare of 5 cents. The street- 
cars traverse the distance between the city hall and the city line 
in any direction in from 25 to 35 minutes, and it is possible to go 
from one side of the city to the other, a distance of perhaps 9 miles, 
in about 55 minutes. There is no difficulty, therefore, in a working- 
man getting from his house anywhere within the city limits to any 
other portion of the city, where his work may be, within a reasonable 
time, say on an average one-half hour. 

The city is believed to be one of the best paved in the United 
States. The annual report of the Department of Public Works, for 
the year ending December 31, 1899, the last report available, shows 
that there were at that time 216.90 miles of asphalt paving, 7.54 
miles of brick paving, 104 miles of block stone, and 3 miles of mac- 
adam. Nearly two-thirds, therefore, of the paving is asphalt, and 
this is largely in the residence districts of the city. This insures a 
sanitary condition and cleanliness that can be attained by no other 
kind of paving. It further affects favorably transportation for the 
working-men, who are able to get to and from their work, over long 
distances, with great ease and celerity by means of bicycles. Indeed, 
it is believed that the bicycle plays a larger share in the comfort and 
convenience of the working-man in Buffalo than in any other city in 
America. It is known that there is among the working-men a large 
market for the second-hand bicycles which are discarded by those 
who have more money to spend for this purpose. 

In Buffalo, then, it is perfectly possible for a very much larger 
population to be housed in dwellings not to exceed two stories in 
height, and yet be able to get to and from all parts of the city in a 
very reasonable time. It is probable that twice the population that 
Buffalo now contains, or in the neighborhood of 800,000, could be 
housed in the manner stated without building the dwellings to any 



128 HOUSING CONDITIONS IN BUFFALO 

greater height than at present, and yet the means of transportation, 
supplemented by some further development, would be sufficient. This 
too, in the face of the fact that the centre of Buffalo is practically 
against the water front, and iha, L another city as large as suggested, 
under ideal conditions, might be js easily reached and within the 
same time, thus serving a population of say 1,500,000 housed in 
practically detached dwellings. This m not an exaggerated state- 
ment and seems to be easily demonstrable where the conditions are 
favorable. The city of Chicago contains over 1,500,000 of people, 
and, like Buffalo, has its business centre against the water front, 
and yet this large population is practically all housed in two-story 
dwellings and served by the street-cars and two elevated roads. In 
Philadelphia very much the same conditions exist, and yet the tene- 
ment house evil does not exist there. 

From a survey, then, of all the conditions as they exist in the 
city of Buffalo, it would seem that there is no necessity whatever 
for the existence of the tenement house system. There is plenty of 
room for houses of moderate height, easily accessible from all parts 
of the city by the present means of transportation, and there is room 
for very much larger growth under the same conditions. It seems 
possible, therefore, by the enforcement of sufficiently strict regula- 
tions, to gradually exterminate the 'evil as it exists, and to prevent 
its development in the future. These are the lines upon which the 
enactment of law should proceed, and if the time is to come when 
more unfavorable housing conditions must prevail, then the evil day 
should be postponed as long as possible. 



1 
J 



HOUSING CONDITIONS AND TENEMENT LAWS 
IN LEADING AMERICAN CITIES 

BY LAWRENCE VEILLEB 




LIBERTY STREET. 




AN ALLEY NEAR DESPLAINES STREET. 
CHICAGO TYPICAL HOUSING CONDITIONS. 




A 19TH WARD TENEMENT. 




ONE OF THE MOST OVERCROWDED BLOCKS. 
CHICAGO TYPICAL HOUSING CONDITIONS 



HOUSING CONDITIONS AND TENEMENT LAWS 
IN LEADING AMERICAN CITIES 



IN America, there are few cities today, outside of New York, 
where there exists a tenement house problem, and few where there 
exists even an acute housing problem ; although there are a number 
of cities where bad housing conditions have begun to manifest them- 
selves. 

Chicago, notwithstanding the fact of her large population of Chicago. 
1,698,575, has not as yet a " tenement house " problem, and the large 
high tenements housing great numbers of people upon a small area of 
land, which prevail to so great an extent in New York, are compara- 
tively unknown in the Western metropolis, although a few buildings 
of this type have recently been erected. In Chicago, most of the 
working people live in small one-story and two-story houses which 
are sometimes used by three or four families. These often are con- 
structed of wood and are in all stages of dilapidation, and many of 
them without proper drainage. The rear tenement also prevails in 
Chicago to a great extent ; and as the lots there are, as a rule, 25 
feet wide by 125 feet deep, it often happens that there are three 
buildings on the same lot a front house two or three stories high, 
with perhaps two other wooden two-story buildings at the rear. In 
addition to these classes of buildings there can be found many old 
private dwellings converted into tenements and now occupied by 
three or more families, temporary wooden partitions having been 
erected to divide off the different rooms. The evil of cellar dwellings 
also prevails to a considerable extent. 

Until 1899 no attempt had been made in Chicago to remedy bad 
housing conditions or to prevent such conditions from increasing in 
the future. In that year, however, a volunteer association, known 
as " The City Homes Association," began a thorough investigation 
of Chicago's tenement houses in certain districts, with the purpose 
of securing appropriate legislation so as to prevent that city from 
duplicating the evils of New York's tenement houses. 

Although Chicago has no " tenement house " problem, still it has 
a number of tenement house ordinances looking toward the regula- 

131 



132 CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 

Chicago. tion of the sanitary condition of the city. These are to be found in 
what is known as the " Building Ordinance," passed by the City 
Council in 1898, and also in the ordinances of the Department of 
Health. In general, most of these laws have been modelled on the 
laws of New York and Boston, certain changes having been made so 
as to be applicable to local conditions. 

The Building Ordinance contains provisions in relation to the 
construction of shafts, height of fireproof buildings, construction of 
partitions, stairs, ventilation of rooms, size of air shafts, fire-escapes, 
etc. Among these different provisions are many excellent ones, 
from which the following may be quoted : One, in relation to parti- 
tions, provides that, " In all apartment houses the dividing walls or 
partitions provided for each family shall be made entirely of incom- 
bustible material." Another, in relation to the ventilation of rooms, 
provides that "no room shall be considered habitable or used as a 
habitation unless it has at least one window of an area equal to one- 
tenth of the superficial area of the room opening to the external air," 
and the law goes on to define what constitutes the external air, speci- 
fying the minimum size of air shafts that will be permitted; the 
minimum area for a three-story building being 36 square feet, 
for a four-story building, 46 square feet, and so on, increasing 10 
square feet for each additional story in height. There is a further 
provision that if such open spaces or light shafts are covered over 
with a skylight or roof of any kind they shall not be considered as 
the outer air, and also that the space left vacant must be left on land 
owned by the owner of the building in question. 

A provision in relation to fire-escapes requires that all tenement 
houses of four stories or more in height shall be provided both with 
metallic stand-pipes and also with a system of metallic fire-escapes in 
such location and number as the Commissioner of Buildings, the Fire 
Marshal, and the Fire-escape Inspector may decide. There is a further 
clause to the effect that all such fire-escapes shall be inspected after 
completion, and if found in a perfectly safe and satisfactory condition 
a certificate shall be issued by the Commissioner of Buildings to that 
effect, upon payment of a fee of $1. The law also provides in very 
detailed manner the way in which fire-escapes shall be constructed, 
specifying the size and the thickness of the iron to be used, and other 
similar minute details. 

The ordinances of the Health Department contain a number of 
provisions, both in reference to sanitation and plumbing, and also in 
regard to light and ventilation of buildings of this class. These 
relate to drainage, to the general powers of the Board of Health in 
relation to light and ventilation, also to over-crowding, water-closet 
accommodations, construction of water-closets, the use of cellars as 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 133 

sleeping rooms, ventilation of sleeping rooms, ventilation of halls, Chicago, 
the cleanliness of buildings, contagious diseases, condemnation of 
buildings unfit for habitation, percentage of lot to be occupied, 
space between front and rear tenements, space at rear of tenement 
houses, height of rooms, ventilation of rooms, chimneys, water sup- 
ply, cellar floors, and other similar provisions. It is also provided 
in these ordinances that the Health Commissioner shall appoint five 
women as sanitary police, who shall have all the powers and perform 
all the duties of the regular sanitary police. In reference to the 
important subject of light and ventilation, the Board of Health is 
given the general power to prohibit any tenement from being erected 
or used which shall be inadequate or defective in respect to light and 
ventilation. The Board is also given power to order any building to 
be vacated when such building, in the opinion of the Board, is unfit 
for human habitation, either because of its being infected with 
disease or from other causes likely to cause sickness among the 
occupants. 

Another section regulates the amount of space that shall be left 
vacant between front and rear tenement houses, and is identical with 
the provisions of the New York law of 1867, requiring a space of 10 
feet between the buildings if they are one story high, 15 feet when 
they are two stories, 20 feet when they are three stories, and 25 feet 
when they are over three stories high. 

In addition to these local ordinances Chapter 24 of the Laws of 
the State of Illinois of 1889 requires that every architect or other 
person interested in any projected tenement house shall submit plans 
and specifications to the Health Commissioner for his approval or 
rejection, as to the ventilation of rooms, light and air shafts, win- 
dows, and drainage and plumbing. 

The Chicago ordinances also contain a requirement in reference 
to the licensing of all architects, to the effect that " no permit shall 
be granted or plans approved unless such plans shall be signed and 
sealed by a licensed architect as provided for in an act ' to provide 
for the licensing of architects and regulating the practice of architec- 
ture as a profession in the State of Illinois, approved June 3, 1897.'" 
A further section of these ordinances also provides that every person, 
agent, firm, company, or corporation engaged within the limits of the 
city of Chicago in the construction or repairing of buildings, shall 
be required to obtain a license from the city of Chicago before carry- 
ing on such business ; such license to expire at the end of each year. 
And it is further provided that any person who shall practise build- 
ing without first having obtained a proper license shall be deemed 
guilty of a misdemeanor for each day's violation of the ordinance, 
and be subject to a fine for each offence of not less than f 25 nor 



134 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 



Chicago. 



more than 8100. 
license. 



A nominal fee is charged for the issuing of the 



Philadel- 
phia. 



Building Ordinance. An ordinance relating to the Department of Buildings 
and governing the erection of buildings, etc., in the City of Chicago, passed by 
the City Council, March 28, 1898. 

Ordinances governing and pertaining to the Department of Health of the City 
of Chicago, passed April 18, 1881. Revised and authorized to be published as in 
force on the second day of April, 1890. 

Laws, Ordinances and Regulations relating to the Ventilation, Light, Drainage 
and Plumbing of Buildings 1896, as authorized by Chapter 24 of the Revised 
Statutes of Illinois, 1889. 

Plumbing Ordinance in force 1896. 

Philadelphia, notwithstanding its large population of 1,293,697, 
has for many years been justly proud of its reputation as the City 
of Homes. The tenement house system in this city is practically 
unknown, the great majority of the working people and poor people 
having individual homes, in most cases small houses with land around 
them and seldom exceeding two stories in height. Occasionally 
such houses are occupied by three families, but this is the exception, 
not the rule. These conditions have resulted largely from a system 
of building small houses by the aid of building loan associations, 
there being great numbers of these organizations in this city. If 
one needed further testimony to prove that a system of tall tenement 
houses, accommodating on each 2500 feet of land as many as 100 or 
150 persons, is unnecessary in our large cities, the experience of 
Philadelphia would afford ample evidence. 

Although Philadelphia has not a " tenement house " problem, it, 
of course, has some bad housing conditions ; the bad conditions, 
however, are limited to dilapidation and dirt conditions which are 
not irremediable ; also, bad conditions prevail to some extent in 
regard to drainage and sanitation. The laws and ordinances, how- 
ever, relating to this subject are excellent, and in several respects 
might serve as a model for New York. 

The Philadelphia building ordinances in regard to tenement 
houses have reference to the providing of fire-escapes, the percentage 
of lot permitted to be occupied, the ventilation of rooms and halls, 
the size and height of rooms, methods of constructing stairways, 
water-closet accommodations, water supply, and other similar require- 
ments. Among the most important provisions is one which requires 
that every new tenement house, or every building altered to be used 
as a tenement house, shall have attached to it at the rear, or at the 
side, an open space equal in area to at least 20 per cent of the entire 
area of the lot upon which the tenement house is erected, this open 
space to be left entirely unobstructed. 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 135 

The law further provides that no light shaft or open space shall Philadel- 
be less than 8 feet wide, and when between tenement houses or 
between wings of a tenement house shall be not less in width than 
12 feet. There is also a further provision that no court or shaft 
shall be closed, but every one must be open, the law stating specifi- 
cally that every court or shaft that shall be built for the purpose of 
furnishing light and air to any tenement house shall open upon one 
side into the street or into the yard or open space. This require- 
ment, however, does not apply to shafts used to ventilate only water- 
closets and bath-rooms. 

One section of the act provides that every room shall have at least 
one window opening either upon the street or upon the yard or on 
the open space above mentioned, and it is further required that the 
distance from every window to the wall or lot line opposite shall 
never be less than 8 feet. All halls are required to have windows 
opening either on the street or on the yard or other open space, and 
to have no room or other obstruction at the end. In reference to 
common hallways it is provided that common hallways shall not 
be used where it is possible to plan otherwise ; and, further, that 
whenever in the judgment of the Chief of the Bureau of Building 
Inspection it shall be possible to construct tenement houses without 
corridors, and without connecting the entrances of several tenements 
or suites of rooms, then the Chief of the Bureau of Building Inspec- 
tion may require that such tenement house shall be so constructed 
that it shall contain no such corridors or common hallways. The 
act also requires that every habitable room shall be of such dimen- 
sions to contain at least 700 cubic feet of air space. A minimum 
width for all stairways and hallways of buildings of this class is also 
provided for, the law requiring that in houses containing less than 
fifteen rooms, the halls and stairways must be at least 3 feet in 
width ; where such houses contain between fifteen and twenty-five 
rooms then the halls and stairs are required to be at least 3^- feet in 
width ; and where such buildings contain more than twenty-five 
rooms, then all stairs and halls must be 4 feet in width. 

In reference to fire-escapes the law provides that every tenement 
house shall be provided with an outside fire-escape composed of 
incombustible materials, and leaves to the Chief of the Bureau of 
Building Inspection discretion as to the number and location of such 
fire-escapes for such buildings. In regard to sanitary arrangements 
it is required that in every new tenement house there shall be one 
water-closet for every tenement or suite of rooms ; where a suite of 
rooms consists of only one room or two rooms, there shall be at least 
one water-closet for every three of such rooms. It is further required 
that every water-closet apartment shall be separated from every other 



136 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 



Philadel- 
phia. 



Boston. 



water-closet apartment, and shall have an entirely independent 
entrance. 

In regard to fireproof construction the law requires that all 
tenement houses over four stories in height, erected, altered, or con- 
structed in the future, shall be made fireproof throughout. A vio- 
lation of the different provisions of the act is constituted a misde- 
meanor, and the person committing such violation upon conviction 
may be sentenced to imprisonment for not exceeding three months, 
or to pay a fine not exceeding $500, or both, in the discretion of the 
court. In addition to the ordinances in regard to fire-escapes, there 
is an act of the Assembly, passed in 1897, requiring that all tenement 
houses shall be provided with a permanent safe external means of 
escape in case of fire, independent of all internal stairways, and the 
act lays down in detail the method in which such fire-escapes shall 
be constructed, stating that they shall consist of open iron stairways 
of not more than 45 degrees slant and with steps not less than 6 
inches in width and 24 inches in length. The law also specifically 
requires that a certificate shall be given to the owners of such 
buildings when they have provided fire-escapes upon them ; and 
that in case a fire occurs in any building of this kind without proper 
fire-escapes approved by the certificate of the proper officials, the 
owner of the building shall be liable in an action for damages, in 
case of death or personal injury sustained in consequence of such 
fire breaking out in the building, and shall also be deemed guilty of 
a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not less than six 
months nor more than twelve months. 

Building Laws. Act of Assembly, 123, approved May 5, 1899, entitled "An 
Act to create a Bureau of Building Inspection and to regulate the construction, 
maintenance and inspection of buildings and party walls in cities of the first 
class." 

Tenement House Law, Act of Assembly of June 7, 1895. 

An Act approved June 30, 1885, authorizing Boards of Health in cities of the 
first class to regulate house drainage, the registration of master plumbers, and the 
construction of cesspools. 

Rules for the Government of the Board of Health of the City of Philadelphia, 
adopted in 1895. 

After New York, Boston has the worst tenement house conditions 
of any American city. With a population of 560,892, and with a 
considerable foreign population, especially of Italians, Jews, and 
Portuguese, it has in certain parts of the North End and West End 
a number of tall tenement houses fronting on narrow alleyways, in 
which large numbers of poor foreigners reside. The number of 
these tall houses is, however, quite limited, and the buildings that are 
being erected at the present day represent great improvement upon 




BETTER GRADE DWELLINGS. 




SLUM DWELLINGS. 
PHILADELPHIA TYPICAL HOMES OF WORKINGMEN. 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 137 

the old type of building. Few of the tenement houses in Boston Boston, 
are more than five stories high, and the great majority are not over 
four stories. The six and seven story tenement, so common in New 
York, is not known in this city ; nor are the tenement houses so 
deep, and therefore do not cover so great a percentage of the lot, nor 
do they house so many people in one building as is done in New 
York. In the South End there are also bad housing conditions, 
although the problem there is not a distinctly tenement house 
problem, but more similar to the problem of Chicago, that is, the 
regulation and sanitary oversight of small two and three story 
houses, each occupied by two or three families, and in which the evils 
of dirt, dilapidation, and defective drainage are the main ones. For 
many years efforts have been made in Boston to improve the condi- 
tion of the houses of the poor, with excellent results. A special 
committee of the Twentieth Century Club has been very active in 
agitating for tenement house reform ; and there are also a number of 
companies building model tenements, and others which buy up old 
houses, and alter them and gradually improve them. The Board of 
Health has also been energetic in recent years in condemning unsani- 
tary property, and a considerable number of such buildings has been 
destroyed. Recently, with the development of better transit facilities, 
there has come a decided shifting of the working population into the 
suburbs, into small houses, accommodating one, or, at the most, two 
families, which have taken the place of the tenement house. 

The laws in Boston in relation to tenements in many respects 
resemble the New York statutes, but in several particulars have im- 
proved upon them. 

The Boston tenement house law is to be found in the act of 
1892, and in subsequent acts, which contain many provisions upon 
this special subject. The law of 1892 required that all tenement 
houses erected after that date should be fireproof throughout. This 
remained the law until 1899, when it was materially changed, the 
law of that year requiring that no building thereafter erected in the 
city of Boston should be occupied above the second story by more 
than one family, unless it was a first or second class building; a 
first-class building being defined under the act as a building fire- 
proof throughout, and a second-class building being defined as a 
building not of the first class, but one in which the external or party 
walls were of brick, stone, or iron, or other equally substantial and 
equally incombustible material. This law also provided that no 
second-class building should be erected to a height greater than 
65 feet, to be used as a tenement house, and that no wooden 
building more than three stories in height should be used for such 
a purpose, unless the basement and first story should be con- 



138 CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 

Boston. structed fireproof ; the act also contains a provision limiting the 
height of all buildings. This requires that no building shall be 
erected to a height exceeding two and a half times the width of the 
widest street on which the building stands. 

In regard to fire-escapes, it is provided that every tenement 
house shall have, with reference to its height, condition, con- 
struction, surroundings, character of occupation, and number of 
occupants, sufficient means of egress in case of fire satisfactory to 
the Building Commissioner, and also that no building two stories 
or more in height shall thereafter be used as a tenement house, un- 
less it is provided with at least two independent and sufficient ways 
of egress ; one of these ways of egress to be a flight of stairs extend- 
ing from the lowest to the highest floor, made of fireproof material 
and enclosed in brick walls, the other way of egress to be a flight 
of stairs approved by the Inspector of Buildings, and to be on the 
outside of the building. The law further provides that the owner 
of any building shall be entitled to a certificate to the effect that his 
building is provided with sufficient means of egress, if such is the 
case, in the Building Commissioner's opinion. 

In regard to the percentage of lot permitted to be occupied by a 
tenement house, the law states that no building above the second 
story level shall occupy more than 65 per cent of the area of 
the lot, the measurement to be taken to the middle line of the street 
upon which the building abuts. And every tenement house is required 
to have at least two exposures on the land of the owner, or as part of 
public ways, open spaces of at least 10 feet in width, these spaces to 
have an aggregate length of 1 foot for every 25 feet of super- 
ficial area actually occupied by the building ; such space to be open 
to the sky and to remain undiminished so long as the building is 
occupied as a tenement house. In addition a clear space open from 
the ground to the sky must be maintained across the whole rear 
of every tenement house (except in the case of a corner building), 
this to be of a depth equal to one-half the width of the street in 
front of the building. A clause is added, however, to the effect 
that this space need not exceed a depth of 20 feet ; and it is also 
provided that an equivalent area of open space in the rear or on 
either side of the building may be provided of different dimen- 
sions if the Building Commissioner gives his consent. 

In regard to the ventilation of rooms, the law requires that every 
room in every tenement house erected in future, or in every build- 
ing altered to be used as a tenement house, shall have one or more 
windows on an open air space with an area at least one-tenth as 
great as that of the room. 

In addition to the requirements for fire-escapes upon buildings of 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 139 

this kind, there is a further provision with reference to those tene- Boston, 
ment houses which contain over fifty sleeping rooms above the first 
floor, to the effect that there shall be at least one night watchman in 
such buildings employed on duty every night, from nine o'clock at 
night until six in the morning ; and where there are more than one 
hundred sleeping rooms above the first story, there shall be at least 
two night watchmen, or, in lieu thereof, a system of thermostats, or 
automatic fire alarms ; and that in tenement houses of either of these 
classes a red light shall be kept burning at night at the head and 
foot of every flight of stairs, and one or more gongs shall be so 
placed as to give an alarm throughout the house in case of fire. 

The tenement house act also provides that the halls on every 
floor shall open directly to the external air with suitable windows, 
and shall have no room or other obstruction at the end. 

The conditions under which cellar or basement rooms may be 
occupied are set down in great detail and are practically identical 
with the New York law. Also the Board of Health is given the 
power to limit the number of occupants in any tenement house, 
or in any part of such a building ; and if the specified number is 
exceeded, the Board may order the premises to be vacated. 

In regard to buildings unfit for habitation, the Board of Health, 
under the provisions of the act of 1897, whenever they are of opin- 
ion that any building is infected with contagious disease, or because 
of want of repair has become dangerous to health, or is unfit for use 
because of defects in drainage or plumbing or ventilation, or in the 
construction of the same, or because of the existence of a nuisance 
on the premises which is likely to cause sickness among its occu- 
pants, the Board may issue an order requiring all persons to vacate 
the building. The same act also gives the Board the power of con- 
demning tenements unfit for habitation, providing that whenever, in 
the opinion of the Board of Health, any building or part thereof 
in the city of Boston is, because of age, infection with contagious 
disease, defects in drainage or plumbing or ventilation, or because 
of the existence of a nuisance on the premises which is likely to 
cause sickness among the occupants, or among the occupants of 
other property in the city, or because it makes other buildings in 
the vicinity unfit for human habitation, or dangerous or injurious 
to health, or because it prevents proper measures from being carried 
into effect for remedying any nuisance injurious to health, or other 
sanitary evils in respect of such other buildings so unfit for human 
habitation that the evils cannot be remedied by repairs or in any 
other way except by destruction of the building or the burning of 
the building, the Board of Health is authorized to order the build- 
ing or part of the building to be removed, and if it is not removed 



140 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 



Boston. the Board may have it removed at the expense of the city. It is 
further required that the city shall pay the damages sustained by 
the owner of the building through its destruction as determined in 
an agreement between the Board of Health and the owner, and if they 
cannot agree as to the amount of compensation, the same shall be 
determined by a jury of the Superior Court on petition of the owner 
or Board within one year after the destruction of the property, and 
in the same manner as damages are determined for the taking of 
land in the laying out of streets and highways in the city. 

Statutes Relative to the Erection and Alteration of Buildings in the City of 
Boston, Chapter 419 of the Laws of 1892 of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 
as amended by subsequent acts. 

Tenement House Laws, Chapter 97, Acts of 1895, as amended by Chapter 161, 
Acts of 1899. 

Acts of 1885, Chapter 382, an Act in relation to the preservation of health 
and buildings in the City of Boston, as amended by Chapter 219 of the Acts 
of 1897. 

Baltimore. Baltimore, with a population of 509,957, has certain housing con- 

ditions peculiar to itself, though similar conditions exist in the city 
of Washington, a system of alleys prevailing in each of these cities, 
leading to certain sanitary abuses in the narrow streets hidden away 
from the public eye. In Baltimore, a little over one-fourth of the 
population own their own homes, the majority of the working peo- 
ple having an entire house for their own use. These houses contain 
from four to six rooms, renting from $7 to $8 per month, and are only 
two stories high ; and in many cases these buildings are occupied by 
two families. 

In the special report of the United States Commissioner of Labor, 
on the slums in great cities, made in 1894, it appears that, out of 
4028 families coming within the range of their investigation, and 
living in a very bad district of this city, 1533 of these families 
lived in houses containing three families, but only 1000 families 
lived in houses containing more than three families. This investiga- 
tion was limited to the very poorest and worst district of Baltimore. 
An investigation of the homes of the poor, throughout the whole 
city, would show a much smaller number of families to a house. On 
the whole the tenement house problem is unknown in Baltimore. 
The great majority of the poor people live in separate houses, and 
it is only in recent years that houses built for more than one family 
have begun to be occupied by two or three families. 

The laws in Baltimore in relation to this subject are somewhat 
limited in their scope, and are to be found in the Revised City Code, 
and also in other ordinances. 

Among the different provisions of the Baltimore building laws 




A TYPICAL STREET. 




COURT IN HUGHES STREET. 
BALTIMORE TYPICAL HOUSING CONDITIONS. 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 141 

is one requiring that in any tenement house over three stories in Baltimore, 
height the first floor above the cellar shall be constructed fireproof. 
It is further provided that where there is a store on the first floor, 
or where the lower part of the building is to be used for business 
purposes of any kind, the second floor shall also be constructed fire- 
proof. 

In regard to stairs and halls, it is required that in any new tene- 
ment house over three stories in height, the hall partitions and the 
partitions from front to rear from the cellar to the top of the second 
floor beams, and the entire stairway, must be built of fireproof 
material. 

There are a number of other ordinances relating to fire-escapes, 
ventilation of sleeping rooms, ventilation of halls, water-closet ac- 
commodations, drainage of yards, the conditions of occupancy of 
cellars or basement rooms, over-crowding, etc., modelled very largely 
upon the requirements of the New York law. 

Building Ordinance. An ordinance (No. 146) relating to the inspection and 
construction of buildings in the city of Baltimore ; City Code of 1893. 
Ordinance (No. 211), approved May 13, 1899. 
Ordinance (No. 79), approved 1886. 
New Charter of Baltimore City, 1900, revised edition, Sees. 507-508. 

Tenement houses in the city of Cleveland are practically un- Cleveland, 
known, notwithstanding the fact that the city has a population of 
381,768. The majority of the working people own their own homes, 
and even the very poorest people live in small one-story or two-story 
houses, few of them containing more than one family ; probably not 
5 per cent of all the houses in Cleveland are occupied by more than 
one family. The rents for the better class of the houses for two 
families range from $10 to $15 per month for each family, there 
being only one family to a floor. Notwithstanding the fact that 
Cleveland has no tenement house " problem," there are, however, a 
number of ordinances relating to this subject, being part of the 
general building law. 

These ordinances relate to the providing of fire-escapes, the con- 
ditions under which cellar rooms may be occupied, the height of 
rooms, the space between front and rear tenements, the size of light 
and air shafts, the ventilation of sleeping rooms, and similar pro- 
visions. Among these requirements is one that no cellar shall be 
used for dwelling purposes unless the ceiling is at least 4 feet above 
the surface of the adjoining ground, and such rooms are required 
to be at least 8 feet high throughout. In regard to the space be- 
tween front and rear tenement houses the provisions of the New 
York law have been enacted in Cleveland, but with certain changes. 
It is required that when the front and rear buildings are one story 



142 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 



Cleveland, high the space between them shall be 10 feet ; when they are two 
stories high there shall be a space of 20 feet ; when they are three 
stories high there shall be a space of 25 feet ; and in every case the 
length of the space is to be not less than three-quarters the distance 
of the width of the buildings. Air shafts are required to be at least 
3 feet wide in the clear, and such shafts must be at least 12 square 
feet in area for three-story houses, 16 square feet in area for four- 
story houses, and 20 square feet in area for five-story houses. 

Building Law. An act to amend Sees. 1, 5, and 11 of an act entitled" An act 
to regulate the construction of buildings within any city of the first class and 
second grade, and to provide for the appointment of an inspector of buildings, 
passed April 16, 1888." (Vol. 85, p. 289.) 

Health Laws, Chapter 30 of Revised Ordinances. 

Buffalo. The city of Buffalo, with a population of 352,387 persons, has 

not a tenement house problem in the same sense that New York has, 
the majority of its buildings of this kind being small one and two 
story dwellings. There are a few large tenement houses in Buffalo, 
but almost no continuous block buildings, there being not more 
than fifty large buildings of this kind in the entire city. 

The Buffalo laws define a tenement house as a house occupied by 
five families or more. There are only about 500 of these buildings 
in the entire city, but it is estimated that there are about 10,000 
houses occupied by three families or more which do not come within 
the scope of the law. A very large number of working people in 
Buffalo own their own homes ; but there are also a number of build- 
ings, formerly private residences, but now occupied by a number of 
families living in furnished rooms. 

Buffalo has a very large Polish and German population, but it is 
only among the Italians that anything approaching tenement house 
conditions exists. 

There are a number of ordinances in Buffalo relating to tenement 
house construction as well as to the regulation of such buildings from 
the point of view of sanitation. These have reference to the subjects 
of over-crowding, the vacation of buildings unfit for habitation, the 
providing of a janitor or a housekeeper in certain cases, the cleanli- 
ness of buildings, the regular inspection of tenements twice a year, 
the percentage of lot permitted to be occupied, the occupancy of 
cellars, the providing of fire-escapes, the construction of stairs, water 
supply, water-closet accommodations, the ventilation and height of 
rooms, over-crowding, and many other similar provisions. 

Among the most important of these is one in reference to the 
amount of the lot permitted to be occupied by a building and the 
provisions for light and ventilation for such buildings. 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 143 

Section 132 of these ordinances requires that every tenement Buffalo, 
house must have one or more "yard-courts," and may have "sup- 
plementary " or " inner " courts. (A " yard-court " is defined as any 
court not open to the public way or park and contained entirely on 
the owner's lot, but not less than 10 feet wide and containing at least 
250 square feet in area ; and a " supplementary court " is denned as 
a court opening on one side to a " yard-court " or to a public way or 
park, and such supplementary court must be at least 6 feet wide for 
one and two story buildings, and at least 8 feet wide for three and 
four story buildings, and 1 foot wider for each additional story above 
four stories. An " inner court " is taken to mean any court in the 
interior of a building for the purposes of a light well, but in no case 
are "inner courts "to be less than 8 feet wide and 10 feet deep.) 
The sum of the area of these different courts is required to be equal 
at least to 25 per cent of the whole building lot, except in the case 
of a corner building, in which case this area shall not be less than 
10 per cent of the lot. It is further provided that if in any case 25 
per cent of the building lot shall not equal the size of the yard-court, 
then such lot shall not have a tenement house erected or maintained 
on it. 

These provisions, of course, apply only to new tenement houses 
or buildings converted to be used as tenement houses, and do not 
apply to buildings already used for such purposes. There is also 
another requirement in reference to the height of tenement houses, 
this being regulated in proportion to the width of the open space, 
street, or court on which the building faces, the law requiring that 
the walls shall not exceed 30 feet in height unless the building faces 
an open space or street more than 20 feet in width. 

In regard to means of egress in case of fire, it is provided that in 
tenement houses more than two stories high there shall be at least 
two independent means of egress in each building, each of which 
shall be accessible from each apartment. In tenement houses where 
there are eight families or more, and where the buildings are more 
than three stories high, it is required that at least one red light 
shall be kept burning at night on every flight of stairs, and that 
also one or more gongs shall be placed there so as to give an alarm 
through the house in case of fire. The law also provides in detail 
for the construction of stairs in such buildings. 

With regard to the ventilation of rooms, the law provides that 
every room in every tenement house shall have one or more windows 
opening into the street, yard, or court, with an area at least one- 
tenth as great as that of the room. Wooden tenements are strictly 
prohibited, no single frame dwelling being permitted which shall 
contain accommodations for more than two families. In all tene- 



144 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 



San 
Francisco. 



Buffalo. ment houses the dividing walls or partitions between the apartments 
provided for each family must be made entirely of incombustible 
material, and, in the absence of definite subdivisions between the 
apartments of different families, it is deemed that eight rooms shall 
constitute the equivalent of one apartment. 

Laws relating to the Construction, Maintenance, and Inspection of Buildings 
in the City of Buffalo, in force July 1, 1896, as amended July 12, 1897. 

Charter and Ordinances relating to the Department of Health of the City of 
Buffalo, in force August 1, 1897. 

Although San Francisco has a population of 342,782, yet the 
tenement house is a thing unknown there. The great majority of 
the working people live in small houses, containing one or two fami- 
lies, each family having four to five rooms, for which they pay from 
$13 to $15 a month. The poorest houses for working-men are the 
homes of the 'longshoremen, situated near the docks, and which are 
seldom more than two stories in height, and sometimes containing 
two families each, the rents ranging from $8 to $10 per month. 
There are a small number of houses, formerly the residences of well- 
to-do people in parts of the city that are now no longer fashionable, 
which are beginning to be turned into tenements, and in which 
wooden partitions have been erected to divide the rooms ; the num- 
ber of these houses, however, is very limited. Having no tenement 
house problem, San Francisco has almost no laws on the subject, the 
only provisions at all on this subject being those relating to fire- 
escapes ; these provide in a very detailed manner the way in which 
such fire-escapes shall be constructed. 

General Orders of the Board of Supervisors, providing regulations for the 
government of the City and County of San Francisco to November 10, 1898, 
pages 158-225. 

Cincinnati. Cincinnati, with a population of 325,902, after New York and 
Boston, has the worst housing conditions of any city in America, and 
is like New York in one respect, in that it possesses nearly all kinds 
* of bad housing conditions, from the large block buildings housing 
hundreds of people, to the small dilapidated wooden house occupied 
by two or three families. As far as can be ascertained, the majority 
of the working people and of the poor people of Cincinnati live in 
tenement houses arranged for more than three families each, a con- 
siderable number of them living in large brick tenement houses in 
some respects similar to those in New York, though not so high, and 
in many ways better ; others find an abiding-place in old private 
dwellings converted into tenements, many live in ramshackle, 
dilapidated buildings, and still others find shelter in picturesque 
house-boats, which move from place to place. Only a small number 




IN THE SLUMS WHITTAKER STREET. 




A BREMEN STREET BARRACKS. 
CINCINNATI TYPICAL TENEMENTS. 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 145 

of the working people live in separate houses, the three and four Cincinnati, 
family house being the prevailing type. 

Up to 1900 little had been done to remedy bad housing condi- 
tions. In 1894 the Ohio Commissioner of Labor made a statistical 
inquiry into the condition of the tenement houses in the third ward, 
the poorest quarter of the city, but no practical changes in the condi- 
tions resulted. 

One of the worst tenements in Cincinnati is the notorious build- 
ing known as " Rat Row," the rear of the building being located on 
the river front, and the character of the tenants being of the very 
worst. The building contains over 100 rooms, occupied chiefly by 
negroes and low whites, and is continually under police and sanitary 
surveillance. 

The rents of the poorest tenements, the dilapidated wooden 
houses, range from $5 to $6 per month, especially in the negro quar- 
ter of the city. 

The building and health ordinances contain a number of require- 
ments in reference to the subject of tenement house construction and 
regulation. 

These provisions relate to the providing of fire-escapes, the con- 
struction of shafts, the ventilation of rooms, the percentage of lot 
permitted to be covered, water-closet accommodations, the condem- 
nation of unsanitary buildings, and other similar provisions. It is 
to be noted that there is a requirement, in reference to the occupancy 
of cellars, to the effect that no cellar shall be used for living pur- 
poses unless it is properly drained, lighted, and ventilated, and also 
unless its ceiling is at least 3^ feet above the surface of the adjoin- 
ing ground. Light and air shafts are required never to be less than 
3 feet wide in the clear; and the Board of Health is given the 
power to order buildings unfit for habitation to be repaired and put 
in proper condition ; if the owner fails to do this, the Board is 
authorized to make such alterations at the owner's expense. 

An Ordinance (No. 218), passed August 15, 1898, to provide for the construc- 
tion of, repair of, alteration in, and addition to buildings ; to provide for the con- 
struction and erection of elevators and fire-escapes in and upon buildings; to 
provide for the removal and repair of insecure buildings, and to provide for the 
appointment of an inspector or inspectors of buildings. 

Manual of the Department of Health of the City of Cincinnati, 1898. 

Pittsburg, with a population of 321,616, is one of the few Ameri- Pittsburg. 
can cities where bad housing conditions have been gradually increas- 
ing in recent years, so that the time has now arrived for taking steps 
in the way of preventing their further increase. While the problem 
in Pittsburg is not like that of New York, yet in some respects they 
are analogous. There is a considerable foreign population, espe- 

VOL. I L 



146 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 



Pittsburg. cially of Poles, in this city, and the result is that over-crowding has 
already become evident in certain sections, although there are few 
large tenement buildings, the majority of the working people living 
in small two-story arid one-story houses. A few of the worst build- 
ings, however, are large wooden tenements containing a great many 
people ; also there are to be found in certain parts of the city a num- 
ber of cellar dwellings, where the rooms are dark and damp; and there 
is a small part of the population living in wooden shanties on the 
outskirts of the town. 

There are practically no laws in this city in relation to tenement 
houses, the only provisions being found in the general building and 
health ordinances. Among these may be noted one requiring that 
every new dwelling house shall have an open space attached to it in 
the rear or at the side equal to at least 144 square feet unobstructed 
by any other structure. This practically comprises all the law in 
relation to buildings of this class in this city. 

Code of Laws and Ordinances relating to the Bureau of Building Inspection, 
and governing the erection of buildings, etc., in the City of Pittsburg, 1896. 

Manual of Laws, Rules, and Regulations, relating to the Public Health and 
the Construction and Inspection of Plumbing and House Drainage, 1895. 

Act of Assembly (258), approved June 26, 1895. 

Act of Assembly (306), approved July 2, 1895. 

New Although the city of New Orleans has a population of 287,104, yet 

Orleans. tenement houses are practically unknown in this city. The poor 
people who in some of the other cities live in large tenements, in New 
Orleans live in small houses, generally only one story high, and hav- 
ing openings on all sides, with yards and plenty of space in front of 
the buildings. There are hardly any cases in the entire city where 
there can be found three families living in one building, and there 
are very few cases where there are even as many as two families living 
in the same house. The beginning of bad housing conditions is, 
however, to be noted in the fact that there are a number of old dwelling 
houses, formerly occupied by wealthy people in neighborhoods which 
at one time were fashionable, which are now occupied by a number of 
poor people, and over-crowding is beginning to show itself in a few 
buildings of this class. New Orleans has no tenement house laws, 
although there are a few city ordinances prescribing the fire limits 
and regulating the construction of buildings generally. 

Detroit. Although the city of Detroit has a population of 285,704, yet it 

has no housing problem at all and tenement houses are unknown. 
The homes of the majority of the working-men and poor people of 
the city are for the most part thoroughly comfortable, and most of 
the people live in separate houses, there being very few houses 
throughout the city where there are as many as three families in one 




ONE OF THE WORST TENEMENT HOUSES. 




CELLAR DWELLINGS. 
PITTSBURG HOUSING CONDITIONS. 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 147 

building, and only a small number of cases where there are two fami- Detroit, 
lies living in the same house. There are no block buildings or tene- 
ments. A few of the very poorest people live in old houses, which 
have formerly been used as residences of the rich, but which are now 
abandoned. In this class of buildings are usually to be found two or 
three families. The great majority of the working-men, however, 
own their own homes, which are usually one or two story cottages, 
worth from $800 to 82000. The average rent paid by the ordinary 
working-man is from $8 to $10 a month fora whole house, containing 
six good-sized rooms, with water in the kitchen. 

There are no special provisions in the building laws or health 
laws in regard to tenement houses in this city, for obvious reasons ; 
there is, however, a rule of the Board of Health in regard to the ven- 
tilation of water-closet compartments which should be noted. This 
is to the effect that in tenement houses no less than one water-closet 
must be provided for two families, and that in every case the water- 
closet compartment must be open to the outer air or be ventilated by 
a shaft or air duct, which shall not be used for ventilating any 
habitable room. 

Building Ordinance. An ordinance relative to the prevention of fires and the 
establishment of the fire limits in the City of Detroit, and to repeal Chapter 85 of 
the Revised Ordinances of 1884, approved January 13, 1890. 

Health Ordinance. An act to establish a Board of Health for the City of 
Detroit, approved February 27, 1895. 

Rules and Regulations governing the Bureau of Sanitary Plumbing, House 
Drainage and Ventilation of the Health Department of the City of Detroit. 

The population of Milwaukee is very nearly the same as that of Milwaukee. 
Detroit, being 285,315 persons, and the housing conditions in both 
cities are very similar. Throughout the entire city there are very few 
tenement houses, the majority of the working people living generally 
in cottages of which they are the owners. There are no large tene- 
ment buildings and only a very limited number of buildings occupied 
by as many as two families. 

The building ordinances naturally, therefore, contain few provi- 
sions in reference to this subject, although there are certain general 
provisions in relation to all buildings which affect buildings of this 
class. These are in reference to the size of light shafts, the provid- 
ing of fire-escapes, the height of basement rooms, the ventilation of 
rooms, the construction of partitions between apartments, and other 
similar provisions. In regard to basement rooms, such rooms are not 
to be used for dwelling purposes or for sleeping apartments unless 
they are 8 feet in height and unless also the ceilings are at least 4 
feet above the grade of the street. In regard to partitions between 
the different apartments, it is required that in all tenement houses 



148 CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 

Milwaukee, such partitions between the apartments provided for each family 
shall be made entirely of incombustible material, or shall be con- 
structed with stud partitions filled their full thickness and height 
with mineral wool, brick, or other incombustible material and plas- 
tered on metal lath. In tenement houses it is also required that all 
stairways shall be at least 5 feet wide. 

Building Ordinance. Ordinance No. 53 An ordinance relating to the con- 
struction, maintenance, and inspection of buildings in the City of Milwaukee, 
passed May 13, 1895, as amended by Ordinance No. 28, passed April 13, 1896. 

Washing- In Washington, housing conditions are very similar to the condi- 

ton> tions in Baltimore, although the former city has certain evils which 

prevail to a somewhat greater extent than they do in the latter. 
The worst conditions in Washington are to be found in buildings 
located on alleyways and narrow streets hidden from the public eye. 
The great majority of the working people, however, live in small 
frame or brick buildings, generally in separate houses. There are 
probably not over one hundred houses in the entire city that are oc- 
cupied by as many as three families, the majority of the houses being 
two-family houses. In 1896 a thorough investigation of the worst 
housing conditions in the city was made by the Civic Centre. This 
investigation extended to 35 alleys and 191 dwellings, and the result 
showed that the conditions in many of the alleys in the city needed 
prompt action on the part of the authorities. 

Many houses were found to be in a very bad sanitary condition, a 
number being without proper water supply, others having no sewer 
connections, and many privies and closets were found to be in a very 
unsanitary condition ; also other buildings were so old and dilapi- 
dated as not to be fit for human habitation. Conditions in respect 
to light and ventilation, however, were found to be very good, as 
nearly every room had at least one window to the outer air. 

The greatest problem, however, in Washington is the " alley prob- 
lem," resulting as it does in shutting off small communities from pub- 
lic notice, and thus rendering the opportunity for immorality and 
crime very great. 

There are a number of laws in Washington in relation to tenement 
houses to be found in the regulations governing the construction 
of buildings and also in the regulations of the Health Department. 
These provisions relate to the percentage of lot permitted to be 
occupied, the height of rooms, the ventilation of rooms, the pro- 
viding of water-closet accommodations, the size of rooms, over-crowd- 
ing, the vacation of buildings unfit for habitation, and other similar 
requirements. Among these one requirement may be especially 
noted : this is a provision of the act adopted in 1899 requiring that 








DETROIT TYPICAL HOMES OF WORKINGMEN. 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 149 

from and after that date no combustible or non-fireproof building in- Washing- 
tended to be occupied as a residence or as a tenement house should ton - 
be erected to a height of more than five stories, and also an impor- 
tant requirement in the same act that no building should be erected 
or altered on any street in the District of Columbia to exceed in 
height above the sidewalk the width of the street in its front, such 
width being held to be the distance between building lines. There 
are also a few special provisions in reference to the building of tene- 
ment houses upon alleys of narrow width, it being deemed unlawful 
to erect a dwelling house on any alley less than 30 feet wide, or 
where it was not supplied with sewerage, water mains, and light. 

Among the different health regulations governing tenement houses 
in the city of Washington is one which is analogous to the system 
of regulation of over-crowding of buildings in vogue in the Scotch 
cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, known as the system of " ticketed 
houses." Under the provisions of the Washington health regulations, 
adopted April 22, 1897, the health officer is authorized, if in his 
judgment it is necessary to prevent over-crowding, to have affixed to 
or near the door of each room in such buildings a placard stating the 
number of occupants allowed under the regulations of the Board of 
Health ; and in cases where such a placard has been affixed to the 
rooms of the building, the health officer is required to cause a notice 
to be served on the owner or persons having charge of the premises. 
It is further required by the terms of this regulation that no per- 
son having the authority to prevent it shall permit a greater number 
of persons than are specified on such a placard to occupy any such 
room as a sleeping room. 

Regulations governing the erection, removal, repair, and electric wiring of 
buildings, and the erection and operation of elevators and fire-escapes in the 
District of Columbia, July 31, 1897. 

Laws and Regulations relating to Public Health in the District of Columbia, 
in force January 13, 1898. 

The city of Louisville, with a population of 204,731 persons, has Louisville, 
practically no tenement houses. Over three-fourths of the working 
people live in separate houses, the typical house being a cottage con- 
taining from three to five rooms. There are, however, a number of 
two-family houses in the city, arranged for one family on each floor. 
The only buildings that can really be called tenement houses are the 
old private residences in neighborhoods which are no longer fashion- 
able, and in which now a number of foreigners reside. In some of 
these buildings there is some over-crowding, but the number of such 
residences, however, is small. 

Louisville has no special laws or ordinances in relation to build- 
ings of this class, although the general building ordinances contain 



150 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 



Louisville, one or two references to the subject. One provision requires that 
partitions in such buildings, when made of scantlings and intended 
to be lathed or plastered, shall be filled in with brickwork from the 
bottom of the floor joists to a point 8 inches high beyond the floor 
line, between the scantlings ; and another provision requires that all 
buildings over six stories high shall be fireproof. 

An ordinance to regulate the construction, alteration, repairing, and removal 
of buildings, and the occupancy and obstruction of streets and alleys, approved 
March 3, 1894. 

An ordinance concerning the erection of fire-escapes, approved February 16, 
1898. 

Minne- The city of Minneapolis, with a population of 202,718, has no 

apolis. distinct housing problem as yet, the majority of the poor people 
and working people living in small one-story and one-and-a-half-story 
cottages, mostly of wood. There are very few houses occupied by as 
many as three families, as the great majority of the people live in 
separate houses, although there are a number of buildings occupied 
by as many as two families. 

There are practically no special laws in reference to tenement 
houses in this city, although the building ordinances contain a defi- 
nition of a tenement house and also include a few provisions in ref- 
erence to such buildings in regard to fire-escapes and scuttles. 

Building Ordinance. An ordinance to regulate the construction, alteration, 
repair, and removal of buildings within the City of Minneapolis, approved May 5, 
1899. 

Health Ordinance. An ordinance relating to the preservation of health and 
the prevention and suppression of disease in the City of Minneapolis, passed June 
25, 1897. 

Providence. Although the city of Providence is one of our older cities and 
has a population of 175,597, yet it cannot be said to have a tenement 
house problem, although there are in the city a few tenement houses 
accommodating as many as eight families, or even more. The ma- 
jority, however, of the working people live in wooden houses, built 
separately, with plenty of light and air around each. The sanitary 
conditions, on the whole, are good, excepting in certain parts of the 
city where old private residences have been abandoned and are now 
being used by several families. A considerable proportion of the 
working people also live in two-family houses, and in certain sections, 
notably along the water front, housing and sanitary conditions are 
not as good as they should be. 

The general building and health ordinances of Providence con- 
tain certain provisions in reference to tenement houses. These re- 
late to the construction of hall partitions, scuttles, fire-escapes, the 
ventilation of rooms and halls, and similar requirements, and in 




PROVIDENCE. 




KANSAS CITY, Mo. 
TYPICAL HOUSING CONDITIONS. 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 151 

many cases are modelled after the different requirements of the New Providence. 
York laws. 

Building Laws. Revised laws regulating the construction, alteration and re- 
moval of buildings, also the plumbing laws and schedule of water and gas rates of 
the City of Providence, 1897. 

Health Ordinances. Revised Rules of the Board of Aldermen of the City of 
Providence, 1899, Chapter 1, Board of Health. 

Kansas City, with a population of 163,752, is one of those Amer- Kansas 
icaii cities where housing conditions are gradually assuming a phase City. 
where it will be necessary to take legislative action looking toward 
their remedy. Many of the people live in dilapidated, tumble-down 
shanties, and there are also a number of cases where persons are 
lodged in rooms partly underground, in damp basements. 

The building ordinances contain a number of requirements in re- 
gard to tenement houses which are in nearly every case modelled 
after the first New York tenement house law, enacted in 1867 ; these 
relate to the construction of fire-escapes, the space between front 
and rear tenements, the ventilation of halls and rooms, the height of 
rooms, water supply, size of windows, conditions of occupancy of base- 
ments and cellars, and other similar requirements. 

Building Ordinance. Ordinance 258, approved January 15, 1898. An or- 
dinance to regulate the construction and inspection of buildings. 

St. Paul has no tenement house problem, although it has a pop- St. Paul., 
ulation of 163,065, in which there is a considerable foreign element. 
There are very few houses occupied by as many as three families, and a 
great many of the buildings contain only one family each. The typi- 
cal working-man's home is a wooden building, generally one story 
or one and a half stories high, for which a rent of from $3 to $4 a 
month is paid. In a great majority of cases, however, these build- 
ings are owned by the occupants. 

St. Paul has no special laws bearing on the subject of tenement 
houses. The general building and health laws, however, contain a 
few provisions in reference to the construction of partitions and the 
providing of fire-escapes and other similar requirements. 

Building Ordinance. Ordinance 340. An ordinance to regulate the construc- 
tion and plumbing of buildings within the City of St. Paul, and to provide for 
the appointment of a building inspector, approved June 26, 1883. 

An Act to regulate and control the construction of buildings and structures, 
and the disposition of dangerous structures within the limits of the City of St. Paul, 
approved March 1, 1887. 

Although the city of Rochester has a population of 162,608, yet Rochester, 
it is distinctly a city of homes. The great majority of the working 
people live in separate cottages, containing five to seven rooms each, 



152 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 



Rochester, with a small yard in front of or at the side of the building, the rents 
of these cottages ranging from $1.50 to f 3 a week. There are only 
a few tenement houses in the whole city, very few houses being ar- 
ranged for three families. Rochester has no special laws or ordi- 
nances in relation to the subject, although the general building and 
health ordinances contain certain requirements that have a bearing 
upon this special class of buildings. One of these provides that no 
single frame dwelling shall be erected which shall contain accommoda- 
tions for more than four families. Among the health regulations is one 
in reference to over-crowding, which provides that no owner, lessee, 
or keeper of any tenement house shall cause or allow it to be over- 
crowded, or allow so great a number of persons to dwell or be in such 
a house as to cause danger or detriment to health. It is further added 
that whenever it shall be reported to the Board of Health by the health 
officer that any tenement house or any room in such a building is 
so overcrowded that there shall be less than 500 cubic feet of air to 
each occupant of a room, the Board of Health, if it considers it nec- 
essary, may issue an order requiring the number of occupants to be 
so reduced that the inmates shall not exceed one person to each 500 
cubic feet of air space. 

And whenever the Board of Health decides that any building or 
part of a building is unfit for human habitation because the building 
is in an unsanitary condition from any cause whatsoever, the Board 
is authorized to order the building to be vacated within a certain 
number of days. 

Building Ordinance. An ordinance relating to buildings, passed May 11, 
1897. 

Health Ordinance. Ordinances and plumbing rules adopted by the Board of 
Health of the City of Rochester, 1895. 

Denver. Denver, notwithstanding its population of 133,859, has no tene- 

ment houses. The poor people there live in small one-story houses, 
which generally contain from three to six rooms and have plenty of 
land around them, such buildings renting from $4 to $12 a month. 

The city of Denver has no special tenement house laws, although 
the building and health ordinances contain certain provisions in 
reference to this subject ; these relate to the construction of par- 
titions and shafts, the ventilation of rooms and water-closet apart- 
ments, the construction of scuttles and means of egress in case of 
fire, as well as to light and ventilation and over-crowding. Among 
these different requirements may be noted one requiring that all 
buildings over six stories in height shall be of wholly fireproof con- 
struction, also a provision that every habitable room in a tenement 
house shall have at least one window communicating directly with 
the outer air, and that no shaft or court of a less area than 40 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 153 

square feet in three-story buildings, or of a less area than 50 square Denver. 
feet in four-story buildings, and so on, increasing 10 feet for each 
additional story, should be considered as being the outer air, and 
such open space or light shaft if covered over with a skylight or roof 
of any kind was not considered as fulfilling the requirements of the 
law. No water-closet is allowed to ventilate into a shaft which ven- 
tilates habitable rooms, unless such shaft is more than 8 feet in 
its least dimension. In regard to over-crowding, there is a regula- 
tion of the Board of Health, that the occupants of every room shall 
be so limited in number that no less than 700 cubic feet of air space, 
with sufficient means for its frequent renewal, shall be provided for 
each person. 

Building Ordinance No. 38. Series of 1898. An ordinance regulating the 
construction and inspection of buildings and parts of buildings, and providing for 
the care, use, and maintenance of the same, and repealing all ordinances and parts 
of ordinances in conflict with this ordinance. 

Plumbing Ordinance. No. 23, of 1892. 

Health Ordinance. Manual of the Bureau of Health, City of Denver, Janu- 
ary 1, 1899. 

The city of Toledo, notwithstanding its large population of Toledo. 
131,822, has no tenement house problem and practically no tenement 
houses. 

Toledo, however, has a number of ordinances relating to the con- 
struction and occupancy of such buildings. These ordinances are to 
be found in the general building and health ordinances of the city ; 
they pertain to such subjects as light and air shafts, scuttles, fire 
escapes, basement rooms, height of rooms, ventilation of rooms, con- 
struction of water-closets, over-crowding, etc. 

Among these may be noted one in relation to the occupancy of 
basement rooms, which requires that the height of any basement 
used for dwelling purposes or for sleeping apartments shall be not 
less than 8 feet, and that the height of the ceilings of such rooms 
shall not be less than 4 feet above the grade of the adjoining 
ground. 

Building Ordinance. An ordinance relating to the construction, maintenance, 
and inspection of buildings in the City of Toledo. 

Health Ordinance. Standing orders and regulations adopted by the Board of 
Health of the City of Toledo, October 13, 1897. 

Columbus has a population of 125,560, but has no tenement Columbus, 
house problem. 

There are no tenement house laws, although the general building 
ordinances contain certain requirements, relating to such buildings ; 
one of these provides that no cellar shall be used for dwelling pur- 



154 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 



Columbus, poses unless it is 8 feet in height from the floor to the ceiling, and 
is also at least 4 feet above the surface of the ground adjoining ; 
the space also allowed between front and rear tenements is specified, 
this provision being similar to the Chicago law upon the subject. 
There are also a few provisions in regard to light and air shafts for 
habitable rooms, it being specified that no shaft shall ever be less 
than 3 feet wide in the clear, and that such shaft shall be at least 
12 square feet in area for three-story houses, 16 square feet in area 
for four-story houses, and 20 square feet in area for five-story houses. 

Building Ordinance. A law regulating the construction of buildings in cities 
of the first grade, second class, and to provide for the appointment of an inspector 
of buildings therein, passed February 23, 1888. 

Health Ordinance. Rules and regulations for the construction of plumbing 
and house drainage, recommended by the Ohio State Board of Health, July, 1896. 

An Act to promote the Public Health and Regulate the Sanitary Construction 
of House Drainage and Plumbing, passed April 21, 1896. 

Syracuse. Although Syracuse has a population of 108,374 persons, yet it 

has no tenement house problem, the great majority of working people 
and poor people living in separate houses. There are very few 
houses in this city occupied by as many as three families, though 
there are a number of two-family houses. And there are no special 
tenement house laws, the only requirements upon these subjects 
being found in the general building ordinances ; these relate to the 
construction of hall partitions, the providing of fire-escapes, and 
other similar subjects. 

Building Law. Chapter 288, Laws of 1891. An Act further to amend 
Chapter 26 of the Laws of 1885, entitled " An Act to Revise, Amend, and Consoli- 
date the several Acts in Relation to the City of Syracuse, and to Revise and 
Amend the Charter of Said City." 

Nashville. The city of Nashville has a population of 80,865, but has no 

tenement house problem. The white laborers and poor people of 
that city live in cottages with yards sufficiently large to afford fresh 
air and even a place in which the children can play. Occasionally 
there are cottages constructed for two families each, one family 
living in each side of the house, but in hardly any cases are there to 
be found more than two families living in the same house. The 
rents of such buildings average from $ 2 to $6 a month. The colored 
people live somewhat differently from the whites, their houses as a 
rule being more dilapidated and smaller; but even among them there 
is no over-crowding and the houses are seldom more than one story 
high. 

There are no special tenement house laws or ordinances in Nash- 
ville, the only requirements on this subject being found among the 
general building and health ordinances ; among these may be noted 




iff* 



HARTFORD A TYPE OF TENEMENT HOUSE. 




ST. PAUL TYPICAL HOUSING CONDITIONS. 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 155 

one which prohibits the occupancy of buildings unfit for habitation. Nashville. 
This provides that the occupation or letting for occupation as a 
dwelling of any room or building within the city limits which from 
its construction, location, state of repair, or other good and sufficient 
cause is unfit for human habitation is prohibited, and declared to be a 
misdemeanor and to be punishable by a fine of not less than $5 or 
more than $50. Another section of these ordinances provides that 
whenever it shall be certified to the Inspectors of Dwellings that any 
house or room within the city limits is so overcrowded that there 
shall be less than 600 cubic feet of air to each occupant, the In- 
spectors of Dwellings may, if they deem it necessary, issue an order 
requiring the number of occupants of the building or room to be 
reduced, so that the inmates shall not exceed one person to each 600 
cubic feet of air space. 

In order to strictly enforce these provisions, the Mayor and the 
Chairman of the City Board of Health, together with the Inspector 
of Buildings, are constituted a Commission to be known as the 
Inspectors of Dwellings. This Commission is also given the power, 
where buildings are unfit for habitation, to order them vacated and 
also to condemn them. 

City Ordinances, Chapter 3, Department of Health, and regulations as to 
dwellings and inspectors of dwellings ; Chapter 4, Department of Buildings. 

Hartford, with a population of only 79,850, has for its size the Hartford, 
worst housing conditions in the country, the conditions there being 
in many respects very similar to those of Boston. Not only are there 
old, dilapidated wooden and brick buildings, which formerly were 
private residences, now occupied by several families, but also there 
are numerous tenement houses, erected for the special purpose of 
housing a number of people, and lately there have been erected a 
number of flats and tenement houses on the same plan as the New 
York " double-decker, dumb-bell " tenement, with small air shafts. 
These conditions, however, do not prevail to any great extent, and 
there is still time to remedy the evil before matters grow worse. 
But it is absolutely essential that something should be done soon to 
check the growth of these bad conditions before it is too late. There 
are great numbers of houses throughout the city, however, occupied 
by two or three families, one family occupying each floor. 

Hartford has practically no special laws upon this subject, beyond 
the general requirements of the Board of Health in regard to light , 
and ventilation ; these regulations provide that no building intended 
for human habitation shall be erected, altered or repaired unless 
the owner or his representative shall have first submitted the plans 
and specifications of the building in regard to the ventilation and 



156 CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 

Hartford. light and drainage to the Board of Health, and received from them 
their approval ; and the Board is also given the further power to 
approve, reject, or modify such plans, and to issue such written 
instructions in relation to this work as it may deem proper for the 
protection of health. 

Building Ordinance. An ordinance creating the Building Inspector, City of 
Hartford, 1896. 

An ordinance in relation to the erection of buildings in the City of Hartford, 
1896. 

An Act concerning fire-escapes, passed June 29, 1895. 

Plumbing Rules of the Board of Health, and the ordinances concerning 
plumbing and the registration of plumbers, September 1, 1897. 






CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 157 



CEKTAIN TENEMENT HOUSE REGULATIONS IN 
AMERICAN CITIES NOT CONTAINED IN THE 
TABULAR STATEMENT 

FIRE PROVISIONS 

Scuttles. The. laws of nearly every one of the cities included in 
this report contain provisions requiring all buildings to have scuttles 
in the roofs, of a certain minimum size, generally 18 inches by 30 
inches, with stationary ladders leading to them, and in most cases 
there is a further provision that these scuttles shall never be locked, 
but may be secured on the inside by bolts or hooks so as to be readily 
opened. The following cities contain provisions of this kind, vary- 
ing slightly in their details : Philadelphia, St. Louis, Boston, Balti- 
more, Cleveland, Buffalo, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Pittsburg, 
Milwaukee, Washington, Jersey City, Louisville, Minneapolis, Provi- 
dence, St. Paul, Rochester, Denver, Toledo, Columbus, Syracuse, and 
Hartford. 

Stairways. In some of the cities there are provisions as to the 
width of the stairs. In Chicago the law requires that stairs in tene- 
ment houses shall be adapted in number and width to the area and 
height of the building, and that there shall be provided for each 
building at least two flights of stairs, and that where such a building 
covers 2000 square feet of ground area, the stairs shall be at least 3 
feet wide each, and for every 500 additional square feet of ground 
area covered by the building the stairs shall be increased 6 inches in 
width. The Philadelphia law requires that all stairways and hall- 
ways must not be less than 3 feet in width in tenement houses con- 
taining less than fifteen rooms, and where there are between fifteen 
and twenty-five rooms in one house, the stairways and halls must be 
at least 3 feet 6 inches wide ; and in houses containing more than 
twenty-five rooms, these stairs and halls must be at least 4 feet wide ; 
also that the rise of the stairs shall not exceed 8 inches and the 
treads must be at least 9 inches in depth. The Buffalo law is quite 
similar, requiring that the rise of steps shall not be greater than 
8 inches nor the tread less than 9 inches in depth. The Milwaukee 
law requires that in tenement houses the stairs and halls shall be 
constructed in the same manner as in theatres or public halls, that is, 
no stairway shall be less than 5 feet in width in the clear. 

Fire Construction, Beams, etc. The Baltimore law provides that 
in any tenement house over three stories in height, or any such 



158 CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 

building occupied by three or more families above the first story, the 
first floor above the cellar shall be constructed fireproof, and that 
when the lower part of such building is to be used for business 
purposes of any kind the second floor shall also be constructed 
fireproof. 

Precautions against Fire Alarms, Watchmen, Crongs, etc. A 
few of the cities contain provisions requiring watchmen in buildings 
of this kind at night. The city of Boston requires that in every 
tenement house where there are more than fifty sleeping rooms above 
the first story there shall be at least one night-watchman exclusively 
employed as a watchman every night from nine o'clock at night till 
six o'clock in the morning, and that where there are one hundred 
rooms or more above the first floor in any such tenement house, there 
shall be at least two night-watchmen ; but it is provided that a sys- 
tem of thermostats or automatic fire-alarms may be substituted for 
one of the watchmen. It is also required that a red light shall be 
kept burning at night at the head and foot of every flight of stairs in 
such buildings, and that one or more gongs shall be so located as to 
readily give an alarm throughout the house in case of fire. The 
Buffalo law has very similar provisions, except that in Buffalo these 
provisions apply to any tenement house containing more than twenty 
sleeping rooms above the first floor. In such buildings the Health 
Commissioner is authorized to require that there shall be one or more 
night-watchmen on duty every night. Also in tenements containing 
eight families or more, and which are at the same time more than 
two stories high, it is required that at least one red light shall be 
kept burning at night on every flight of stairs, and that one or more 
gongs shall be so located as to give an alarm throughout the house in 
case of fire, and that all doors of exit or entrance shall open out- 
wardly, and that buckets of water shall be kept on hand in a 
convenient place in such buildings. 

Combustible Articles, Storage of, Prohibited. The storage of com- 
bustible articles is pretty generally prohibited in most of our cities, 
the cities of Chicago, Boston, Pittsburg, Washington, and Syracuse 
having special requirements upon this subject. 

Cellar Entrance. In addition to the above requirements, from 
the point of view of safety from fire, there is to be found in the Buffalo 
law a provision that every dwelling house occupied by two or more 
families above the first story shall be provided with an entrance to 
the cellar from the outside of the building. This is the only city 
with the exception of New York which has a requirement of this 
kind. 






CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 159 



VARIOUS PROVISIONS 

Chimneys. The laws of Chicago, St. Louis, Buffalo, Providence, 
and Kansas City all require that for every tenement house, newly 
erected, there shall be adequate chimneys running through every 
floor, with an open fireplace or place for a stove for every family 
and set of apartments. 

Janitor Required. In the cities of Boston and Buffalo there is a 
requirement that whenever there are more than eight families living 
in a tenement house, in which the owner does not reside, there shall 
be a janitor, or housekeeper, or some other responsible person, who 
shall reside in the house and have charge of it, if the Board of Health 
shall so decide ; and in the City of Washington this is required when- 
ever there are more than five families residing in a tenement house, 
instead of more than eight. 

Ashes and G-arbage, Receptacles for . Most of the large cities con- 
tain a specific provision in their laws that proper receptacles for ashes 
and garbage and other refuse matter shall be provided in tenement 
houses. The cities which have such specific requirements are Chi- 
cago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Boston, Buffalo, Kansas City, Cincin- 
nati, and Washington. 

Animals, Keeping of, Prohibited. The cities of Chicago and 
Boston prohibit the keeping of certain animals in tenement houses. 

Roofs to be kept in Repair. The laws of Chicago, Baltimore, 
Washington, Providence, and Nashville all contain requirements that 
the roofs of tenement houses shall be kept in repair so as not to leak. 

Yards and Areas. In the Chicago laws, and also in the laws of 
Baltimore, Buffalo, and Washington, there is a special provision that 
yards and areas of tenement houses shall be properly graded and 
drained, and in some cases paved or cemented. 

Contagious Diseases to be Reported. The health provisions of the 
Chicago, Boston, and Buffalo laws require that whenever any person in 
a tenement house is sick with fever or with any infectious, pestilential, 
or contagious disease, and such sickness is known to the owner or to 
any responsible person having charge of the house, the owner shall 
give immediate notice of such sickness to the Board of Health, and 
the Board shall thereupon cause the house to be inspected and cleansed 
or disinfected in such manner as they may deem necessary, with a 
further provision that the blankets, bedding, and bedclothes used 
by any such sick person shall be thoroughly cleansed and fumigated, 
and may in extreme cases be destroyed. 

Definition of" Cellar." In nearly every city the building laws 
contain a definition of a " cellar," and in a great majority of cases a 
cellar is defined to be any basement or lower story of a building of 



160 CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 

which, one-half or more of the height from the floor to the ceiling is 
below the level of the adjoining ground. Such a definition is to be 
found in the laws of Chicago, St. Louis, Boston, Baltimore, Buffalo, 
San Francisco, Providence, Rochester, and Hartford. 

The laws of these cities in a number of cases also contain provi- 
sions in reference to the administration of the law in each case, hav- 
ing special reference to such subjects as the appointment of sanitary 
police, the remedy of injunction in cases of violation of the statute, 
the right of public officials to enter such buildings, the registration 
of the names of owners of tenement houses, the semiannual inspec- 
tion of such buildings, and a few other similar requirements. As 
these requirements exist in so few of the cities, and as they contain 
no unusual features, they are not included in this report. 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 161 



THE TEXT OF CERTAIN TENEMENT HOUSE RE- 
QUIREMENTS IN SEVERAL AMERICAN CITIES, 
TO WHICH ATTENTION IS ESPECIALLY CALLED 

CONDEMNATION OF BUILDINGS UNFIT FOR HABITATION 

Boston. (Chapter 219 of the Act of 1897 of the Commonwealth 
of Massachusetts. An Act for the further protection of the public 
health in the City of Boston.) 

SECTION 1. Whenever, in the opinion of the Board of Health, 
any building or part thereof in said city is, because of age, infection 
with contagious disease, defects in drainage, plumbing or ventilation, 
or because of the existence of a nuisance on the premises which is 
likely to cause sickness among its occupants, or among the occupants 
of other property in said city, or because it makes other buildings in 
said vicinity unfit for human habitation or dangerous or injurious to 
health, or because it prevents proper measures from being carried into 
effect for remedying any nuisance injurious to health, or other sani- 
tary evils in respect of such other buildings, so unfit for human habi- 
tation that the evils in or caused by said building cannot be remedied 
by repairs or in any other way except by the destruction of said 
building or of any portion of the same, said Board of Health may 
order the same or any part thereof to be removed ; and if said building 
is not removed in accordance with said order said - Board of Health 
shall remove the same at the expense of the city. 

SEC. 2. The City of Boston shall pay the damages sustained by 
the owner of the building by the destruction of the same, or part 
thereof, as determined on agreement between said Board of Health 
and said owner, and if they cannot agree the same shall be deter- 
mined by a jury of the Superior Court for the County of Suffolk, on 
petition of said owner or board within one year after said destruc- 
tion, in the same manner as damages are determined for the taking 
of land in laying out streets and highways in the City of Boston. 

DEFINITION OF TENEMENT HOUSE 

Boston. (Chapter 419 of the Laws of 1892 of the Common- 
wealth of Massachusetts, as amended.) Section 17. " Tenement 
House " means a building which, or any portion of which, is occu- 
pied, or intended to be occupied, as a dwelling by more than three 
families living independently of one another and doing their cooking 

VOL. I M 



162 CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 

upon the premises; or by more than two families above the first 
story so living and cooking ; and includes apartment houses, family 
hotels, and flat houses, where families are so living and cooking. 

FEES FOR PERMITS 

Philadelphia. (An ordinance to regulate and determine the 
license fee for permits in the Bureau of Building Inspection, Depart- 
ment of Public Safety, as required by Section 41 of the Act of Assem- 
bly, approved June 8, 1893 ; approved March 28, 1894.) 

SECTION 1. The select and Common Councils of the city of 
Philadelphia do ordain, That where any person or persons shall be 
desirous of erecting, constructing, or altering any house or building, 
such person or persons shall make application at the office of the 
Bureau of Building Inspection for a permit for that purpose, and 
shall pay for such permit the various sums as follows : 

For the inspection of each or any building not exceeding thirty 
(30) feet in height and eighteen (18) feet in width, and not exceed- 
ing a superficial area of sixteen hundred (1600) square feet, the fee 
shall be three (|3) dollars. 

For the inspection of each or any building over eighteen (18) 
feet in width not exceeding thirty (30) feet in height, and not 
exceeding in superficial area two thousand (2000) square feet, the 
fee shall be five (85) dollars, and the further sum of one (81) dollar 
in addition for each story above thirty feet in height, and a like sum 
of one (II) dollar for each additional one thousand (1000) square 
feet of ground covered by such house or building. 

For the inspection of heating apparatus and flues in all buildings 
in which the same has not been heretofore introduced the fee shall 
be one (81) dollar. 

For the inspection of buildings for which application is made for 
repair or alteration, the fee shall be two ($2) dollars. 

For the inspection of buildings where application is made to tear 
down and no application is made for a permit to erect a new build- 
ing upon the same ground, the fee shall be two (82) dollars. 

For the inspection and examination of any building or buildings 
already erected, upon complaint in due form as to being dangerous, 
said building or buildings not exceeding four (4) stories in height, 
the fee for each building shall be ten (810) dollars, and for each addi- 
tional story an additional sum of one (81) dollar. The fee shall be 
deposited with the Chief of the Bureau, but shall not be retained 
after the inspection and examination is made, unless the Inspector 
making the examination shall certify to the Chief that, in his judg- 
ment, the complaint was groundless or malicious. 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 163 

For fence views the fee shall be three ($3) dollars, fixed by Act 
of Assembly, approved May 6, 1870. 

For the inspection of frame shed and overhanging bath to dwell- 
ing house already erected, the fee for each shall be one (81) dollar. 

For the inspection of a bay or oriel window the fee shall be two 
(12) dollars. 

For the inspection of open shelter sheds, when not exceeding a 
superficial area of five hundred (500) feet, the fee shall be one (1) 
dollar ; for each additional five hundred (500) feet or part thereof 
the fee shall be fifty (50) cents. 

For the inspection of boiler and engine foundations in buildings 
in which the same has not been heretofore introduced, and in any 
new building in which the application for the permit for the erection 
of the said building does not include the introduction of a boiler or 
engine, the fee for the same shall be two ($ 2) dollars. 

SEC. 2. All ordinances or parts of ordinances inconsistent here- 
with be and the same are hereby repealed. 

FIRE-ESCAPE LAW 

Philadelphia. (Act of Assembly, approved July 12, 1897.) Be 
it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Com- 
monwealth of Pennsylvania, in general assembly met, and it is here- 
by enacted by the authority of the same, that all the following 
described buildings within this Commonwealth, to wit : . . . Ever} r 
tenement house or other building in which rooms or floors are usu- 
ally let to lodgers or families, shall be provided with a permanent, 
safe, external means of escape therefrom, in case of fire, independent 
of all internal stairways ; the number and location of such escapes 
to be governed by the size of the building and the number of its 
inmates, and arranged in such a way as to make them readily accessi- 
ble, safe and adequate for the escape of said inmates. Such escapes 
to consist of outside, open, iron stairways, of not more than 45 degrees 
slant, with steps not less than 6 inches in width and 24 inches in 
length. And all of said buildings, capable of accommodating from 
one hundred to five hundred or more persons, shall be provided with 
two such stairways, and more than two stairways if such be necessary 
to secure the speedy and safe escape of said inmates, in case the 
internal stairways are cut off by fire or smoke. And it shall be 
the duty of the owner or owners in fee, for life, of every such build- 
ing, and of the trustee or trustees of every estate, association, society, 
college, seminary, academy, hospital or asylum owning or using any 
such building, to provide and cause to be securely affixed, outside 
of every such building, such permanent, external, unenclosed fire- 



164 CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 

escape; provided that nothing herein contained shall prohibit any 
person whose duty it is under this act to erect fire-escapes, from 
selecting and erecting any other and different device, design or 
instrument, being a permanent, safe, external means of escape, sub- 
ject to the inspection and approval of the constituted authorities for 
that purpose. 

SEC. 2. It shall be the duty of the Board of Fire Commissioners, 
in conjunction with the Fire Marshal of the district where such Com- 
missioners and Fire Marshal are elected or appointed, to first ex- 
amine and test such fire-escape or escapes, and after, upon trial, said 
fire-escape or escapes should prove to be in accordance with the 
requirements of Section 1 of this act, then the said Fire Marshal, 
in connection with the Fire Commissioners, or a majority of them, 
shall grant a certificate approving said fire-escape, thereby relieving 
the party or parties to whom such certificate is issued from the lia- 
bilities of fines, damages and imprisonment imposed by this act: 
Provided, further, that in counties where no such Fire Marshal or 
Fire Commissioners exist, then the County Commissioners in each 
said county shall be the Board of Examiners, and shall grant certifi- 
cates of approval when escapes are erected in accordance with the 
requirements of Section 1 of this act. 

SEC. 3. That every person, corporation, trustee, Board of Educa- 
tion and Board of School Directors neglecting or refusing to comply 
with the requirements of Section 1 of this act, in erecting said fire- 
escape or escapes, shall be liable to a fine not exceeding $300; 
and also be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by impris- 
onment for not less than one month or more than two months. 
And, in case of fire occurring in any of said buildings in the absence 
of such fire-escape or escapes, approved by certificate of said offi- 
cials, the said persons or corporations shall be liable in an action 
for damages in case of death or personal injuries sustained in con- 
sequence of such fire breaking out in said building ; and shall also 
be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment 
for not less than six months nor more than twelve months; and 
such action for damages may be maintained by any person now 
authorized by law to sue as in other cases of similar injuries ; pro- 
vided, that nothing in this act shall interfere with fire-escapes now 
in use approved by the proper authorities. 

FIRE-ESCAPES DETAILS OF CONSTRUCTION 

Philadelphia. (In accordance with the Act of Assembly, ap- 
proved June 3, 1885, and the ordinance of councils, approved Decem- 
ber 10, 1896, and supplemental thereto, the following formula will 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 165 

govern the matter of the design, construction, and erection of all 
tire-escapes hereafter required within the City of Philadelphia.) 

Platforms. The platforms shall consist of iron balconies not 
less than four (4) feet in width, the length of the platform to be 
dependent upon the size of the building and the number of its 
occupants. The Inspector of the district will designate the length 
of such platform, which shall extend in front of, and not less than 
nine (9) inches beyond, at least two windows, except in the case of 
a doorway leading from the floor level of the building to the floor 
level of the platform, in which case such doorway opening will 
suffice. Each platform shall be provided with a landing at the 
head and foot of each stairway of not less than twenty-four (24) 
inches. The stairway opening of the top platform to be no longer 
than sufficient to provide clear headway. The floors of balconies 
must be of wrought iron or steel, one and one-half (1J) inches by 
five-sixteenths ( T 5 ^) inch slats, not more than one and one-fourth (1J) 
inches apart, and be securely riveted to frame and brackets. The 
outside angle frame to be not less than two and one-fourth (2J) inch 
angle iron. If flooring is made of wire, same to be not less than 
No. 6 wire gauge, three-fourths (f) inch mesh, securely fastened 
to frame and brackets. All stair openings to be sufficient to provide 
clear headway. In all cases platforms must be designed, constructed 
and erected to safely sustain in all their parts a safe load, at a ratio 
of four to one, of not less than eighty pounds per square foot of 
surface. 

Railings. The outside top railing to extend around the entire 
length of the platform, and through the wall at each end, and to be 
properly secured by nuts and washers, or otherwise equally well 
braced and bolted. The top rail of the balcony must not be less than 
one (1) inch pipe iron, or material equally as strong. The bottom 
rail must not be less than three-fourths (|) inch pipe iron, or material 
equally as strong, well leaded into the wall. The standards must 
be not less than one (1) inch pipe iron, or material equally as strong, 
and must be securely connected with top and bottom rail and plat- 
form frame. The standards must also be securely braced by means 
of outside brackets at suitable intervals. Railings in all cases to 
extend around the stairway openings and be continuous down the 
stairway. The height of the railing to be not less than three (3) 
feet. 

Stainvays. Stairways must be designed, constructed and erected 
to safely sustain in all their parts a safe load, at a ratio of four to 
one, of not less than one hundred (100) pounds per step, with the 
exception of the tread, which must safely sustain, at a ratio of four 
to one, a load of two hundred (200) pounds per tread. The treads 



166 CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 

to be not less than six (6) inches wide and the rise not more than 
ten (10) inches. The stairs in all cases to be not less than twenty- 
four (24) inches wide, and the strings or horses to be not less than 
three (3) inch channels of iron or steel, or other shape equally as 
strong and to rest upon and be fastened to a bracket ; said bracket 
to be fastened through the wall as otherwise provided for brackets. 
The strings or horses to be also securely fastened to the balcony at 
the top. The steps in all cases to be double riveted or bolted to the 
strings or horses. 

Brackets. Brackets must not be less than two and one-fourth 
(2^) inch angle iron, or material equally as strong, not more than three 
(3) feet apart, braced by means of not less than one (1) inch square, 
or one and one-fourth (1J) inch round iron, let into the wall at least 
four (4) inches, with shoulders on brace, and three (3) inch washer 
between shoulder and wall, and to extend down the wall four (4) 
feet from the top of the bracket, and out on the bracket angle three 
(3) feet from the wall. In all cases the bracket angle directly under 
the balcony must be secured to the wall by means of bolts of suitable 
size passing through the wall, and four (4) inch washers. There 
must also be a bar of wrought iron or steel two (2) inches by three- 
eighths (|) inch, let into the wall four (4) inches edgewise, between 
the brackets, and riveted to the balcony for the floor to rest upon. 
Whenever the bottom balcony is supported by means of suspension 
rods (riveted or bolted) to the balcony above, the brackets (of the 
above balcony) shall be increased in size to meet the increased 
strain occasioned thereby. The bottom balcony to have a drop 
ladder of same construction as the stairway, to be hinged and hung 
with a counterweight. Whenever the drop ladder is upheld by 
means of a counterbalance weight suspended to a chain, such weight 
shall hang within the platform railing if practicable. 

In all cases the bolts, rivets and other material used shall be pro- 
portioned so as to develop the full strength of the members connected 
by them. 

All the parts of such fire-escapes must receive not less than two 
coats of paint one coat in the shop, and one after erection. 

HEIGHT OF TENEMENT HOUSES, LIMITATION OF 

Boston. (Chapter 419 of the Laws of 1892 of the Commonwealth 
of Massachusetts as amended.) Sections 25 and 107. The external 
walls of every building hereafter erected for or converted to use as 
a tenement or lodging house shall be of brick, stone or iron, and 
such walls of any such building which is not situated on an open 
space more than 20 feet in width shall not exceed 30 feet in height. 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 167 

Section 25. No building or other structure hereafter erected shall 
be of a height exceeding two and one-half times the width of the 
widest street on which the building or structure stands, whether 
such street is a public street or place, or a private way, existing at 
the passage of this act or thereafter approved as provided by law, 
nor exceeding 125 feet in any case ; such width to be the width 
from the face of the building or structure to the line of the street 
on the other side, or if the street is of uneven width, such width 
to be the average width of the part of the street opposite the building 
or structure. If the effective width of the street is increased by an 
area or set-back the space between the face of the main building 
and the lawfully established line of the street may be built upon to 
the height of 20 feet. 

HEIGHT OF TENEMENT HOUSES, LIMITATION OF 

Buffalo. (Revised City Charter relating to the Department 
of Health, in force August 1, 189T.) Title VIII, Section 129. The 
exterior walls of every building hereafter erected for or converted 
to use as a tenement or lodging house, and not having an exposure 
on an open space, street, court or passageway more than 20 feet in 
width, shall not exceed 30 feet in height. 

HEIGHT OF TENEMENT HOUSES, LIMITATION OF 

Milwaukee. (An ordinance (No. 53), relating to the construc- 
tion, maintenance and inspection of buildings in the City of Mil- 
waukee, passed May 13, 1895, as amended by (No. 28) an ordinance 
to amend an ordinance relating to the construction, maintenance 
and inspection of buildings in the City of Milwaukee, passed April 
13, 1896.) Section 13. The face of any building hereafter built 
in the City of Milwaukee shall not exceed in height two and two- 
thirds the distance from such face to the centre of the street. 

HEIGHT OF TENEMENT HOUSES, LIMITATION OF 

Washington. (Building regulations of the District of Columbia, 
made and promulgated July 31, 1897, in accordance with authority 
vested in the Commissioners of the District of Columbia by an Act 
of Congress, approved June 14, 1878.) Section 40. No building 
shall be erected or altered on any street in the District of Columbia 
to exceed in height above the sidewalk the width of the street in its 
front, and in no case shall a building exceed 90 feet in height on a 
residence street, nor 110 feet on a business street. The height of 
buildings on corner lots shall in all cases be regulated by the limita- 
tions governing on the broader street. The width of the streets in 



168 CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 

so far as it controls the height of buildings under this law may be 
held to be the distance between building lines. 

LICENSING OF ARCHITECTS 

Chicago. (An ordinance to regulate the construction of build- 
ings, passed by the City Council, March 28, 1898.) Section 36. 
No permit shall be granted, or plans approved, unless such plans 
shall be signed and sealed by a licensed architect as provided in " An 
act to provide for the licensing of architects and regulating the 
practice of architecture as a profession in the State of Illinois," 
approved June 3, 1897. 

LICENSING OF BUILDERS AND CONTRACTORS 

Chicago. (An ordinance to regulate the construction of build- 
ings, passed by the City Council, March 28, 1898.) Section 219. At 
the expiration of thirty days after the printing and publication of 
said building ordinances each and every person, agent, firm, 
company or corporation engaged within the limits of the City of 
Chicago in the construction or repairing of the whole or any part 
of buildings and appurtenances, shall be and he or it is hereby 
required to obtain a license from the City of Chicago, which shall 
permit him or it to engage thereafter in the business of contracting 
for the erection of buildings and appurtenances or parts thereof. 

Every application for such license shall be made on printed 
blanks furnished by the city, and shall set forth the name and 
residence or place of business of the applicant, and the nature of the 
contracts which he or it desires to engage in for a period of one 
year thereafter, and shall be accompanied by a fee of $2. 

The city shall thereupon issue a license in due form, permitting 
the applicant to engage in the business of contracting for the erec- 
tion of buildings and appurtenances, or parts thereof, in the City of 
Chicago, for one year from the date of such license, which date shall 
be the first day of May in the year in which such license is applied 
for, and no license shall be granted for any period less than a year, 
and all licenses shall run from the first day of May in each year until 
the 30th day of April in the succeeding year. The applicant shall 
also receive, free of charge, with his license, a copy of said compila- 
tion of the building ordinances, and all building ordinances which 
may be passed after the publication of said compilation. 

Nothing herein shall be construed as to make any change in the 
proper fees as now prescribed in the city ordinances to be paid to 
the City of Chicago for every 25 feet of street frontage so used. 

Any person, agent, firm, company or corporation, who shall after 



CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 169 

the date fixed as aforesaid for the issuance of licenses, engage in the 
business of building in the City of Chicago, under contracts for the 
whole or any part of a building and appurtenances, without first 
having obtained a license therefor, as aforesaid, shall be deemed 
guilty of a misdemeanor for each day's violation of the provisions of 
this ordinance, and shall be subject to a fine for each offence of not 
less than $25 nor more than $100. 

All fees and fines collected under the provisions of this ordinance 
shall be set aside and constitute a fund to defray the expense of the 
compilation and publication of the building ordinances of the city, 
as aforesaid, and from time to time, as may be required, and any sur- 
plus shall from time to time be paid into the general fund. 

OVER-CROWDING AMOUNT OF AIR SPACE 

Washington. (Regulations concerning the use and occupancy 
of buildings and grounds, promulgated by the Commissioners of the 
District of Columbia, April 22, 1897.) Section 4. No room in 
any tenement or lodging house shall be occupied as a sleeping room, 
unless there are at least 400 feet cubic contents for each person therein, 
not less than ten years of age. The Health Officer is hereby author- 
ized, if in his judgment it is necessary to secure compliance with 
this requirement, to cause to be affixed to or near the door of each 
such room a placard stating the number of occupants allowed under 
this regulation, and shall, in any case, where such placard has been 
affixed, cause a notice stating such number to be served on the 
owner, agent or person having charge of the premises. No person 
having authority to prevent shall permit to occupy any such room as 
a sleeping-room any greater number of persons than are specified on 
such placard, if any, or otherwise authorized under this section. 

PERCENTAGE OF LOT AND OPEN SPACES 

Philadelphia. (Section 2 of the Act of Assembly of June 7, 
1895.) Every tenement house hereafter erected, altered or con- 
structed in any city of the first class, shall have attached to it in the 
rear or at the side an open space equal in area to at least 20 per 
centum of the entire area of the lot upon which said tenement house 
is erected, which open space shall be unobstructed by any overhang- 
ing structure, except fire-escapes required by law, unless, however, 
such tenement house shall be erected upon a corner of two streets, 
neither of which is less than 20 feet in width, in which case said 
tenement house shall have an open space attached to it in the rear or 
at the side next the adjoining lot, equal in area to at least 10 per 
centum of the entire area of the lot upon which said tenement house 



170 CONDITIONS IN AMERICAN CITIES 

is erected, which open space shall be unobstructed by any overhanging 
structure, except fire-escapes required by law ; and any such tene- 
ment house which shall be erected upon a lot bounded on three sides 
by streets not less than 20 feet in width may be erected to cover the 
entire area of said lot ; provided, that every window opening from the 
living-rooms in said tenement house shall open upon one of such streets. 
Such open space attached to every such tenement house shall be at 
least 8 feet in width throughout its entire length. No court or 
open space between tenement houses or between wings of a tenement 
house shall be of a less width than 12 feet. If such tenement house 
shall be built upon a lot which is bounded upon two opposite sides by 
streets, then at least one end of every such open space shall abut upon 
one of such streets. Every court or shaft which shall be built for the 
purpose of furnishing light or air to any such tenement house shall 
open upon one side into a street or into the yard or open space, except 
such shafts as may be necessary for the ventilation of water-closets 
or bath-rooms. 

PERCENTAGE OF LOT OPEN SPACES 

'Buffalo. (Revised City Charter relating to the Department of 
Health, in force August 1, 1897.) Title VIII, Sections 132 and 122. 
Every tenement or lodging house must have one or more yard- 
courts, and may have supplementary or inner courts. The sum of 
the areas of these courts must equal at least 25 per cent of the build- 
ing lot, except in case of a corner lot, when such area shall not be 
less than 10 per cent of the lot. If in any case 25 per cent of the 
building lot shall not equal the size of yard-court as herein provided, 
then such lot shall not have a tenement or lodging house erected or 
maintained thereon. This section shall not apply to buildings now 
used as tenements. 

Definition of "Yard- Court." A "Yard-Court" means any court 
not open to the public way or park, and contained entirely on the 
owner's lot, but not less than 10 feet wide, and containing at least 250 
square feet in area. 

Definition of "Supplementary Court." A "Supplementary 
Court " means any court opening on one side to a yard-court, public 
way or park, and must be at least 6 feet wide for one and two story 
buildings, and at least 8 feet wide for three and four story buildings, 
and one foot wider for each additional story above four stories. 

Definition of " Inner Court" "Inner Court "means any court 
in the interior of a building for the purpose of a light well, but in 
no case are inner courts to be less than 8 feet wide and 10 feet deep. 

Definition of " Court" A "Court" means an open space, yard 
or area open to the sky undiminished from ground to roof. 



HOUSING CONDITIONS AND TENEMENT LAWS 
IN LEADING EUROPEAN CITIES 

BY WINTHKOP E. DWIGHT ' 



HOUSING CONDITIONS AND TENEMENT LAWS 
IN LEADING EUROPEAN CITIES 



LEGISLATION dealing with the problems of the housing of the 
poorer classes in large cities had its beginnings at about the same 
period in England and in the United States. The general tendency 
and scope, however, of foreign legislation, both in Great Britain and 
on the Continent, has been somewhat different from the develop- 
ment of legislation in New York. The central problem in foreign 
cities has been different in its nature. In New York the problem of 
housing the poor has narrowed down to the one main problem of the 
tenement house ; and legislation has been concerned almost entirely 
with one particular type of habitation, the narrow four to six story 
tenement, built ordinarily on the 25-foot lot. This narrow, high 
tenement house, however, is a type uncommon in the larger foreign 
cities. In the English cities, for instance, the poorer population is 
housed almost entirely in two to three story houses ; this is true of 
London and of the larger manufacturing cities, such as Liverpool, 
Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, and others. In the larger 
Continental cities, notably Brussels, Vienna, Paris, and Berlin, the 
poorer classes live mainly in buildings which are much higher and 
approach somewhat nearer to the New York type of tenement, 
although rarely built on so narrow a lot. 

The same statement is increasingly true of many German cities; 
for the industrial development of the last ten years, which has built 
up a circumference of factories about such cities as Dusseldorf, 
Nuremberg, and Leipzig has crowded a vastly increased poor popula- 
tion into the poorer districts of those cities. It is only in the two 
great Scotch cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow, that the genuine type 
of tenement house known in New York is common, and that the 
tenement house problem exists in its acute form. 

As a result of these different conditions the evil of over-crowding 
in foreign cities takes a somewhat different form from that existing 
in New York. The worst form of over-crowding in England and on 
the Continent is one-room over-crowding, especially in the low two 
or three story houses which constitute so large a part of the slums 
of foreign cities. 

173 



174 CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 

As a result of these conditions, the more important part of foreign 
legislation of the last ten years has been directed to the end of 
clearing out insanitary areas and groups of houses, and at the same 
time, as far as possible, to provide new and proper accommodations for 
the persons who had been crowded into these areas and houses. A 
great deal has been done, especially in Great Britain, in the direction 
of demolishing insanitary buildings and in clearing out large insani- 
tary areas in many of the largest cities. The problem of providing 
new accommodations for the persons thus displaced has proved more 
difficult, and only partial success has been obtained in this line; 
although it is a simpler problem in these foreign cities than it would 
be in New York, because much taller municipal-built houses may be 
erected on areas previously occupied by the ordinary type of low- 
built houses. 

The experience of these foreign cities and the results of this sort 
of legislation are of some importance in their bearing on any possi- 
ble experiments in this line which may be made in this country. It 
is intended in this report to state briefly the general scope of this 
legislation in England and on the Continent, and to describe what has 
been recently accomplished as the result of such legislation. 
Great In Great Britain the last ten years have seen a notable tendency 

Britain. ^o unify the various laws bearing on the question of housing in cities. 
The scattered and often conflicting laws which have been passed at 
different times and with reference to particular cases have been 
largely taken up and codified into general laws of wider scope. In 
1890 the Housing of the Working Classes Act was passed, which 
superseded the Torrens Acts of 1868 and the Cross Acts of 1875, and 
provided a general law applicable with minor differences of detail to 
Scotland and Ireland as well as England. The object of this act is 
to provide a general method of attacking the evils which can only 
be cured by a complete removal of the house or group of houses 
where they occur. This act served in part as a model for the New 
York law on the subject of condemnation of tenements unfit for habi- 
tation, which forms part of the law passed as the result of the in- 
vestigations of the New York Tenement House Commission of 1894. 
The scope of the Housing of the Working Classes Act is as fol- 
lows : The general scheme is that upon presentment by the proper 
health officer of a city, the local authority shall take measures to 
remove the evil. 

Part I places upon the local authority the duty of preparing and 
carrying into effect (after parliamentary sanction) schemes for the 
improvement of insanitary areas which are of such a size as to be of 
general importance to the whole county. Dwellings must be pro- 
vided on the area dealt with for at least half the persons displaced. 




BOUNDARY STREET BUILDINGS. 




IDENDEN COTTAGES, EAST GREENWICH. 
MUNICIPAL MODEL TENEMENTS LONDON. 



CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 



175 



Part II (Sections 32-34) provides that the vestries and district Great 
boards may take proceedings before a magistrate for the closing and Britain - 
demolition of single houses which are unfit for habitation. Sections 
38 and 40 enable the vestries and district boards and the County 
Council to undertake schemes for improvement of areas which 
are too small to be of general importance to the whole county. By 
Section 38 the vestries and district boards also have power to pur- 
chase and demolish obstructive buildings, that is, buildings which 
by reason of their proximity to or contact with other buildings 
stop ventilation or prevent measures being carried out to remedy 
nuisances in respect to other buildings. This part of the act does 
not provide for the housing of the persons displaced, but the London 
County Council in 1899 adopted a resolution to the effect that 
" housing accommodations shall be provided for a number of persons 
equal to that of the working classes displaced by any scheme under 
the Housing of the Working Classes Act of 1890, or under the pro- 
visions of any improvement act, but not necessarily in the immediate 
neighborhood of the displacement, due consideration being given to 
the needs of those living on any particular area." 

Part III enables the Council to purchase by agreement, or with 
consent of the Secretary of State or Parliament, by compulsion, 
houses for the accommodation of persons of the working class, or 
land for the erection of such houses. 

The following is a brief statement of what has been done under 
this and similar legislation in Great Britain : 

The London County Council has, up to 1900, carried on the fol- London 
lowing operations under this act : 



AREA CLEARED 
(The date of approval by Parliament is given in 
each case) 


PERSONS 
DISPLACED 


PERSONS 
REHOUSED 


ESTIMATED 
COST 


Areas cleared by the Council under 








Part I of the Act : 








Boundary Street (Bethnal Green), 1890, 


5,719 


5,240 (4,566 on 








the cleared 








area and 144 








on the Gold- 








smith Row 








Site) 


279,840 


Church way (St. Pancras), 1895, 


1,086 


580 


61,650 


Clare Market (Strand), 1895, 


3,038 


2,250 (750 on 








the cleared 








area, 1,500 








on the Mill 








Bank E s - 








tate) 


216,500 



176 



CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 



London. 



AREA CLEARED 








(The date of approval by Parliament is - ; ven in 
each case) 


PERSONS 
DISPLACED 


PERSONS 
REHOUSED 


ESTIMATED 
COST 


Under Part II of the Act (cleared by 








the Council with contribution from 








the vestries) : 








Brooks Market (Holborn), 1891, 




60 


5,, 


Mill Lane (Deptford), 1892, 


715 


550 


39,500 


Ann Street Poplar, 1893, 


261 


180 


8,800 


Falcon Court (South wark), 1895, 


800 


500 upon two 








sites in the 








neighbor- 








hood 


15,500 


Areas cleared by vestries under Part 








II of the Act, with contribution from 








the Council : 








Green Street and Gun Street (South- 








wark), 1891, 


374 


216 


2,170 


Norfolk Square (Islington), 1892, 


214 


101 


7,834 


Moira Place and Plumbers Place (Shore 









Ditch), 1893, 


533 


400 


51,300 


London Terrace (St. George's in the 








East), 1893, 


100 


none 


3,200 


Queen Catharine Court (Ratcliff), 1893, 


109 


108 


6,400 


King John's Court (Limehouse), 1897, 
Pulford Street and Braddon Street 


Not known 


96 


16,300 


(Rotherhithe), 1897, 


730 


550 


29,120 


Brantome Place (St. Pancras), 1896, 


719 


288 


16,940 


Prospect Terrace (St. Pancras), 1896, 


581 


140 


11,273 


Schemes not yet approved by the Com- 








mittee, 1898 : 








Chapel Grove (St. Pancras), 


501 


340 


27,030 


Eastnor Place (St. Pancras), 1898, 


189 


108 


3,969 



A description of the nature of the work done in these various 
schemes will be found in the Annual report of the County Council 
for the year 1899. As the intention of this present report is to 
state the amount of work which has been done, with special ref- 
erence to the persons displaced and to be rehoused, it has seemed 
unnecessary to enter into details as to the construction and character 
of the houses built upon the areas cleared under the Housing of the 
Working Classes Act. Full descriptions will be found in Dr. Gould's 
Special Report for the United States Commissioner of Labor, 1895, 
and in the Annual Reports of the London County Council. There 
has been great complaint as to the fact that housing accommodations 
were provided for so small a proportion of the persons displaced by 
these operations. The figures in the above table show that where 
about 15,000 persons have been displaced, hardly more than 10,000 
have been rehoused. The London County Council during the years 
1890 to 1898 seemed to regard its chief function to be the carrying 
out of schemes under Part I and Part II of the act, and left prac- 
tically unused the powers granted by Part III of the act which 



I 




COTTAGES GEORGE LEIGH STREET. 




OLDHAM ROAD BUILDINGS. 
MANCHESTER -MUNICIPAL MODEL TENEMENTS. 



CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 177 

authorized the purchase of new sites and erection of houses. A London, 
movement of considerable vigor has been instituted in the public 
press during the last year with a view to forcing the County Council 
to begin extensive works of this nature under Part III of the act. 

In addition to these operations under the Act of 1890, the County 
Council completed works which had been commenced by the Metro- 
politan Board of Works as follows : 





PERSONS 
DISPLACED 


PERSONS 
REHOUSED 




562 


200 


Hughes Fields, Deptford 


1,786 
850 


666 
530 


Skelton Street, St. Giles 


1,227 


616 









In Manchester the Municipal Council in 1889 began to apply the Man- 
provisions of the Artisans and Laborers' Dwellings Improvement acts Chester, 
to unhealthy areas in the city. It is under these acts, and under the 
Housing of the Working Classes Act that the Manchester Council 
has attacked the following insanitary areas in the city : 

Oldham Road Area. Houses demolished, 239; persons displaced, 1250; per- 
sons rehoused, 848; cost of clearing, 97,481 ; cost of buildings, 60,577. Block 1 
of this area in 1899-1900 was in process of building, and will accommodate 425 
persons. The estimated cost of the buildings in this block will be about 25,000. 

Pollard Street Area. Houses demolished, 85; persons displaced, 396; persons 
to be rehoused, 448 ; cost of clearance, 9546 ; cost of buildings, 26,220. 

Lord Street Area. Houses demolished, 26; persons displaced, 104; cost of 
clearance, 2280. 

Love Lane Area. Houses demolished, 30; persons displaced, 120; cost 2856. 

Chester Street Area. Houses demolished, 133; persons displaced, 368; cost 
15,141 ; buildings to accommodate 324 persons; estimated cost 11,750. 

Pctt Street Area. Houses demolished, 127; persons displaced, 399; cost, 
14,621; houses to accommodate 321 persons, at an estimated cost of 16,756. 

Harrison Street Area. Houses demolished, 79 ; persons displaced, 250 ; cost, 
5147; houses to accommodate 363 persons, at an estimated cost of 16,980. 

Full details as to plans of buildings, etc., are contained in the 
report published by the Sanitary Committee of the Municipal Coun- 
cil of Manchester in 1899. 

In Liverpool most of the properties acquired for sanitary improve- Liverpool, 
ments have been purchased under the powers of the Liverpool Sani- 
tary Amendment Act of 1864, under which the Medical Officer has 
made fifteen presentments. New dwellings have been erected, partly 
under the Artisans and Laborers' Dwellings Act of 1875, and partly 
under Part III of the Housing of the Working Classes Act of 1890. 

VOL. I N 



178 



CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 



Liverpool. 



Salford. 



Edinburgh. 



The following table gives a complete statement of the houses which 
have been demolished and those built by the corporation, with esti- 
mate of the number of persons displaced and rehoused up to July, 
1899, since the first steps were taken in the direction of providing 
for rehousing. 

Statement of the number of persons displaced from houses which 
have been demolished ; and of provision made for rehousing such 
persons, from date of sanction of first loan, viz., llth August, 1885, 
to July, 1899 : 



Houses demolished 



4,150 

3| persons per house. 



Estimated population displaced 



12,450 
1,383 

13,833 



Apartments built on land forming the sites of demolished 

houses and sold by the corporation to builders . 793 

5 persons per apartment. 
- 3,965 

Victoria Square, 272, at 4 per- 



Erected by 



a 3J 

persons per apartment . 



294 



Grand total persons provided for 



1,382 
5,347 



The municipal authorities in Salford under the act of 1890 have 
made clearings, displacing 1123 persons, and have provided for the 
housing of these persons under Part III of the act by building a lodg- 
ing house to accommodate 285, and by the erection of 68 tenement 
dwellings to accommodate 340 persons. A description of houses so 
constructed will be found in the Report of the Sanitary Committee 
of the City of Leeds, of a tour of inspection made in 1899, and the 
same report contains a detailed description of the schemes of chief 
importance carried out in Liverpool. 

In Edinburgh the municipal authorities began to act under the 
powers granted by the Housing of the Working Classes Act of 1890 
in 1893. A large area in the thickly built section of High Street and 
Canongate, was bought and cleared out at a total cost of 92,887 for 
acquisition of the property, and 6409 for the demolition of buildings 
and cutting of the roadways. The exact figures are not obtainable 
as to the number of persons displaced by this clearance. Unfortu- 
nately, it was undertaken at a time when the North British Railway 
Company was making large improvements and extensions of the 
Waverley Station, which resulted in the displacement of a large num- 




MUNICIPAL MODEL TENEMENTS. 




TYPE OF SLUM BUILDING. 
LIVERPOOL. 



CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 



179 



her of people. A second operation under the provisions of the act Edinburgh, 
is the clearance of the Allen Street and Pike Street areas, which is 
now being carried through ; 78 houses will be demolished, the esti- 
mated cost will be 12,350, and 81 houses will be provided on the 
same area. A third scheme is proposed for clearing out the Lower 
Greenside and Simon Square areas at a cost of 65,530. 

The provision which has been made and is being made for re- 
housing the occupants of houses destroyed is markedly inadequate. 
The total number of houses built by the corporation up to January 
1, 1900, was 237, with accommodations for about 725 people, a 
wholly inadequate figure. The Burgh Engineer and the public 
press are strongly urging the purchase under the powers granted 
by Part III of the Housing of the Working Classes Act of large 
suburban areas for the erection of houses for the poor. 

The municipal authorities in Glasgow have not made use of the Glasgow. 
powers granted by the Housing of the Working Classes Act of 1890, 
but have carried on schemes for improving insanitary areas under 
the Glasgow Improvements Act of 1866 (29 Viet. Ch. 85), the Glas- 
gow Improvements Act of 1871 (34 and 35 Viet. Ch. 74), which is 
substantially an extension of the Act of 1866, the Glasgow Improve- 
ments Amendment Act of 1880 (43 and 44 Viet. Ch. 11), and the Glas- 
gow Corporation Improvements and General Powers Act of 1897 
(60 and 61 Viet. Ch. 215). The acts of 1866 and that of 1897 are 
special acts passed to enable the corporation to deal with special 
insanitary areas. The acts of 1871 and of 1880 extended the powers 
granted by the act of 1866. Under the act of 1866 the folloAving 
table gives the figures for what has been accomplished up to the 
year 1900 : 



HOUSES ERECTED BY THE CITY IMPROVEMENTS DEPARTMENT 



SOUTH CENTRAL DISTRICT : 
One-room apartments . 
Two-room apartments . 
Three-room apartments 

Total number apartments . 

NORTH CENTRAL DISTRICT: 
One-room apartments . 
Two-room apartments . 
Three-room apartments 

Total number apartments . 



186 

432 

81 

699 



87 

222 

44 

"353 



WESTERN DISTRICT: 

One-room apartments . . 30 

Two-room apartments . . 84 

Three-room apartments . 7 

Total number apartments . 121 

TOTALS : 

One-room apartments . . 303 

Two-room apartments . . 738 

Three-room apartments . 132 

Total number apartments . 1173 



Only two of the original areas intended to be rebuilt by the 1866 
act were still in an incomplete condition at the beginning of the 
year 1900. Under the Improvements Act of 1897, areas aggregat- 
ing about 18 acres have been acquired out of a total authorized 



180 



CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 



Glasgow. 



The 
Continent. 



figure of 25 acres for the purpose of erecting houses thereon. 
The amount authorized by the act of 1897 for improvements was 
.156,000, of which 100,000 might be applied to the purchase of 
ground and erection of houses for the poor. 

Continental governments have sought to provide measures look- 
ing to the better housing of the working classes, not by directing 
municipalities to demolish insanitary quarters, but by passing laws 
for the financial support of schemes for the building of model houses. 
The great works of demolition and reconstruction which have been 
carried through on such a large scale in Paris in the last thirty 
years, and in Vienna in the last twenty years, arid which are still 
in progress in those cities, have had for their main object the beau- 
tifying of the cities, and not the better housing of the working 
classes. Indeed the destruction of old property for the construction 
of the great boulevards of Paris has been the cause of worse over- 
crowding of the poor in other districts, and the same fact has been 
true in a less degree in Vienna. In fact the much talked of scheme 
in Vienna by which a certain percentage of taxation is remitted, 
provided the owner will erect a building of a better and more ex- 
pensive type, has tended directly to the construction of tenements 
where the room rentals are considerably beyond the means of the 
poorer classes of working people. From the point of view of put- 
ting up better and sanitary houses for the poor, this measure has 
certainly proved a failure. 

The best example of laws for encouragement of the building of 
houses for the poor is the Belgium law of 1889, which was passed 
largely as the result of a series of strikes and disturbances in 1886, 
which centred in Brussels, and called attention to the unendurable 
conditions which existed in the larger cities of Belgium. The law, 
which is quoted in the report of the New York Tenement House 
Commission of 1894 and in Dr. E. R. L. Gould's Special Report for 
the United States Commissioner of Labor on the housing question 
in 1895, provided for the formation of semi-official local authorities 
(Committees of Patronage) whose field of activity was the study of 
sanitary conditions. In 1894 these committees met in conference at 
Antwerp, and passed resolutions urging the codification of health 
regulations in the by-laws of each city ; and recommended that 
municipal authorities should aid companies for building working- 
men's dwellings, and should themselves engage in such building 
enterprises. Local inquiries carried out by these committees show 
that in Brussels, out of 19,284 families, 9364 live in single rooms, 
of which rooms 2186 were attics and 200 cellars. The inquiry in 
Li&ge (published by Professor Mahain in 1896) showed that of 
about 2000 families 50 per cent live in single-room tenements. 




TYPES OF TENEMENT HOUSES WHICH THE CITY DESTROYS. 




MODEL TENEMENTS BUILT BY THE CITY TO REPLACE SLUM AREA. 
GLASGOW. 



CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 181 

The financial scheme contained in this Belgian law provided 
that the National Savings-bank (the Caisse Generale d'Epargne et 
de Retraite) might with the approval of the local Committee of 
Patronage invest portions of its funds in the purchase or construc- 
tion of houses for the poor. On December 31, 1896, the total 
amount thus loaned had reached a figure of nearly 3,050,000 francs. 
The loans are made to joint Societies of Credit or Construction, 
which conduct the building and purchasing operations. 

The results of this scheme have not been those which were 
expected. It has been a great success in small towns, but has 
been comparatively unsuccessful in the large cities, where its oper- 
ation was most needed. This has been so marked that for the last 
two years the public authorities in Brussels have begun to follow 
the English method of direct municipal intervention, and in 1897 
one of the local boards in that city completed the construction of 
a block of twenty-five model dwellings. 

In France, following the precedent established in Belgium, a law 
was passed in 1894 (law of November 30, 1894) providing for the 
voluntary formation of committees on cheap dwellings in cities, and 
authorizing certain public savings institutions to loan portions of 
their funds to companies for purchase and erection of model houses. 
By an act of 1895 (July 20, 1895) all public savings-banks are 
authorized to use their funds for " the purchase or construction of 
cheap dwellings ; or for loans to societies for construction of such 
dwellings, or Societies of Credit, which, though not constructing 
them themselves, have as their object the purchase or construction 
thereof." 

Complete statistics as to the results accomplished by these pro- 
visions of the French law are not obtainable, but, in general, very 
little has been done, as yet, in the direction of the purchase or con- 
struction of cheap dwellings, and comparatively few of the com- 
mittees on cheap dwellings have been formed in any cities. 

Summing up the results which have been accomplished by munic- 
ipal action under recent legislation in England and on the Con- 
tinent, in the direction of the better housing of the poor, we find 
that these results have not been wholly what had been expected. 
The experience in Great Britain has made apparent two great 
defects in the operation of the English law. The first and the 
lesser of these defects has been the slowness and expense of the 
procedure for condemning, purchasing, and demolishing insanitary 
areas. The second and worst defect has been the unsatisfactory 
provision for rehousing the persons displaced by the clearing out 
of such areas. As we have seen, the provisions which have been 



182 CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 

made for rehousing of persons so dispossessed have been in most 
cases quite inadequate, rarely providing for more than two-thirds 
of the former number of occupants. A still more serious difficulty 
has been observed especially in London, where it has been found in 
several cases, notably in the Boundary Street area, that the new 
houses erected by the municipality serve as accommodation for a 
higher class of working people, and that the lower and poorer class 
which had occupied the old houses has been simply forced into worse 
quarters, a result which is exactly the opposite of what was intended. 
Under the Continental schemes for financial aid to the building of 
model houses, so little has been actually done in the larger cities 
in the last ten years that the ultimate value of this legislation can 
hardly be said to have had a fair test. 

We do not find that in the leading foreign cities any attempt 
has been made to remedy the evil of over-crowding by a definite 
system of licensing tenement houses. It is doubtful if this would 
be possible under the law as it now stands in Great Britain. The 
nearest approach to a system of this description is the so-called 
Ticketed House System in Glasgow. 

THE GLASGOW TICKETED HOUSE SYSTEM 

In Glasgow, in order to secure the enforcement of the police 
regulations as to over-crowding, a law was passed in 1866 pro- 
viding (Sec. 378) that inspectors might enter "dwelling houses" 
(apartments), which consist of not more than three rooms, oc- 
cupied as sleeping rooms, for the purpose of measuring the cubic 
feet of air space contained in such rooms. Wherever this cubic 
contents does not exceed 2000 feet, the inspector is required to 
affix to the door of the dwelling house a ticket stating the number 
of such cubic feet of contents and the number of persons over eight 
years old who may occupy the rooms as sleeping apartments. At 
the time the act of 1866 was passed the law required that 300 cubic 
feet of air space should be provided for each adult in each sleeping 
apartment, and 150 cubic feet for each child under eight years of 
age. This requirement was raised in 1890, by the Glasgow Police 
Amendment Act of 1890 (Sec. 28), which provided that the stand- 
ard should be at least 400 cubic feet for each person over ten years 
of age and 200 cubic feet of space for every person under ten. 

The inspectors may enter any such apartments at any time of 
day or night to see if these provisions are being violated, and the 
system apparently works without friction. The metal tickets affixed 
to the doors of apartments are apparently not removed. The General 
Sanitary Inspector in Glasgow writes, confirming the fact that the 




COURTYARD. 




KITCHEN. 
GLASGOW - MUNICIPAL MODEL TENEMENTS. 



CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 183 

system is successful in its operation, in a letter under date of Octo- 
ber 18, 1900 : " I have six inspectors for this work, which they 
carry out in pairs, beginning about 11.30 o'clock P.M. and leaving off 
about 4.30 or 5 A.M. They report to me every day and have their 
cases gone over and selected for the court." 

The Secretary of the Glasgow Workmen's Dwellings Company 
Limited writes : " Speaking for myself, I give the most unhesitat- 
ing approval of the system of these domiciliary night visits of inspec- 
tion. One would think that the people would resent them, but they 
do not do so. Strictly speaking, the inspectors are not entitled to 
enter any house without a general warrant, but from many years' 
experience people find that the inspectors are not arbitrary or 
harsh. I have myself accompanied these inspectors on their night 
work. The people open their doors readily when the inspectors 
knock and shout through the keyhole, " Sanitary Inspector." Owing 
to the difficulty in finding suitable accommodation, the magistrates do 
not enforce the law as some of us think they should, many cases of 
over-crowding being dismissed with an admonition instead of being 
heavily fined." 

SANITARY AND BUILDING REGULATIONS IN FORCE IN LEAD- 
ING FOREIGN CITIES 

There are many features of the building and sanitary regula- 
tions in foreign cities which merit consideration from the student of 
the tenement house problem in New York, and it is part of the pur- 
pose of this report to give a condensed statement of such of these 
regulations as bear upon the more important factors of this problem. 
It will be noticed, however, that there is no distinct code of tene- 
ment regulations in these foreign cities ; on the contrary the build- 
ing and sanitary laws are framed to apply to all dwelling houses 
alike. Even in the Scotch cities, where the genuine type of tene- 
ment house exists, there has been little or no attempt to make a 
special set of rules applicable to this class of houses ; with the single 
exception that a more rigid system of inspection is provided for such 
houses to prevent undue over-crowding. A special treatment of the 
structural and sanitary features of the narrow tenement house has 
thus not been attempted in these foreign cities. But the laws affect- 
ing the broad question of height of houses, open spaces, and ventila- 
tion are of much interest as confirming the steps which have been 
taken in the same direction in New York. In general, it may be said 
that foreign cities have gone to a far greater extreme in restricting 
the height of buildings and enlarging the requirement for open 
spaces than has been attempted in New York. 



184 CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 

In the matter of provisions preventative of fire, it has seemed 
unimportant to collect the foreign building regulations on this 
subject. 

It is the testimony of all authorities that in both English and 
Continental cities a marked degree of efficiency is attained in enforc- 
ing both building and sanitary laws. The local authorities are 
provided with adequate corps of inspectors, and in general the work 
is greatly subdivided. Moreover, the building laws covering such 
essential points as ventilation, open spaces, and height of houses are 
mandatory, and leave no room for discretion on the part of the 
administering body. This is especially marked in the most recent 
building codes, such as the London Act of 1894, the Manchester 
Code of 1892, and the Berlin Code of 1897. 

The following are condensed statements of the more important 
regulations in the leading foreign cities, with some brief account of 
the provisions for their enforcement : 

(The building and sanitary regulations are contained in the 
Public Health (London) Act, 1891, 54 and 55 Viet. Chap. 76, and 
the London Building Act, 1894, 57 and 58 Viet. Chap. 218). 

Height of Houses. No new dwelling house may be erected so as 
to exceed 80 feet in height (exclusive of two stories in the roof), 
without the consent of the Council. 

The height of a dwelling house erected in a street less than 50 
feet wide, and laid out after 7th August, 1862, must not exceed the 
measurement between the front wall of the building and the oppo- 
site side of the street. 

Yards. There must be an open space behind each dwelling house 
not less than 10 feet deep nor less than 150 feet square exclusively 
belonging to the particular house. 

Cellar Rooms. In relation to the underground inhabited rooms 
which have been so great an evil in London, it is provided that no 
such room shall be inhabited which is not at least 7 feet high, with 
at least 3 feet of this height above the surface of the ground. The 
same provisions were made to apply to all underground rooms so 
used in buildings constructed before the passage of the act, but a 
limited discretion was given to the sanitary authority to dispense 
with the enforcement of these provisions provided the sanitary con- 
dition of the room was satisfactory. 

Enforcement of the Law. The Health Act of 1891 places the 
administration of the law in the hands of the local authority, that 
is, the vestries and the district boards. Upon presentation by the 
Medical Officer of Health of any vestry or district, of a certificate 
stating that insanitary conditions amounting to a nuisance exist, the 
local authority must commence proceedings to stop the nuisance. 



CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 185 

This is mandatory. These vestries and district boards employ London. 
Sanitary Inspectors who investigate the enforcement of both the 
London Health Act and the Housing of the Working Classes Act. 
In the 40 vestries or districts which make up the City of London, 
there are a total of 224 such inspectors. The London Government 
Act of 1899, which went into effect with the Municipal Elections 
of 1900, rearranges and regroups the districts and vestries, but 
the number of sanitary inspectors remains about the same. For 
defects in the structure of the dwelling house the owner is held 
liable. In case of insanitary conditions, either the owner, or the 
occupier, or both, may be served with notice to remedy the nuisance. 
The costs and expenses of all proceedings are recoverable from the 
owner of the premises, or if he does not pay, from the occupier, the 
latter being permitted to deduct the amount from the rent. 

(The building regulations in Manchester are regarded as con- Man- 
stituting with those of Glasgow the most complete building codes in ches t er - 
the United Kingdom. The Manchester regulations are contained in 
the By-laws of the City Council of April 2, 1890, August 1, 1894, 
and October 27, 1897.) 

Height of Buildings. In streets less than 30 feet wide, houses 
must not be more than two stories high. In streets over 30 and less 
than 36 feet wide, houses may be three stories high. (Act of Pt. 
1845, Sees. 31, 40.) 

Yards. Every house must have at the rear an open space of an 
aggregate extent of not less than 150 square feet with a least 
dimension of 10 feet. This least dimension, where the house is 35 
feet high, is increased to 25 feet, and in all cases the open space in 
the rear must extend across the whole width of the house. (By-law 
49, 1894.) 

Ventilation of Water-closets. One wall of each water-closet must 
be the external wall of the house and must have a window at least 1 by 
2 feet opening directly on the external air. (By-laws 62 to 64, 1894.) 

Enforcement of the Law. No house can be let or occupied as a 
dwelling house until, after inspection, it has been certified by the 
proper officer of the corporation to be in every respect fit for human 
habitation. (By-law 84, 1894.) 

(The building regulations in force in Liverpool are contained Liverpool, 
in the Liverpool Building Act of 1842, Liverpool Sanitary Acts of 
1846 and 1864, Liverpool Improvement Act of 1882, and the Liver- 
pool Corporation Acts of 1889 and 1893, with the By-laws of the 
City Council.) 

Height of Houses. The height of dwelling houses facing on the 
street must not exceed the width of the street. (Act of 1846, Sec. 
45.) 



186 



CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 



Liverpool. As to Houses built on Courts. No house built in a court shall be 

of greater height than 30 feet nor contain more than two stories above 
the ground floor. (Act of 1846, Sec. 47.) 

Yards. The area of the open space at the rear of each house 
must be at least 150 square feet ; the distance across such space to 
be not less than the height of the wall above the ground floor, and 
never to be less than 5 feet. Where houses are between 20 and 30 
feet in height, above the ground floor, this least dimension must be 
10 feet, and where a house exceeds 30 feet in height above the 
ground floor, must be 15 feet. The open space must extend 
throughout the entire rear of the house. (Act of 1889, By-law of 
January 8, 1890.) 

Enforcement of the Law. When the owner after notice given to 
him, fails to comply with the order of the City Council asking him 
to execute any work in conformity with the building regulations, the 
occupier of the dwelling house may cause such work to be done with 
the approval of the corporation, and the expense shall be a charge 
against the owner, which the occupier may deduct from the amount 
of his rent due the owner. (Act of 1882, Sec. 82.) 

Edinburgh. (The building regulations are contained in the Edinburgh 
Municipal and Police Acts, and the Edinburgh Improvement and 
Trust Acts from 1879 to 1896. The Public Health (Scotland) Act 
of 1897 applies to Edinburgh, and is enforced by the local authority, 
which is empowered to make by-laws in accordance with the act.) 

Height of Houses. No house on a street or court shall exceed 1-| 
times the width of such street or court, and no house in any case 
shall exceed 60 feet in height without the consent of the local author- 
ities. (E. M. and P. Act, 1891, Sec. 44, as amended by Act of 1893, 
Sec. 34, and E. I. and T. Act, 1896, Sec. 87.) 

Yards. There must be an open space at the rear of every house 
at least equal to three-fourths of the area to be occupied by the intended 
house, where the house is not more than four stories high. Where the 
house is higher than four stories, such area must equal that of the house. 
(E. M. and P. Amendment Act, 1891, as amended by Act of 1893, Sec. 
34.) Discretion is given to the Dean of Guild Court to modify this in 
cases where he finds that thorough ventilation is secured. 

Ventilation of Enclosed Spaces. Where houses are built forming 
a block which encloses a space of less than 18,000 square feet with a 
least dimension of 120 feet, there must be a clear opening of 15 feet 
high and 15 feet wide at two opposite points of the block to furnish 
through ventilation. (E. I. and T. Act, 1896, Sec. 87.) 

Water-closets. The owner must provide a water-closet in every 
dwelling house of more than two apartments. One side of the closet 
must be the external wall of the house, with a window of at least 4 



a tenement of four stories 
J- in a tenement of five stories 



CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 187 

square feet opening into the outward air. (E. M. and P. Amendment Edinburgh. 
Act, Sec. 8.) "Dwelling house" means any room or group of 
rooms used as a sleeping apartment. 

Staircases. In all houses where the common staircase is lighted 
from the roof, the relative dimensions of the well-hole and roof light 
must be as follows: 

Area of well-hole, 25 square feet . . . . 1 . tpnpmpnt of three St0 ries 

Area of roof light, not less than 120 square feet / m a ten 

Area of well-hole, 30 square feet . . 

Area of roof light, 130 square feet . . *, 

Area of well-hole, 36 square feet . . , 

Area of roof light, 140 square feet . 

(Building Rule No. 18, adopted under E. M. and #. Act, 1891, 
Sec. 56, as amended by Sec. 34 of Act of 1893.) 

Enforcement of the Law. The law is enforced under the super- 
vision of the Dean of Guild Court, who is the local authority, as to 
building and sanitary regulations. It is provided that ^within a 
month after a house has been completed, or has been altered, the 
owner must give notice to the Clerk of the Court that the house 
is ready for inspection, and after inspection by the Master of 
Works a certificate is granted that the house is suitable for occupa- 
tion, and until then it may not be occupied. 

(The building regulations are contained in the Glasgow Build- Glasgow, 
ing Regulation Act, 1892, 55 and 56 Viet. Chap. 239, together with 
the By-laws of the Glasgow Commissioners of Police.) 

Height of Houses. The height of house upon the street must 
not be greater than the width of the street. (By-law 4 under 
G. B. R. Act, 1892). 

Open Spaces. Provision for open spaces is secured by requiring 
that there must be in front of at least one-third of every window of 
any sleeping apartment, a free space equal to at least three-fourths 
of the height of the wall from the floor of the sleeping apartment 
to the roof of the building, measuring such space in a straight line 
perpendicular to the plane of the window. (Act 1866, Sec. 370; Act 
1892, Sec. 33.) 

Provisions for Through Ventilation of Blocks. Where streets are 
designed in any form which contemplates erection of buildings fac- 
ing outward, and placed so as to enclose a space of back ground, 
the owner must provide a space 15 feet wide through such enclosed 
space from street to street for the purpose of through ventilation. 
This does not apply where the enclosed space in the centre of the 
block contains upward of 16,200 square feet with a least dimension 
of 90 feet, and if the surrounding buildings are only three stories 
high, the provision does not apply when the enclosed space contains 



188 CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 

Glasgow. 12,600 square feet with a least dimension of 65 feet. (G. B. R. Act, 
1892, Sec. 16.) 

Over-crowding. To guard against over-crowding, an apartment 
of one room must contain 1000 cubic feet ; an apartment of two 
rooms, 1600 cubic feet ; an apartment of three rooms, 2400 cubic 
feet. Each sleeping apartment must be at least 9 feet 6 inches in 
height from floor to ceiling, if it is a ground floor room ; if on any 
other story, at least 9 feet. 

Not more than sixteen separate apartments shall be contained in 
any one tenement house, where there is an inside staircase, nor 
more than twenty-four where there is an outside staircase, nor may 
there be more than four separate apartments on any one floor. 
(G. B. R. Act, 1892, Sees. 35-37.) 

Staircase. Where the common staircase is not lighted from the 
external air, the well-hole of the stairs shall have the following 
dimensions : 

18 square feet in tenements of two stories 
23 square feet in tenements of three stories 
30 square feet in tenements of four stories 

and a proportionate increase in higher tenements. Such common 
staircase must be lighted by a skylight of a superficial area equal 
to five times the area of the well-hole of the stair, and every stair- 
case must be provided with sufficient means of ventilation at or near 
the roof. (By-law 35.) 

Water-closets. Every water-closet shall have a window of at 
least 4 square feet in area communicating directly with the external 
air. (G. B. R. Act, 1892, Sec. 54.) 

Provisions for Enforcement of the Law. No building shall be 
occupied until after inspection and report by the Master of Works, 
and the Sanitary Inspector appointed by the Dean of Guild Court, 
and wherever, through failure of the owner to make his building 
conform to the regulations, work is done by the Police Commis- 
sioners, the cost of such work is a lien upon the land. 

The operation of the ticketed house system of inspection in 
Glasgow is described fully in an earlier part of this report. 
Berlin. (The Building Police Act of August 9, 1897 has provided a 

revised Act of Building Regulations for the City of Berlin.) 

Height of Houses. Houses fronting on the street may be as high 
as the width of the street. Rear houses must not be more than 
6 metres (19 feet 8 inches) higher than the space which lies directly 
in front of them. 

Open Space. This is provided for by making the following pro- 
visions as to the amount of lot which may be built upon : 

One line is drawn 6 metres (19 feet 8 inches) distant from the 



CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 189 

street. A second line 32 metres (105 feet) distant. The whole of Berlin, 
the space included by the first line can be built upon. Seven-tenths 
of the space included in the second line may be built upon. Where 
the lot is deeper than 32 metres (105 feet), six-tenths of the space 
lying back of the second above-mentioned line can be built upon. 

All buildings which are separated from one another by a space 
and not by a mere party wall, must be separated throughout by a 
space at least 2|- metres (8 feet 1J inches) broad, provided there are 
no openings in the wall which face each other, and at least 6 metres 
(19 feet 8 inches) where there are such openings. 

(The scattered laws containing the building regulations which Paris, 
have been passed from 1840 to 1899 for Paris are published in pam- 
phlet form under the title of " Recueil de Reglements " (edited by 
M. Bouvare, 1900). A revision of the building regulations is in 
progress, but had not gone into force when this report was prepared. 
The proposed changes of main importance which will be made by 
this revision are that the number of stories allowed in any house 
shall be nine instead of seven ; at the same time the minimum area 
of courts or open spaces will be proportionately increased. 

Height of Houses. This is determined by the width of the 
street. Width of street 7.80 metres (25 feet 7 inches) or under, 
height of building 12 metres (39 feet 4 inches) ; width of street 
between 7.80 metres (25 feet 7 inches) and 9.74 metres (about 31 
feet 11 inches), height of building 15 metres (49 feet 2 inches) ; 
width of street between 9.74 metres (31 feet 11 inches), and 20 
metres (65 feet 7 inches), height of building 18 metres (59 feet) ; 
width of street 20 metres (65 feet 7 inches), height of building 
20 metres (65 feet 7 inches). (Act of July 23, 1884.) 

The same act provides that buildings may not contain in any 
case more than seven stories above the ground floor. (The entresol, 
or small second floor, is included in the seven stories.) And it is 
provided that in no building shall the height of the ground floor be 
less than 2.80 metres (9 feet 2 inches) nor shall the height of the 
other stories be in any case less than 2.60 metres (8 feet 6 inches). 

Open Spaces. Buildings under 18 metres (about 59 feet), the 
courts upon which apartments which are used as sleeping apartments 
open, must not be less than 30 square metres (about 323 square feet), 
with a least dimension of not less than 5 metres (16 feet 5 inches). 
In buildings over 18 metres (59 feet) in height, where the wings of 
the building are of the same height, such courts must have a mini- 
mum area of 40 square metres (430 square feet) with a least dimension 
of 5 metres (16 feet 5 inches). Where the wings are over 18 metres 
(59 feet) such courts must contain at least 60 square metres (646 
square feet) with a least dimension of 6 metres (19 feet 8 inches). 



190 CONDITIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIES 

Paris. A court which lights a kitchen only may have a minimum area of 

9 square metres (97 square feet), whose least diameter must be 
1.80 metres (about 5 feet 11 inches). (Act of July 23, 1884, Arti- 
cle 16 ff.)- 

Administration of the Law. The law is administrated under the 
authority of the Municipal Council by the Department of Police, 
which has passed ordinances providing special regulations as to 
sanitation, which must be observed by both owners and occupiers. 
An Act of April 13, 1850, which is still in force, provides that the 
Municipal Council shall appoint a commission for the investigation 
of insanitary dwelling houses, and shall report to the Municipal 
Council. After the Municipal Council has determined that a given 
house is insanitary, and has served notice on the proprietor, or the 
tenant, to remedy the insanitary condition, and the latter has failed 
to do so, a penalty covering the cost of the work necessary to be 
done to put the house in proper condition may be imposed upon the 
owner. Where the Municipal Council has determined that a house 
is in such condition as to be irreclaimable, it may issue a closing 
order. 



A STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S 
TENEMENT HOUSES 

BY LAWKENCE VEILLER 



A STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S 
TENEMENT HOUSES 



NOT since 1865 has any careful statistical study been made of the 
tenement houses of New York. The investigation that was then 
made by the Council of Hygiene of the Citizens' Association was 
undoubtedly the most thorough and careful inquiry of this kind that 
has ever been made. As a result of that inquiry, it became evident 
just how many tenement houses there were in each ward of the city, 
the total number of families living in such houses, the average num- 
ber of families to each house, as well as the total tenement house 
population, and the average number of people to each tenement 
house throughout each ward. 

The tenement house problem has now become so complex and the 
number of tenement houses in the city is so great that statistics, 
giving only the total number of such buildings and the total num- 
ber of persons occupying them, are insufficient to enable students of 
the subject to arrive at conclusions. In order to deal intelligently 
with this subject, such statistics should be available for every tene- 
ment house block, and indeed to be of the highest value the unit of 
comparison and inquiry should be the tenement house itself. The 
following tables of statistics have been prepared in the hope of 
making available such information in regard to the tenement houses 
in each ward as will enable persons to draw valuable conclusions. 
It would seem to be important to know, for instance, what propor- 
tion of the 82,000 tenement houses in Greater New York are 5 
stories in height, what proportion are 6 stories, and what proportion 
4 stories. Such information has never been available. Similarly, in 
considering the question of overcrowding, it is desirable to know 
just what number of tenement houses there are in the city contain- 
ing a large number of people, say as many as 150, in each house; the 
average number of people to a dwelling throughout the city is of 
slight value. If this information were available, it would be of 
great value in determining the needs of the more congested portions 
of our city. Where there is a tremendous population, for instance, 
it is evident that the need of playgrounds in such a district is 
greater than in a district where there is a less number. 
VOL. i o 193 



194 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 

To one studying the changes that have taken place in New York 
City's housing conditions, and that are still to take place, such infor- 
mation would be of great value in determining whether the condi- 
tions have improved or deteriorated. Having these facts in mind, 
the information given in the tables appended to this report has been 
prepared. 

It appears that there are, in the year 1900, in Greater New York, 
82,652 tenement houses, that 42,700 of these buildings are located 
on the Island of Manhattan, 4365 in the Bronx, 33,771 in Brooklyn, 
1398 in Queens, and 418 in Richmond. These buildings contain a 
population of 2,372,079, distributed as follows : in Manhattan, 
1,585,000 ; in the Bronx, 106,027 ; in Brooklyn, 653,431 ; in Queens, 
22,334, and in Richmond, 5287 ; from which it appears that the 
average number of persons to a tenement house in the Borough of 
Manhattan is 37.11 ; in the Bronx, 24.29; in Brooklyn, 19.34 ; in 
the Borough of Queens, 15.97 ; and in the Borough of Richmond, 
12.64. 

The tenement houses in the Borough of 'Manhattan are, to a very 
large extent, located in distinctively tenement house districts, with 
more definite boundaries than can be found in other cities, extending 
along the east and west sides of the city. This district on the east 
side may be said to begin at the Brooklyn Bridge. Its southern 
boundary is Dover Street and Chambers Street from the East River 
to Centre Street. The western boundary extends up Centre and 
Marion Streets to Houston ; from there over to the Bowery, and up 
the Bowery to Fifth Street, where the Bowery merges into Third 
Avenue. From there the western boundary of the tenement house 
district may be said to be Third Avenue as far up as the Harlem 
River at 129th Street. All east of this line, with one or two slight 
exceptions, are tenement house districts. The tenement house dis- 
tricts on the west side of the city are not so clearly defined as on the 
east side. Starting at Battery Place, there is a small district, ex- 
tending up Greenwich Street as far as Cedar, and extending to the 
west over to West Street. This district contains some of the oldest 
tenements in the city, and is the Syrian quarter. It is also occupied 
by Irish 'longshoremen and their families. The tenement house 
district begins again at about Laight Street, extending as far east as 
West Broadway, and as far north as Fourteenth Street ; from there 
branching off to the west toward Sixth Avenue, which continues to 
be the eastern boundary of these districts as far up as 22d Street. 
The eastern boundary at this point moves over to Seventh Avenue, 
and the line of division continues up Seventh Avenue as far as 52nd 
Street, from there extending up Ninth Avenue as far as 57th Street, 
where the eastern boundary line becomes Tenth Avenue up as far as 



VNfU* 



( MAT* OF* 

MANHATTAN 

SHOWING 

WARD AND TENEMENT HOUSE 
DISTRICT BOT7NDARIES. 



Tenement House Districts are located 

between boundaries indicated^- 

and each river. 




STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 195 

70th Street. This is practically the northern limit of what may be 
termed the distinctively tenement house districts of the west side of 
the city ; although there are several centres of tenement house popu- 
lation at 125th Street and above there, and similar groups distributed 
along Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. 

The tables appended to this report show the distribution of the 
tenement houses in the twenty-two different wards of Manhattan 
Island. It will be seen from these tables that the 42,700 tenement 
houses in Manhattan contain accommodations for as many as 404,135 
families, which is an average of over nine families to a house. This, 
however, gives no realization of the actual conditions. The only 
way that this can be appreciated is to consider each ward in 
detail. It is of great interest to note that there are in the city 
nearly 15,000 tenement houses, or over one-third of the whole 
number, which contain vacant apartments ; and that there are 
about 36,674 apartments generally vacant, which is 9 per cent of the 
whole number. 

Taking up in detail the different wards of the city, we find the 
following facts : 

FIRST WARD 

This ward comprises all of the city south of Liberty Street and 
Maiden Lane, and is occupied chiefly by business buildings, and con- 
tains a very limited number of tenement houses. It contains 173.8 
acres. There are altogether in this ward 216 tenement houses, 
which is but one -half of 1 per cent of all the tenement houses in 
the city. Ten of these buildings are new tenements. These 216 
tenement houses contain accommodations for 1827 families, or an 
average of 8.45 families to each house. Thirty-four tenement 
houses were found which contained a number of vacant apart- 
ments, the total number of such vacancies in this ward being 69. 
In these 216 houses there are living 1758 families, comprising a 
population of 7153 persons, of which 763 are children under five 
years of age. 

Taking up the buildings in detail, we find that in this ward 

37 of these tenement houses are 6 stories high 
83 of these tenement houses are 5 stories high 
67 of these tenement houses are 4 stories high 
27 of these tenement houses are 3 stories high 
(2 height not recorded) 

The number of apartments in each tenement house, as well as the 
population of each, is set forth in detail in the tables. This informa- 
tion is given for every ward in the Borough of Manhattan. 



196 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 

Comparing conditions in this ward to-day with conditions in 1864, 
nearly 40 years ago, we find that the number of tenement houses has 
decreased from 250 to 216, or 13.6 per cent. Although the actual 
number of such buildings has decreased in these 40 years, the aver- 
age number of families living in each house has increased. In 1864 
there was an average of 8.5, and in 1900 an average of 8.13. The 
total tenement house population in this ward in 1864 was 8564 ; in 
1900, 7153, a decrease of 1411. Notwithstanding this decrease of 
16 per cent in the total population of the ward, it appears that the 
average number of persons to a tenement house has remained practi- 
cally stationary in all this time, this number in 1864 being 34.25, 
while in 1900 it is 33.11. 



SECOND WARD 

The second ward is bounded on the south by Liberty Street and 
Maiden Lane, on the west by Broadway and Park Row, on the north 
by Park Row and Peck Slip, and on the east by the East River. It 
contains 78 acres. It consists almost entirely of business houses, 
and has been so constituted for many years. At the present time 
it contains only 7 tenement houses, containing accommodations 
for 35 families, and a population of the same number, with a total 
of 201 persons, or an average of 29 persons to a house. No statis- 
tics are available as to the tenement house population of this ward, 
or as to the number of tenement houses in it in the year 1864. 



THIRD WARD 

The third ward is bounded on the south by Liberty Street, on the 
east by Broadway, on the north by Reade Street, and on the west by 
the Hudson River. It contains 104 acres. It, like the second ward, 
is practically a business ward and contains almost no tenement houses, 
there being only 35 of such buildings at the present time. These 
buildings accommodate 232 families, and were found to be occupied 
by a population of 1031 persons, or an average of 29J persons to a 
house. In 1864 there were 54 tenement houses in the ward ; to-day 
there are 35, a decrease of 19 buildings, or 35 per cent, in 40 years. 
Although the number of buildings has decreased 35 per cent in this 
period, the total population living in such houses has not decreased 
in proportion. In 1864 there were 1248 persons living in tenement 
houses in this ward ; to-day there are 1031. That is, while the 
number of tenement houses has decreased 35 per cent, the tenement 
house population has decreased only 17 per cent, and the average 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 197 

number of persons to a house in that time has actually increased. 
In 1864: the average number of occupants to each house was 24.16 ; 
to-day it is 29.45. 

FOURTH WARD 

The fourth ward is bounded on the south by Peck Slip, on the 
north and west by Park Row, on the east *by Catherine Street and 
the East River. It contains 83.3 acres. It has been for many years 
one of the distinctively tenement house wards of the city, and has 
been popularly supposed to be losing that characteristic. Statistics, 
however, do not bear out this popular belief. This ward contains 
at the present time 471 tenement houses, containing accommodations 
for 4362 different families ; 95 of these buildings were found to con- 
tain a number of vacant apartments, the total of such vacancies in 
the ward being 265. The actual number of families living in the 
471 tenements was found to be 4097, comprising a population of 
19,335 persons, of whom 1661 were children under five years of age. 

Taking up the buildings of the ward in detail, we find that there 
are 

33 tenement houses 6 stories high 

185 tenement houses 5 stories high 

178 tenement houses 4 stories high 

69 tenement houses 3 stories high 

1 tenement house 2 stories and basement 

(5 height not recorded) 

A comparison with conditions in 1864 shows that the number of 
tenement houses in this ward, notwithstanding the popular impres- 
sion to the contrary, has decreased very slightly in these 40 years. 
There were 486 tenement houses in the ward in 1864 ; to-day there 
are 471 of such buildings, showing a decrease of 15 houses, or 3 per 
cent. Although the number of tenement houses has decreased, the 
total number of families living in such buildings has increased from 
3636 in 1864 to 4097 in 1900, and the average number of families 
to each tenement house has increased from 7.5 in 1864 to 8.7, while 
the total tenement house population has increased from 17,611 in 
1864 to 19,335 in 1900, the average number of persons living in a 
tenement house having increased from 35.25 in 1864 to 41.05 in the 
present year. 

FIFTH WARD 

This ward is bounded on the south by Reade Street, on the east 
by Broadway, on the north by Canal Street, and on the west by the 
Hudson River. It contains 160.2 acres. It is a district given up 



198 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 

almost entirely to business, and in which there is a very small num- 
ber of tenement houses. Each year this number grows less. At 
the present time there are 234 of such buildings in the ward, which 
contain accommodations for 1598 families. There are' 33 buildings 
containing vacant apartments, the number of such vacancies in the 
ward amounting to 62. There were found 1536 families living in 
tenement houses, comprising a population of 7777, of which 1125 
are children under five years of age. 

Taking up in detail the buildings in this ward, we find that 
there are 

17 tenement houses 6 stories high 

71 tenement houses 5 stories high 

103 tenement houses 4 stories high 

40 tenement houses 3 stories high 

(3 height not recorded) 

A comparison with the conditions in 1864 shows that there has 
been a decided decrease in the number of tenement houses in this 
ward ; in that year there were 462 of such buildings, while to-day 
there are only 234, a decrease of almost 50 per cent. Although the 
number of tenement houses has decreased 50 per cent, the tenement 
house population has not decreased proportionately, the population 
having decreased only 25 per cent, from 10,370 in 1864 to 7777 in 
1900, while the average number of persons to each tenement house 
has considerably increased, this number being 24.67 in 1864, and at 
the present time is 33.23. 



SIXTH WARD 

The sixth ward is probably the most notorious tenement house 
ward of the city, and was in the early days the ward that gave the 
sanitary authorities as well as the police the greatest amount of 
trouble. It is bounded on the south by Park Row, on the west by 
Broadway, on the north by Canal Street, on the east by the Bowery. 
It comprises 101.1 acres. It still contains the chief Italian quarter 
of the city and the notorious old Mulberry Bend. Business, how- 
ever, is gradually encroaching upon this district, and the tenement 
houses are being torn down and replaced by business buildings. 
There are to-day in the ward 423 tenement houses, of which 101, or 
one-fourth, are rear tenements. These 423 tenement houses contain 
accommodations for 4074 families. It was found that 42 of these 
buildings contained a number of vacant apartments, the total num- 
ber of such vacancies in the entire ward being 99. In these build- 
ings there are living 3975 families, comprising a population of 
20,936, of which 1902 are children under five years of age. 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 199 

Taking up the buildings in this ward in detail, we find that in 
the ward there are 

1 tenement house 8 stories high 

4 tenement houses 7 stories high 

47 tenement houses 6 stories high 

150 tenement houses 5 stories high 

114 tenement houses 4 stories high 

106 tenement houses 3 stories high 

1 tenement house 2 stories and basement. 

Comparing conditions to-day with conditions in 1864, we find 
that the number of tenement houses has decreased from 605 to 423, 
or 30 per cent. The number of families living in such houses in 
1864 was 4406, and in 1900, 3975 ; the average number of fami- 
lies to a tenement house, however, has increased from 7.25 to 9.39, 
and the total population has remained almost the same during these 
40 years. Although the number of tenement houses has decreased 
30 per cent, the tenement house population has decreased only from 
22,401 in 1864 to 20,936 in the present year, while the average 
number of persons to a tenement house has increased 15 points from 
34. 33 to 49.49. 

SEVENTH WARD 

The seventh ward is bounded on the south and west by Cather- 
ine Street, on the north by Division and Grand Streets, and on the 
east and south by the East River. This ward contains 206 acres. 
It was 40 years ago to a large extent a residential district. We 
find to-day, however, 1500 tenement houses in the ward, containing 
accommodation for 17,597 families. In the ward 309 buildings 
were found to contain a number of vacant apartments,- the total 
number of such vacancies being 852. In these 1500 tenement 
houses there are living 16,745 families, comprising a total popula- 
tion of 72,466 persons, of which 11,473 are children under five 
years of age. 

Taking up in detail the buildings in the ward, we find that there 
are 

13 tenement houses 6 stories high 
1049 tenement houses 5 stories high 
245 tenement houses 4 stories high 
173 tenement houses 3 stories high 
1 tenement house 2 stories and basement 
(19 height not recorded) 

Comparing conditions in the seventh ward to-day with conditions 
in 1864, we find that a tremendous change has taken place. The 
number of tenement houses has increased from 627 to 1500 in these 
40 years, or 139 per cent, and the number of families living in such 



200 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 

houses has increased from 4586 in 1864 to 16,745 in the present 
year, while the average number of families to a tenement house has 
increased from 7.25 to 11.16. The total tenement house population 
has increased from 19,293 in 1864 to 72,466 in 1900, an increase of 
275 per cent. That is, while the number of tenement houses has 
increased 139 per cent, the tenement house population has increased 
275 per cent, nearly double. The average number of persons to a 
tenement house was 30.8 in 1864 and has increased to 48.31 in the 
present year. 

EIGHTH WARD 

This ward is bounded on the south by Canal Street, on the east 
by Broadway, on the north by Houston Street, and on the west by 
the Hudson River. It contains 177.1 acres. It is not a tenement 
house district, but is gradually becoming so. It contains 871 tene- 
ment houses, of which 77 are rear buildings. In these tenement 
houses are accommodations for 5531 families ; 70 of these buildings, 
however, were found to contain vacant apartments, the total number 
of such vacancies in the ward being 143. In these 871 tenement 
houses are living 5,388 families, comprising a population of 27,093, 
of whom 4019 are children under five years of age. 

Taking up in detail the buildings in this ward, we find that there 
are 

34 tenement houses 6 stories high 

165 tenement houses 5 stories high 

356 tenement houses 4 stories high 

304 tenement houses 3 stories high 

(12 height not recorded) 

Comparing conditions in the eighth ward in the present year with 
conditions in the year 1864, we find that in this period of 40 years 
the number of tenement houses has increased from 625 to 871, or 39 
per cent, and that the total number of families living in tenement 
nouses has increased from 3977 to 5388, while the average number of 
families to each house has remained practically the same, being 6.5 
in 1864, and 6.18 in the present year. The tenement house popula- 
tion, however, has increased from 15,630 in 1864 to 27,093, or 73 
per cent, while the average number of persons to a tenement house 
has increased from 25 to 31.10. It is interesting to note that, while 
the actual number of tenement houses has only increased 39 per cent 
in these years, the tenement house population has increased 73 per 
cent. 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 201 



NINTH WARD 

The ninth ward is bounded on the south by Houston Street, on 
the east by Sixth Avenue, on the north by 14th Street, and on the 
west by the Hudson River. This ward contains 305 acres. In 
former years it was not distinctively a tenement house district. It 
has, however, recently become so, and this tendency is fast increas- 
ing. In this ward there are to-day 2283 tenement houses, of which 
118 are rear buildings. In these tenements there are accommodations 
for 13,885 families ; but 595 of these buildings are found to contain 
a number of vacant apartments, the total number of such vacant 
apartments in the ward being 1147. In these 2283 buildings were 
living 12,738 families, comprising a total population of 51,577, of 
whom 4,848 were children under five years of age. 

Taking up in detail the buildings in this ward, we find that there 
are 

3 tenement houses 7 stories high 
27 tenement houses 6 stories high 

481 tenement houses 6 stories high 

636 tenement houses 4 stories high 

1224 tenement houses 3 stories high 

4 tenement houses 2 stories and basement 

(8 height not recorded) 

Comparing conditions in the ninth ward to-day with the con- 
ditions in 1864, we find that a very great change has taken place. 
In that year there were only 596 tenement houses, while to-day there 
are 2283 such buildings, an increase of 1687 tenement houses, or 283 
per cent. The number of families living in tenement houses has 
increased from 3836 in 1864 to 12,738, and the average number of 
families to a house has decreased from 6.5 to 5.57. The tenement 
house population, however, has increased from 14,955 to 51,577, an 
increase of 36,622, or 245 per cent. The average number of persons 
to a house has decreased from 25.1 in 1864 to 22.59 in the present 
year. 

TENTH WARD 

The tenth ward is bounded on the south by Division Street, on 
the east by Norfolk Street, on the north by Rivington Street, and on 
the west by the Bowery. This ward contains 109 acres. It is the 
chief Jewish quarter of the city, although a few Italians are begin- 
ning to find their way into it. It contained in the year 1900, 1179 
tenement houses, of which 142 are rear buildings. In these tenement 
houses are accommodations for 15,313 families ; 53 of these buildings 
were found to contain a number of vacant apartments, the total num- 
ber of such vacancies in the entire ward being only 181. There were 



202 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 

found 15,132 families living in tenement houses in this ward, com- 
prising a population of 76,073, of which 10,633 were children under 
five years of age. 

Taking up in detail the buildings in this ward, we find 

3 tenement houses 7 stories high 
198 tenement houses 6 stories high 
678 tenement houses 5 stories high 
179 tenement houses 4 stories high 
110 tenement houses 3 stories high 
(11 height not recorded) 

Comparing conditions in the tenth ward to-day with conditions 
40 years ago, in 1864, we find that the number of tenement houses 
has increased in that time from 534 to 1179, or 120 per cent, and the 
number of families living in such houses has increased from 4487 to 
15,132, while the average number of families to each house has in- 
creased from 9 to 12.83. The tenement house population of the 
ward has increased from 18,140 to 76,073, or 320 per cent, and the 
average number of persons living in a tenement house has increased 
from 34 to 64.52. 

ELEVENTH WARD 

The eleventh ward is bounded on the south by Rivington Street, 
on the east by the East River, on the north by 14th Street, and on 
the west by Avenue B and Clinton Street. It contains 213 acres. 
It has been for many years a large tenement district, and contains at 
the present time 2031 tenement houses, of which 182 are rear build- 
ings. In these houses are accommodations for 21,771 families ; 591 
buildings, however, were found to contain a number of vacant apart- 
ments, the total number of such vacancies in the entire ward amount- 
ing to 1468. In this ward 20,303 families were found living in 
tenement houses, comprising a population of 89,361 persons, of whom 
14,058 were children under five years of age. 

Taking up in detail the buildings in the ward, we find that there 

are 

28 tenement houses 7 stories high 
251 tenement houses 6 stories high 
694 tenement houses 5 stories high 
801 tenement houses 4 stories high 
237 tenement houses 3 stories high 
6 tenement houses 2 stories and basement 
(15 height not recorded) 

Comparing conditions to-day with conditions in 1864, we find that 
the total number of tenement houses has decreased from 2049 to 
2031, or 18. Although the number of tenement houses has prac- 
tically remained stationary, the number of families living in tene- 
ment houses has increased from 13,433 to 20,303, or 51 per cent, and 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 203 

the average number of families to a tenement house has increased 
from 6.5 to 10. The tenement house population of the ward has in- 
creased from 64,254 to 89,361, or 39 per cent. 

TWELFTH WARD 

The twelfth ward is one of the largest wards in Manhattan in 
area, and extends from 86th Street north, containing all the rest of 
Manhattan island north of 86th Street and extending from river to 
river. This ward contains 5,920 acres. There were very few tene- 
ment houses in the ward 40 years ago, but to-day it contains 11,005 
of such buildings, as legally defined, containing accommodations for 
110,006 families. It is chiefly occupied by apartment houses and flats. 
It was found that there were 5478 of these buildings which contained 
a number of vacant apartments, the total number of such vacancies 
in the ward being 15,771 ; 94,235 families were found to be living 
in legal tenement houses, comprising a population of 397,571 per- 
sons, of which 43,839 were children under five years of age. 

Taking up the buildings in the twelfth ward in detail, we find 

that there are 

10 tenement houses 8 stories high 

103 tenement houses 7 stories high 

165 tenement houses 6 stories high 

7909 tenement houses 5 stories high 

2299 tenement houses 4 stories high 

330 tenement houses 3 stories high 

42 tenement houses 2 stories and basement 

(147 height not recorded) 

Comparing conditions to-day in the twelfth ward with conditions 
in 1864, we find that a great change has taken place. At that time 
there were only 202 tenement houses in the entire ward, while to-day 
there are 11,055, containing a population of 397,571. 

THIRTEENTH WARD 

This ward is bounded on the south by Division and Grand Streets, 
on the east by the East River, on the north by Rivington Street, and 
on the west by Norfolk Street. It contains 109 acres. In 1864 the 
ward contained 540 tenement houses ; to-day it contains 1123 of 
such buildings, of which 114 are rear tenements. These 1123 tene- 
ment houses contain accommodations for 13,195 families ; but 281 
buildings were found to contain a number of vacant apartments, the 
total number of such vacancies for the entire ward being 755. In 
this ward 12,440 families were found living in tenement houses, 
comprising a population of 55,564 persons, of whom 9414 were chil- 
dren under five years of age. 



204 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 

Taking up in detail the buildings in the ward, we find there 
are 

105 tenement houses 6 stories high 

601 tenement houses 5 stories high 

218 tenement houses 4 stories high 

266 tenement houses 3 stories high 

4 tenement houses 2 stories and basement 

(29 height not recorded) 

Comparing conditions to-day in the thirteenth ward with condi- 
tions in 1864, we find that the number of tenement houses has in- 
creased from 540 to 1123, or 108 per cent, that the number of families 
living in tenement houses has increased from 3729 to 12,440, and 
that the average number of families living in each tenement house 
has increased from 6.75 to 11.07, while the total tenement house 
population has increased from 14,997 to 55,564, or 270 per cent. 
That is, while the number of tenement houses has increased 108 per 
cent, the tenement house population has increased 270 per cent, and 
the average number of families living in a tenement house has in- 
creased from 27.5 to 49.47. 

FOURTEENTH WARD 

The fourteenth ward is bounded on the south by Canal Street, on 
the east by the Bowery, on the north by Houston Street, and on the 
west by Broadway. This ward contains 108 acres. The popular 
impression has been for a number of years that business has been 
driving out the tenement houses in this quarter of the city. While 
such changes are noticeable to some extent, yet the tenement house 
holds its own in this district, there being 642 of these buildings in 
the ward at the present time, of which 148 are rear tenements. In. 
these houses there are accommodations for 6762 families. It was 
found, however, that 53 of these buildings contained a number of 
vacant apartments, the total number of such vacancies in the entire 
ward amounting to 139. In this ward 6623 families were found 
living in tenement houses, comprising a population of 35,250, of 
which 3369 were children under five years of age. 

Taking the buildings in the ward in detail, we find 

1 tenement house 9 stories high 

2 tenement houses 7 stories high 
68 tenement houses 6 stories high 

303 tenement houses 6 stories high 
139 tenement houses 4 stories high 
133 tenement houses 3 stories high 
6 tenement houses 2 stories and basement 

Comparing conditions in the fourteenth ward to-day with condi- 
tions in 1864, nearly 40 years ago, we find that the number of tene- 
ment houses has increased from 546 to 642, or 17 per cent, that the 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 205 

number of families living in tenement houses has increased from 
4509 to 6623, and the average number of families in each house has 
increased from 8.5 to 10.31, while the total tenement house popula- 
tion has increased from 20,008 to 35,250, or 76 per cent. That is, 
while the number of tenement houses has increased only 17 per cent, 
the tenement house population has increased 76 per cent, and the 
average number of persons living in each tenement house has in- 
creased from 36.62 to 54.9. 

FIFTEENTH WARD 

This ward is bounded on the south by Houston Street, on the 
east by the Bowery and Fourth Avenue, on the north by 14th Street, 
and on the west by Sixth Avenue. It contains 225 acres. It is not 
a distinctively tenement house district. There are in the ward 
533 tenement houses, of which 32 are rear buildings. In these 533 
tenement houses there are 4134 apartments ; 127 buildings, however, 
were found to contain a number of vacant apartments, the total 
number of such vacancies in the entire ward being 196. In this 
ward 3938 families were found living in tenement houses, compris- 
ing a population of 15,989, of which 1671 were children under five 
years of age. 

Taking up in detail the buildings in the ward, we find 

1 tenement house 11 stories high 

2 tenement houses 7 stories high 
22 tenement houses 6 stories high 

153 tenement houses 5 stories high 
159 tenement houses 4 stories high 
194 tenement houses 3 stories high 
1 tenement house 2 stories and basement 
(1 height not recorded) 

Comparing conditions in this ward to-day with conditions in 1864, 
we find that the number of tenement houses has increased in that 
time from 197 to 533, or 170 per cent ; and that the number of fami- 
lies living in tenement houses has increased from 1358 to 3938. 
The average number of families to each house has remained practi- 
cally stationary, being 7 in 1864 and 7.39 in 1900. The tenement 
house population has materially increased, being 4970 in 1864 and 
15,989 in 1900, an increase of 221 per cent, while the average num- 
ber of persons to a tenement house has increased from 25 to 30. 

SIXTEENTH WARD 

The sixteenth ward is bounded on the south by 14th Street, on 
the east by Sixth Avenue, on the north by 26th Street, and on the 
west by the Hudson River, and is a tenement house district. It 



206 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 

contains 318 acres. It contains 1533 tenement houses, of which 124 
are rear buildings. In these tenement houses are 11,721 apartments, 
but 545 of these buildings were found to contain a number of vacant 
apartments, the total number of such vacancies in the entire ward 
being 1140. A total of 10,581 families were found living in tene- 
ment houses, comprising a population of 43,467, of which 3641 were 
children under five years of age. 

Taking up the buildings in the ward in detail, we find 

1 tenement house 11 stories high 

21 tenement houses 6 stories high 
604 tenement houses 5 stories high 
661 tenement houses 4 stories high 
335 tenement houses 3 stories high 

11 tenement houses 2 stories and basement 

Comparing conditions to-day in the sixteenth ward with conditions 
in 1864, 40 years ago, we find that the number of tenement houses 
has increased from 1257 to 1533, or 21 per cent, and that the number 
of families living in such buildings has increased from 7088 in 1864 
to 10,581 in 1900, and the average number of families to each house 
has increased from 5.67 to 6.9. The total tenement house popu- 
lation has increased from 31,500 to 43,467, or 38 per cent, while the 
average number of persons to each tenement house has increased 
from 25 in 1864 to 28.35 in 1900. 

SEVENTEENTH WARD 

This ward is bounded on the south by Rivington Street, on the 
east by Avenue B and Clinton Street, on the north by 14th Street, 
and on the west by the Bowery and Fourth Avenue. It contains 
266 acres. In this ward, to-day, there are 2877 tenement houses, of 
which 268 are rear buildings. In these 2877 houses there are 
29,349 apartments; but 705 buildings were found to contain a number 
of vacant apartments, the total number of vacancies of this kind in 
the entire ward being 1314. There were found 28,035 families living 
in these buildings, comprising a population of 114,559, of which 
13,519 were children under five years of age. 

Taking up in detail the buildings in the ward, we find 

1 tenement house 7 stories high 
250 tenement houses 6 stories high 
1393 tenement houses 5 stories high 
915 tenement houses 4 stories high 
303 tenement houses 3 stories high 
3 tenement houses 2 stories and basement 
(12 height not recorded) 

Comparing conditions in this ward to-da} r with conditions 40 years 
ago, in 1864, we find that great changes have taken place. The 
number of tenement houses in the ward has increased from 1890 in 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 207 

1864 to 2877 in 1900, or 52 per cent, while the number of families 
living in such buildings has increased from 15,974 to 28,035, and the 
average number of families to each house has increased from 8.33 to 
9.74. The tenement house population, however, has increased from 
63,766 to 114,559, or 79 per cent. That is, while the number of 
tenement houses has increased 52 per cent, the population has in- 
creased 79 per cent, and the average number of persons to a tenement 
house has increased from 34.67 to 39.81. 

EIGHTEENTH WARD 

This ward is bounded on the south by 14th Street, on the east by 
the East River, on the north by 26th Street, and on the west by 
Sixth Avenue. It contains 500 acres. That portion of the ward 
east of Third Avenue is a distinctively tenement house district ; the 
rest of the ward is given up to business and residence. We find 
that there are in this ward 1323 tenement houses, of which 76 are 
rear buildings. In these 1323 buildings there are 11,513 apartments; 
423 buildings, however, were found to contain a number of vacant 
apartments, the total number of such vacancies amounting to 1012 
for the entire ward. There were found 10,501 families living in tene- 
ment houses, comprising a population of 40,724, of which 4706 were 
children under five years of age. 

Taking up in detail the buildings in the ward, we find 

1 tenement house 10 stories high 

1 tenement house 9 stories high 

2 tenement houses 8 stories high 
6 tenement houses 7 stories high 

30 tenement houses 6 stories high 
699 tenement houses 5 stories high 
478 tenement houses 4 stories high 
81 tenement houses 3 stories high 
2 tenement houses 2 stories and basement 
(23 height not recorded) 

Comparing conditions in this ward to-day with conditions in 1864, 
we find that the number of tenement houses has increased in that 
time from 836 to 1323, or 58 per cent, and the number of families 
living in such buildings has increased from 7267 to 10,501, while the 
average number of families in each house has decreased from 8.75 to 
7.93. The tenement house population, however, has increased from 
35,869 to 40,724, or 13 per cent, although the average number of 
persons to a tenement house has decreased from 42.85 to 30.78. 

NINETEENTH WARD 

The nineteenth ward is bounded on the south by 40th Street, on 
the east by the East River, on the north by 86th Street, and on the 



208 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 

west by Sixth Avenue, and a continuation of the line of Sixth 
Avenue through Central Park. It contains 1851 acres. That 
portion of the ward east of Third Avenue may be termed a distinc- 
tively tenement house district, other portions of the ward being one 
of the residence districts of the city. Great changes have taken 
place in this ward in the last 40 years, the number of tenement 
houses having increased from 671 to 5720. We find that there are 
in the nineteenth ward 5720 tenement houses, of which 57 are rear 
buildings. In these 5720 houses there are 51,492 apartments; 1909 of 
these buildings, however, were found to contain a number of vacant 
apartments in each, the total number of such vacancies for the entire 
ward being 3911. In this ward 47,581 families were found living in 
tenement houses, comprising a population of 203,815, of which 
24,794 were children under five years of age. 

Taking up in detail the buildings in the ward, we find 

1 tenement house 10 stories high 

3 tenement houses 9 stories high 

4 tenement houses 8 stories high 
17 tenement houses 7 stories high 
56 tenement houses 6 stories high 

2754 tenement houses 5 stories high 
2428 tenement houses 4 stories high 
416 tenement houses 3 stories high 
11 tenement houses 2 stories and basement 
(30 height not recorded) 

Comparing conditions in the nineteeth ward to-day with condi- 
tions 40 years ago, we find that the number of tenement houses has 
increased from 571 to 5720, or 901 per cent ; the number of families 
living in tenement houses has increased from 3632 to 47,581, or 1210 
per cent ; while the average number of families to a house has in- 
creased from 6.5 to 8.31. The tenement house population in the 
ward has increased from 16,067 to 203,815, or 1168 per cent, while 
the number of people to each tenement house has increased from 
28.14 to 35.63. 

TWENTIETH WARD 

This ward is bounded on the south by 26th Street, on the east 
by Sixth Avenue, on the north by 40th Street, and on the west by 
the Hudson River. It contains 418.7 acres. It is given up about 
equally to tenement houses and to business. 

In the ward there are 2791 tenement houses, of which 299 are 
rear buildings. In these 2791 houses there are 22,496 different 
apartments ; 1045 of such buildings, however, were found to contain 
a number of vacant apartments in each, the total number of such 
vacancies in the ward amounting to 2239. There were found 
20,257 families living in tenement houses in this ward, comprising 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 209 

a population of 79,732 persons, of which 7580 were children under 
five years of age. 

Taking up in detail the buildings in the ward, we find 

1 tenement house 7 stories high 
6 tenement houses 6 stories high 
971 tenement houses 5 stories high 
1501 tenement houses 4 stories high 
298 tenement houses 3 stories high 
10 tenement houses 2 stories and basement 
(4 height not recorded) 

Comparing conditions in this ward to-day with conditions in 
1864, we find that the number of tenement houses has increased from 
1162 to 2791, or 140 per cent, while the number of families has 
increased from 8344 to 20,257 ; the average number of families to a 
house, however, has practically remained stationary, being 7.33 in 
1864, and 7.26 at the present time. The total tenement house 
population has increased from 32,205 to 79,732, or 147 per cent, while 
the average number of persons to a house has increased from 27.8 
to 28.56. 

TWENTY-FIRST WARD 

This ward is bounded on the south by 26th Street, on the east 
by the East River, on the north by 40th Street, and on the west 
by Sixth Avenue. It contains 380 acres. That portion east 
of Third Avenue is distinctively a tenement house district, the 
other portion of the ward being given up to business and private 
residences. We find in the ward 1449 tenement houses, of which 
42 are rear buildings. In these 1449 houses there are 12,023 different 
apartments ; a number of vacant apartments were found in 479 of 
these buildings, the total number of such vacancies in the ward 
amounting to 1029. There were found 10,994 families living in 
tenement houses, comprising a population of 42,818, of which 4690 
were children under five years of age. 

Taking up the buildings in the ward in detail, we find 

1 tenement house 12 stories high 
1 tenement house 11 stories high 

1 tenement house 9 stories high 
6 tenement houses 7 stories high 

13 tenement houses 6 stories high 

696 tenement houses 5 stories high 

790 tenement houses 4 stories high 

22 tenement houses 3 stories high 

2 tenement houses 2 stories and basement 

(18 height not recorded) 

Comparing conditions in the twenty-first ward in the present 
year with conditions 40 years ago, we find that the number of tene- 
ment houses has increased from 1026 to 1449, or 41 per cent ; that the 



210 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 

number of families living in such buildings has increased from 7299 
in 1864 to 10,994 in 1900 ; that the average number of families to a 
house has practically remained stationary, being 7 in 1864 and 7.58 
in the present year. The tenement house population of the ward 
has increased from 36,675 to 42,818, or 17 per cent. 



TWENTY-SECOND WARD 

The twenty-second ward is bounded on the south by 40th 
Street, on the east by Sixth Avenue and a continuation of the line 
of Sixth Avenue through Central Park, on the north by 86th 
Street, and on the west by the Hudson River. It contains 1681 acres. 
In the western portion, as far north as 70th Street, will be found 
a distinctively tenement house district. It is in this ward that the 
most densely populated block in the entire city is to be found, this 
block being located at 61st and 62d Streets, from Tenth to Eleventh 
Avenues. Great changes have taken place in the ward in the past 
40 years. To-day there are in the ward 4454 tenement houses, of 
which 190 are rear buildings. In these 4454 tenement houses 
there are 45,219 different apartments ; 1985 of these buildings, how- 
ever, were found to contain a number of vacant apartments in each, 
the total number of such vacancies in the entire ward being 4872. 
There live 40,347 families in tenement houses, comprising a popula- 
tion of 182,508, of which 15,651 are children under five years of age. 

Taking up in detail the buildings in the ward, we find 

2 tenement houses 11 stories high 

2 tenement houses 10 stories high 

9 tenement houses 9 stories high 

12 tenement houses 8 stories high 

62 tenement houses 7 stories high 

102 tenement houses 6 stories high 
2,572 tenement houses 5 stories high 
1,279 tenement houses 4 stories high 
333 tenement houses 3 stories high 
42 tenement houses 2 stories and basement 
(39 height not recorded) 

Comparing tenement house conditions in this ward to-day with 
conditions in 1864, we find that the number of tenement houses 
has increased from 996 to 4454, or 347 per cent ; that the number 
of families living in tenement houses has increased from 7714 in 
1864 to 40,347 in 1900 ; that the average number of families living 
in each tenement has increased from 7.5 in 1864 to 9.05 in 1900 ; that 
the tenement house population has increased from 31,845 in 1864 to 
182,508 in the present year, or 473 per cent. That is, while the 
number of tenement houses has increased 347 per cent in this time, 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 211 

the tenement house population has increased 473 per cent : and the 
average number of persons to each tenement house has increased 
from 32 to 40.97. 

Reviewing this whole subject, we find that in the Borough of 
Manhattan great changes have taken place in the last 40 years : that 
the total number of tenement houses has increased from 15,511 to 
42,700, or 175 per cent ; that the total number of families living in 
tenement houses has increased from 110,363 to 367,461, or 233 per 
cent ; that the average number of families to a tenement house has 
increased from 7.11 to 7.78; that the total tenement house popula- 
tion has increased from 480,368 to 1,585,000, or 229 per cent ; and 
that the average population to each tenement house has increased 
from 30.96 to 33.58. 

Considering the matter from the point of view of the height of 
buildings, we find that in the year 1900 there were in the Borough 
of Manhattan the following : 

1 tenement house 12 stories high 

5 tenement houses 11 stories high 

4 tenement houses 10 stories high 

15 tenement houses 9 stories high 

29 tenement houses 8 stories high 

237 tenement houses 7 stories high 

1,486 tenement houses 6 stories high 

21,937 tenement houses 5 stories high 

13,459 tenement houses 4 stories high 

5,003 tenement houses 3 stories high 

146 tenement houses 2 stories and basement 

(378 height not recorded) 

Or, putting it in another way: 3J per cent are 6 stories in height; 
51 per cent are 5 stories in height ; 31 J per cent are 4 stories in 
height ; 11 J per cent are 3 stories in height. 

Viewed from the point of view of the number of apartments in 
each house, we find that there are to-day in the Borough of Manhat- 
tan 31,219 tenement houses containing 5 apartments and over in 
each house; 28,521 tenement houses containing 6 apartments and 
over ; 24,274 tenement houses containing 8 apartments and over ; 
18,518 tenement houses containing 10 apartments and over; 9317 
tenement houses containing 15 apartments and over ; 4050 tenement 
houses containing 20 apartments and over ; 122 tenement houses 
containing 30 apartments and over ; 34 tenement houses containing 
40 apartments and over ; and 8 tenement houses containing 50 apart- 
ments and over. 

Considering the question from the point of view of the number 
of occupants in each house instead of the number of apartments or 
families, we find the following facts : that there are 40,644 tenement 



212 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 

houses containing 10 and more persons in each house ; 30,548 tene- 
ment houses containing 20 and more persons in each house ; 22,996 
tenement houses containing 30 and more persons in each house ; 
16,047 tenement houses containing 40 and more persons in each 
house ; 10,191 tenement houses containing 50 and more persons in 
each house ; 6944 tenement houses containing 60 and more persons 
in each house ; 4888 tenement houses containing 70 and more per- 
sons in each house ; 3333 tenement houses containing 80 and more 
persons in each house ; 2027 tenement houses containing 90 and more 
persons in each house; 1087 tenement houses containing 100 and 
more persons in each house; 147 tenement houses containing 125 
and more persons in each house; 48 tenement houses containing 
150 and more persons in each house ; 15 tenement houses containing 
175 and more persons in each house; 5 tenement houses contain- 
ing 200 and more persons in each house ; and 1 tenement house 
containing more than 225 persons. 

We also find that to-day there are, in the Borough of Manhattan, 
42,700 tenement houses, of which 2124 are rear tenements, that 
these 42,700 tenement houses contain 404,135 apartments, and that 
in the Borough of Manhattan there are 14,878 different tenement 
houses containing a number of vacant apartments ; that is, 35 per 
cent of all the tenement houses have vacancies. And further, that 
the total number of vacancies in the Borough is 36,674 apartments, 
or over 9 per cent of the entire number. It appears also that 
367,461 families live in tenement houses on the Island of Manhattan, 
comprising a population of 1,585,000 persons, of which 183,470 are 
children under five years of age. The tables appended to this report 
show in detail all these facts, not only for the entire Borough of 
Manhattan, but for each ward in the borough. These statistics 
have been prepared from data contained in the original records of 
the Department of Health, obtained by the Sanitary Squad, in their 
semiannual census of the tenement houses, made during the first six 
months of the year 1900. In this census the sanitary policemen 
record the following facts : the height of the building in stories ; 
its address by street and number ; the name and address of the 
owner or agent; the number of families in the building at the time 
of their visit; the number of vacant apartments; the number of 
occupants over five years of age ; the number of occupants under 
five years of age. There is reason to believe that the information 
recorded by the sanitary policemen is on the whole accurate. The 
compilation of these statistics is entirely accurate, as will be found 
by any person who cares to check them in all their details. The 
information in regard to tenement houses in this city in 1864 is 
taken from the report of the Council of Hygiene of the Citizens' 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 213 

Association, this being the first statistical inquiry of New York's 
tenement houses. 

It was originally planned to make a similar analysis and statisti- 
cal investigation of the tenement houses in the Bronx, Brooklyn, 
Queens, and Richmond. With the time and means at the disposal 
of the Commission, however, it has not been possible to make such 
a study. The statistics of tenement houses in these latter boroughs 
are obtained from the Department of Health, being the results of 
their census made during the first half of the year 1900. 



214 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 



NEW YORK'S TENEMENT 
GENERAL 



HOUSES, MANHATTAN 1900 
STATISTICS 



TABLE No. 1 



WARDS 


TENEMENTS 


APARTMENTS 


VACANT APARTMENTS 


Front 


Rear 


Total 


Percentage 
in each Wd. 


No. 


Percentage 
in each Wd. 


Bldgs. 
contain'g 


No. 

Apts. 


Percentage 
in each Wd. 


1 


206 


10 


216 


.6 


1,827 


.45 


34 


69 


.18 


2 


7 




7 


.016 


35 


.008 








3 


35 




35 


.08 


232 


.05 


6 


10 


.027 


4 


419 


52 


471 


1.1 


4,362 


1.07 


95 


265 


.72 


5 


229 


5 


234 


.54 


1,598 


.39 


33 


62 


.16 


6 


322 


101 


423 


.99 


4,074 


1.0 


42 


99 


.269 


7 


1,426 


74 


1,500 


3.5 


17,597 


4.35 


309 


852 


2.3 


8 


794 


77 


871 


2.03 


5,531 


1.36 


70 


143 


.38 


9 


2,165 


118 


2,283 


5.3 


13,885 


3.43 


595 


1,147 


3.1 


10 


1,037 


142 


1,179 


2.76 


15,313 


3.78 


53 


181 


.49 


11 


1,849 


182 


2,031 


4.75 


21,771 


5.38 


591 


1,468 


4.0 


12 


10,992 


13 


11,005 


25.77 


110,006 


27.2 


5,478 


15,771 


43.0 


13 


1,009 


114 


1,123 


2.6 


13,195 


3.26 


281 


755 


2.05 


14 


494 


148 


642 


1.5 


6,762 


1.67 


63 


139 


.379 


15 


501 


32 


533 


1.2 


4,134 


1.02 


127 


196 


.53 


16 


1,409 


124 


1,533 


3.59 


11,721 


2.9 


545 


1,140 


3.1 


17 


2,609 


268 


2,877 


6.7 


29,349 


7.26 


705 


1,314 


3.68 


18 


1,247 


76 


1,323 


3.09 


11,513 


2.8 


423 


1,012 


2.75 


19 


5,663 


57 


5,720 


13.39 


51,492 


12.7 


1,909 


3,911 


10.66 


20 


2,492 


299 


2,791 


6.5 


22,496 


5.5 


1,045 


2,239 


6.1 


21 


1,407 


42 


1,449 


3.39 


12,023 


2.9 


499 


1,029 


. 2.8 


22 


4,262 


190 


4,454 


10.4 


45,219 


11.1 


1,985 


4,872 


13.28 


Total . . 


40,576 


2,124 


42,700 




404,135 




14,878 


36,674 




Percentage 


95.02 


4.97 










35. 


9.07 





STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 215 



GENERAL STATISTICS 

(Continued) 



TABLE No. 1 



FAMILIES 


OCCUPANTS 








WARDS 


No. 


Percentage 
in each Wd. 


No. 


Percentage 
in each Wd. 


Under 
5 years 


Percentage 
under 5 yrs. 


Over 5 yrs. 


Percentage 
over 5 years 




1,758 


.47 


7,153 


.45 


763 


.41 


6,390 


.45 


1 


35 


.009 


201 


.013 


11 


.006 


190 


.013 


2 


222 


.06 


1,031 


.06 


103 


.05 


928 


.06 


3 


4,097 


1.11 


19,335 


1.2 


1,661 


.9 


17,674 


1.2 


4 


1,536 


.41 


7,777 


.49 


1,125 


.6 


6,652 


.47 


5 


3,975 


1.08 


20,936 


1.3 


1,902 


1.03 


19,034 


1.3 


6 


16,745 


4.65 


72,466 


4.5 


11,473 


6.25 


60,993 


4.3 


7 


5,388 


1.46 


27,093 


1.7 


4,019 


2.19 


23,074 


1.6 


8 


12,738 


3.46 


51,577 


3.2 


4,848 


2.64 


46,729 


3.3 


9 


15,132 


4.11 


76,073 


4.7 


10,633 


6.79 


65,440 


4.6 


1O 


20,303 


5.5 


89,361 


5.3 


14,058 


7.66 


75,303 


6.37 


11 


94,235 


25.6 


397,571 


25.08 


43,839 


23.8 


353,732 


25.2 


12 


12,440 


3.37 


55,564 


3.5 


9,414 


5.13 


46,150 


3.29 


13 


6,623 


1.8 


35,250 


2.2 


3,369 


1.83 


31,881 


2.27 


14 


3,938 


1.07 


15,989 


1.0 


1,671 


.91 


14,318 


1.02 


15 


10,581 


2.8 


43,467 


2.7 


3,641 


1.98 


39,826 


2.8 


16 


28,035 


7.6 


114,559 


7.2 


13,519 


7.36 


101,040 


7.2 


17 


10,501 


2.86 


40,724 


2.5 


4,706 


2.56 


36,018 


2.56 


18 


47,581 


12.9 


203,815 


12.8 


24,794 


13.6 


179,021 


12.77 


19 


20,257 


5.5 


79,732 


5.05 


7,580 


4.13 


72,152 


5.1 


20 


10,994 


2.9 


42,818 


2.7 


4,690 


2.56 


38,128 


2.7 


21 


40,347 


10.9 


182,508 


11.5 


15,651 


8.53 


166,857 


11.9 


22 


367,461 




1,585,000 




183,470 




1,401,530 




Total 


















Percentage 



216 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YOKE'S TENEMENT HOUSES 



A COMPARATIVE TABLE OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 

MANHATTAN 1864 AND 1900 
TABLE No. 2 





TOTAL NUMBEB OF TENEMENT HOUSES 


TOTAL FAMILIES IN TENEMENT HOUSES 


WABDS 


1864 


1900 


Increase 


Percentage 
of 


1864 


1900 


Increase 


Percentage 
of 










Increase 








Increase 


1 


250 


216 


-34 


-13.6 


2,181 


1,758 


-423 


-19.39 


2 




7 








35 






3 


64 


35 


-19 


-35.18 


310 


222. 


-88 


-28.38 


4 


486 


471 


-15 


-3.08 


3,636 


4,097 


461 


12.67 


5 


462 


234 


-228 


-49.35 


2,597 


1,536 


-1,061 


-40.85 


6 


605 


423 


-182 


-30.08 


4,406 


3,975 


-431 


-9.78 


7 


627 


1,500 


873 


139.23 


4,586 


16,745 


12,169 


265.13 


8 


625 


871 


246 


39.36 


3,977 


6,388 


1,411 


35.47 


9 


696 


2,283 


1,687 


283.05 


3,836 


12,738 


8,902 


205.99 


1O 


634 


1,179 


645 


120.78 


4,487 


15,132 


10,645 


237.24 


11 


2,049 


2,031 


-18 


-.87 


13,433 


20,303 


6,870 


51.14 


12 


202 


11,005 


10,803 


6,348.01 




94,235 






13 


540 


1,123 


683 


107.96 


3,729 


12,440 


8,711 


233.60 


14 


546 


642 


96 


17.58 


4,509 


6,623 


2,114 


46.88 


15 


197 


633 


336 


170.55 


1,358 


3,938 


2,580 


189.98 


16 


1,257 


1,533 


276 


21.95 


7,088 


10,581 


3,493 


49.28 


17 


1,890 


2,877 


987 


52.22 


15,974 


28,035 


12,061 


75.50 


18 


836 


1,323 


487 


68.25 


7,267 


10,501 


3,234 


44.50 


19 


571 


5,720 


5,149 


901.75 


3,632 


47,581 


43,949 


1,210.04 


20 


1,162 


2,791 


1,629 


140.18 


8,344 


20,257 


11,913 


142.77 


21 


1,026 


1,449 


423 


41.22 


7,299 


10,994 


3,695 


60.62 


22 


996 


4,454 


3,458 


347.18 


7,714 


40,347 


32,633 


423.03 


Total 


15,611 


42,700 


27,189 


175.28 


110,363 


367,461 


257,098 


232.95 



NOTE : Minus ( ) sign indicates a decrease. 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 217 



A COMPARATIVE TABLE OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 
MANHATTAN 1864 AND 1900 



TABLE No. 2 



( Continued) 



AVERAGE NUMBER OF 
FAMILIES TO A HOUSE 


TOTAL POPULATION IN TENEMENT HOUSES 


AVERAGE POPULATION TO 
A TENEMENT HOUSE 


WARDS 


1864 


1900 


Increase 


1864 


1900 


Increase 


Percentage 
of 
Increase 


1864 


190O 


Increase 


8.5 


8.13 


-.37 


8,564 


7,153 


-1,411 


-16.4 


34.25 


33.11 


-1.14 


1 




5. 






201 








28.71 




2 


5.75 


6.33 


.58 


1,248 


1,031 


-217 


-17.38 


24.16 


29.45 


6.29 


3 


7.5 


8.7 


1.2 


17,611 


19,335 


1,724 


9.78 


35.25 


41.05 


5.80 


4 


5.6 


6.56 


1.06 


10,370 


7,777 


-2,593 


-25. 


24.67 


33.23 


8.56 


5 


7.25 


9.39 


2.14 


22,401 


20,936 


-1,465 


-6.53 


34.33 


49.49 


16.16 


6 


7.25 


11.16 


3.91 


19,293 


72,466 


53,173 


275.60 


30.8 


48.31 


17.51 


7 


6.5 


6.18 


-.32 


15,630 


27,093 


11,463 


73.33 


25. 


31.10 


6.10 


8 


6.5 


5.57 


-.93 


14,955 


51,577 


36,622 


244.88 


25.1 


22.59 


-2.51 


9 


9. 


12.83 


3.83 


18,140 


76,073 


57,933 


319.36 


34. 


64.52 


30.52 


10 


6.5 


10. 


3.5 


64,254 


89,361 


25,107 


39.07 


31.34 


43.99 


12.65 


11 




8.52 






397,571 








35.96 




12 


6.75 


11.07 


4.32 


14,997 


55,564 


40,567 


270.50 


27.5 


49.47 


21.97 


13 


8.5 


10.31 


1.81 


20,008 


35,250 


15,242 


76.17 


36.62 


54.90 


18.28 


14 


7. 


7.39 


.39 


4,970 


15,989 


11,019 


221.71 


25. 


29.99 


4.99 


15 


5.67 


6.9 


1.23 


31,500 


43,467 


11,967 


37.99 


25. 


28.35 


3.35 


16 


8.33 


9.74 


1.41 


63,766 


114,559 


50,793 


79.65 


34.67 


39.81 


6.14 


17 


8.75 


7.93 


-.82 


35,869 


40,724 


4,855 


13.53 


42.85 


30.78 


-12.07 


18 


6.5 


8.31 


1.81 


16,067 


203,815 


187,748 


1,168.53 


28.14 


35.63 


7.49 


19 


7.33 


7.26 


-.07 


32,205 


79,732 


47,527 


147.57 


27.8 


28.66 


.76 


20 


7. 


7.58 


.58 


36,675 


42,818 


6,143 


16.74 


35.71 


29.55 


-6.16 


21 


7.5 


9.05 


1.55 


31,845 


182,508 


150,663 


473.11 


32. 


40.97 


8.97 


22 


7.11 


7.78 


.67 


480,368 


1,585,000 


1,104,632 


229.95 


30.96 


33.58 


2.62 


Total 



NOTE : Minus ( ) sign indicates a decrease. 



218 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 



NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES, MANHATTAN 1900 

TABLE 
SHOWING THE NUMBER OF TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OP 

APARTMENTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS 
TABLE No. 3 





NUMBER OF APARTMENTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOUSE 




3 


4 


5 


6 


7 


8 


9 


10 


11 


12 


13 


14 


1 


42 


37 


10 


14 


18 


16 


10 


3 


7 


6 


4 


7 


2 


4 








1 


2 














3 


7 


5 


5 


8 


3 


2 








1 


1 




4 


73 


72 


27 


51 


18 


37 


12 


34 


6 


23 


4 


7 


5 


48 


40 


33 


24 


8 


22 


8 


16 


8 


7 


2 


3 


6 


62 


38 


23 


44 


15 


63 


12 


27 


1 


24 


4 


6 


7 


209 


155 


88 


45 


30 


131 


35 


68 


19 


31 


16 


15 


8 


330 


138 


76 


86 


35 


51 


14 


24 


3 


6 




5 


9 


1,118 


382 


131 


102 


35 


73 


27 


53 


35 


20 


9 


16 


10 


143 


68 


23 


46 


31 


134 


26 


68 


11 


45 


6 


11 


11 


299 


249 


106 


128 


103 


243 


59 


106 


12 


35 


16 


25 


12 


640 


814 


567 


667 


183 


1,192 


472 


1,770 


2,031 


264 


314 


213 


13 


189 


130 


40 


45 


29 


91 


23 


56 


8 


25 


5 


13 


14 


80 


60 


30 


46 


11 


87 


13 


64 


9 


28 


3 


5 


15 


92 


87 


62 


81 


24 


38 


15 


21 


12 


4 


4 


5 


16 


415 


237 


152 


121 


48 


101 


32 


94 


59 


20 


5 


9 


17 


350 


305 


205 


171 


124 


343 


101 


256 


62 


90 


45 


69 


18 


180 


195 


104 


131 


79 


115 


49 


116 


33 


33 


24 


32 


19 


785 


685 


423 


354 


207 


767 


239 


595 


270 


98 


60 


68 


20 


684 


403 


201 


252 


126 


262 


56 


145 


41 


50 


23 


32 


21 


279 


201 


101 


127 


112 


144 


47 


94 


30 


26 


8 


22 


22 


569 


412 


291 


348 


116 


436 


156 


410 


290 


110 


97 


75 


Total houses 


6,598 


4,713 


2,698 


2,891 


1,356 


4,350 


1,406 


4,020 


2,947 


946 


650 


638 


Percentage 


15.4 


11.03 


6.3 


6.7 


3.1 


10.1 


3.2 


9.4 


6.9 


2.2 


1.5 


1.4 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 219 



TABLE 

SHOWING THE NUMBER OF TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OP 
APARTMENTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS 

(Continued) 
TABLE No. 3 



NUMBER OF APARTMENTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOUSE 






WARDS 


15 


16 


17 


18 


19 


20 


21 


22 


23 


24 


25 


26 




6 


10 


5 


5 


5 


6 


2 


3 










1 


























2 




2 
















1 






3 


12 


16 


8 


15 


1 


27 


4 


11 


1 


1 




2 


4 


3 


2 


1 


4 




1 




2 




1 






5 


7 


33 


5 


6 


3 


17 


5 


8 


3 


4 


1 




6 


36 


73 


36 


91 


10 


92 


15 


192 


7 


43 


6 


9 


7 


2 


24 


10 


21 


6 


11 


4 


13 


2 


4 


1 




8 


35 


50 


27 


31 


17 


37 


16 


36 


8 


8 


1 


2 


9 


10 


56 


26 


201 


4 


47 


11 


188 




12 


1 


2 


1O 


33 


75 


36 


113 


12 


103 


30 


139 


14 


45 


9 


19 


11 


254 


659 


98 


233 


57 


332 


81 


52 


7 


14 


11 


7 


12 


13 


60 


22 


123 


14 


47 


12 


134 


4 


20 


4 


9 


13 


11 


64 


25 


37 


7 


15 


6 


17 


2 


9 


1 


1 


14 


7 


14 


6 


24 




7 


4 


14 




3 


1 




15 


25 


49 


25 


27 


6 


48 


24 


21 


2 


7 




1 


16 


56 


110 


57 


161 


18 


76 


25 


183 


12 


24 


2 


10 


17 


34 


31 


15 


34 


11 


50 


15 


30 


1 


1 


1 




18 


137 


203 


88 


236 


53 


301 


64 


34 


3 


4 




2 


19 


60 


94 


35 


62 


17 


95 


43 


85 


8 


8 






20 


22 


46 


41 


33 


20 


40 


8 


41 


3 


1 






21 


127 


179 


81 


136 


26 


301 


139 


120 


4 


7 


1 


3 


22 


890 


1,850 


647 


1,593 


287 


1,653 


508 


1,323 


81 


217 


40 


67 


Total houses 


2.08 


4.3 


1.5 


3.73 


.67 


3.87 


1.18 


3.09 


.189 


.50 


.093 


.156 


Percentage 



220 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 



TABLE 

SHOWING THE NUMBER OP TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OF 
APARTMENTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS 

( Continued} 
TABLE No. 3 





NUMBER OF APARTMENTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOUSE 




27 


28 


29 


30 


31 32 


33 


34 


35 


36 


37 


38 


39 


40 


41 


1 
































2 
































3 
































4 








2 












1 








1 




5 


1 






























6 




1 




2 














1 










7 


3 






1 


1 






1 




3 












8 










1 








1 














9 


1 


2 




2 




















1 




10 




2 




1 




1 






1 








1 


2 




11 


1 




1 


3 


1 


1 


3 


1 


3 


2 


1 




1 






12 


4 


1 


4 


2 


3 


1 






3 


1 


3 








1 


13 












1 


1 


1 




1 




1 


2 






14 


1 


1 




2 


1 


















3 




15 


1 


















1 








1 




16 




1 


1 


2 
























17 


6 




1 


2 


2 


1 


1 




2 


1 






1 






18 


1 










2 


1 
















1 


19 












1 




2 


1 














20 


1 


















1 




1 








21 




1 


















1 










22 


1 


1 


1 


1 


1 








2 




2 






2 


1 


Total houses 


21 


10 


8 


20 


10 


8 


6 


5 


13 


11 


8 


2 


5 


10 


3 


Percentage 


.049 


.023 


.018 


.046 


.023 


.018 


.014 


.01 


.03 


.025 


.018 


.004 


.01 


.023 


.007 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 221 



TABLE 

SHOWING THE NUMBER OF TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OP 
APARTMENTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS 



TABLE No. 3 



(Continued) 



NUMBEB OF APARTMENTS IN EACH TENEMENT Hot SK 


NOT 
RECORDED 


TOTAL 
APART- 
MENTS 


PERCENT- 
AGE 


WABDS 


42 


43 


44 


45 


48 


52 


53 


60 


69 


90 


124 












1,827 


.45 


1 


























35 


.008 


2 


























232 


.05 


3 




















1 




4 


4,362 


1.07 


4 


























1,698 


.39 


5 
















2 








6 


4,074 


1.0 


6 
























39 


17,597 


4.36 


7 
























3 


6,531 


1.36 


8 
























8 


13,885 


3.43 


9 
























1 


15,313 


3.78 


1O 






2 


1 


1 
















21,771 


5.38 


11 




1 








1 


1 




1 






46 


110,006 


27.2 


12 


























13,195 


3.26 


13 
























3 


6,762 


1.67 


14 
























5 


4,134 


1.02 


15 






















1 




11,721 


2.9 


16 


















1 






4 


29,349 


7.26 


17 
























4 


11,513 


2.8 


18 


2 






















38 


51,492 


12.7 


19 
























6 


22,496 


6.5 


20 
























1 


12,023 


2.9 


21 


4 




2 


1 




1 












2 


45,219 


11.1 


22 


6 


1 


4 


1 


1 


2 


2 


1 


1 


170 






Total houses 


.014 


.002 


.009 


.002 


.002 


.002 


.002 


.004 


.004 


.002 


.002 


.398 


Percentage 



Total houses, 42,700. 



Total apartments, 404,135. 



222 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 



NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES, MANHATTAN 1900 

TABLE 

SHOWING THE NUMBER OF TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OF 
APARTMENTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS (CONDENSED FROM TABLE No. 3) 

TABLE No. 4 



WARDS 


NUMBER OF APARTMENTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOUSE 


50 

and over 


40 

and over 


30 

and over 


20 

and over 


15 

and over 


fc 


Per Cent 


Number 


Per Cent 


Number 


Per Cent 


Number 


Per Cent 


Number 


Per Cent 


1 














11 


.27 


42 


.45 


2 






















3 














1 


.02 


3 


.03 


4 


1 


12.50 


2 


5.88 


5 


4.10 


51 


1.26 


103 


1.11 


5 














5 


.12 


15 


.16 


6 


2 


25.00 


2 


5.88 


5 


4.10 


44 


1.09 


98 


1.05 


7 










6 


4.92 


373 


9.21 


619 


6.64 


8 










2 


1.64 


37 


.91 


100 


1.07 


9 






1 


2.94 


3 


2.46 


114 


2.81 


274 


2.94 


10 






2 


5.88 


6 


4.92 


269 


6.64 


566 


6.07 


11 






4 


11.76 


20 


16.39 


381 


9.41 


650 


6.98 


12 


3 


37.50 


5 


14.71 


18 


14.75 


531 


13.11 


1,832 


19.66 


13 










7 


5.74 


237 


5.85 


469 


5.03 


14 






3 


8.82 


6 


4.92 


59 


1.46 


203 


2.18 


15 






1 


2.94 


2 


1.64 


32 


.79 


83 


.89 


16 


1 


12.50 


1 


2.94 


3 


2.46 


108 


2.66 


240 


2.58 


17 


1 


12.50 


1 


2.94 


11 


9.02 


350 


8.64 


752 


8.07 


18 






1 


2.94 


4 


3.28 


103 


2.54 


228 


2.45 


19 






2 


5.88 


6 


4.92 


414 


10.22 


1,131 


12.14 


20 










2 


1.64 


242 


5.98 


510 


5.47 


21 










1 


.82 


95 


2.35 


257 


2.76 


22 






9 


26.48 


15 


12.29 


593 


14.64 


1,142 


12.26 


Total . . . 


8 




34 




122 




4,050 




9,317 





STAtlSTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 223 



TABLE 

SHOWING THE NUMBER OF TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OP 
APARTMENTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS (CONDENSED FROM TABLE No. 3) 

(Continued} 
TABLE No. 4 



NUMBER OF APARTMENTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOUSE 


WAUDS 


10 

and over 


8 

and over 


6 

and over 


5 

and over 


1 
a 

S3 
*1 


1 



1 

p 

ft 


6 
I 


1 
1 


1 

& 


1 

| 

fc 


1 



69 


.37 


95 


.39 


127 


.45 


137 


.44 


1 






2 


.01 


3 


.01 


3 


.01 


2 


5 


.03 


7 


.03 


18 


.06 


23 


.07 


3 


177 


.96 


226 


.93 


295 


1.03 


322 


1.03 


4 


51 


.28 


81 


.33 


113 


.40 


146 


.47 


5 


160 


.86 


235 


.97 


294 


1.03 


317 


1.02 


6 


768 


4.15 


934 


3.85 


1,009 


3.50 


1,097 


3.51 


7 


138 


.74 


203 


.84 


324 


1.14 


400 


1.28 


8 


407 


2.20 


507 


2.09 


644 


2.26 


775 


2.48 


9 


707 


3.82 


867 


3.57 


944 


3.31 


967 


3.10 


10 


844 


4.56 


1,146 


4.72 


1,377 


4.83 


1,483 


4.75 


11 


6,424 


34.69 


8,088 


33.32 


8,938 


31.34 


9,505 


30.45 


12 


576 


3.11 


690 


2.84 


764 


2.68 


804 


2.58 


13 


312 


1.69 


412 


1.70 


469 


1.64 


499 


1.60 


14 


129 


.70 


182 


.79 


287 


1.01 


349 


1.12 


15 


427 


2.31 


560 


2.31 


729 


2.56 


881 


2.82 


16 


1,274 


6.88 


1,718 


7.08 


2,013 


7.06 


2,218 


7.10 


17 


466 


2.52 


630 


2.59 


840 


2.95 


944 


3.02 


18 


2,222 


12.00 


3,228 


13.30 


3,789 


13.20 


4,212 


13.49 


19 


801 


4.33 


1,119 


4.61 


1,497 


5.25 


1,698 


5.44 


20 


437 


2.36 


628 


2.59 


867 


3.04 


968 


3.10 


21 


2,124 


11.47 


2,716 


11.19 


3,180 


11.15 


3,471 


11.12 


22 


18,518 




24,274 




28,521 




31,219 




Total 



224 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 



NEW 

SHOWING THE 
TABLE No. 5 



YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES, MANHATTAN 1900 

TABLE 

NUMBER OF TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OF 
OCCUPANTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS 



WABDS 


NUMBER OF OCCUPANTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOUSE 





1 


2 


3 


4 


5 


6 


7 


8 


9 


10 


11 


12 


13 


14 


1 










1 




1 


1 


1 


2 


1 


5 


9 


7 


10 


2 
































3 




















1 


2 






2 


2 


4 


7 










4 


2 


2 


7 


2 


5 


7 


9 


19 


8 


5 


1 










1 


1 






1 


1 


2 


3 


7 


8 


6 


8 










1 




1 


1 


2 


10 


5 


12 


6 


5 


7 


40 






2 




3 


1 


3 


3 


4 


4 


6 


10 


6 


24 


8 


3 












1 


3 




7 


10 


21 


19 


38 


53 


9 


16 




3 


7 


14 


7 


62 


37 


101 


97 


134 


109 


179 


116 


146 


10 


5 






1 




1 


1 


1 


2 


7 


20 


29 


33 


22 


20 


11 


8 








1 


2 


5 


11 


13 


11 


26 


21 


36 


50 


37 


12 


317 


2 


7 


18 


20 


19 


24 


45 


52 


69 


82 


91 


120 


138 


164 


13 


8 






2 


2 


3 


8 


7 


10 


20 


15 


18 


26 


24 


20 


14 


7 






1 




3 


1 


3 


6 


3 


8 


10 


11 


13 


6 


15 


5 








2 


1 


6 


3 


10 


6 


17 


9 


13 


17 


24 


16 


17 








4 


6 


12 


21 


26 


38 


74 


67 


67 


71 


66 


17 


5 






1 




7 


6 


8 


11 


15 


39 


44 


57 


79 


71 


18 


6 






2 


1 




7 


10 


9 


13 


22 


26 


60 


40 


55 


19 


43 




2 


6 


20 


8 


17 


33 


39 


62 


77 


95 


114 


131 


111 


20 


8 




1 




10 


9 


15 


22 


18 


55 


111 


143 


177 


155 


132 


21 


2 




1 


1 


5 


6 


5 


9 


14 


19 


26 


47 


63 


42 


55 


22 


25 




3 


1 


8 


2 


18 


20 


30 


73 


69 


77 


86 


104 


119 


Total . 


531 


2 


17 


42 


88 


83 


193 


240 


353 


507 


753 


832 


1,104 


1,087 


1,136 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 225 



TABLE 

SHOWING THE NUMBER OP TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBBBS OP 
OCCUPANTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS 



TABLE No. 5 



(Continued) 



NUMBER OP OCCUPANTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOUSE 


WARDB 


15 


16 


17 


18 


19 


20 


21 


22 


23 


24 


25 


26 


27 


28 


29 


6 


6 


7 


7 


4 


4 


6 


3 


11 


6 


12 


4 


1 


5 


1 


1 








2 


1 


1 




















2 


1 


2 






2 


2 




1 


2 


2 


2 










3 


7 


17 


11 


19 


12 


16 


5 


12 


9 


2 


3 


4 


3 


3 


3 


4 


8 


8 


11 


5 


6 


8 


7 


6 


6 


6 


7 


7 


3 


4 


4 


5 


7 


4 


8 


15 


5 


10 


3 


6 


2 


6 


3 


3 


3 


4 


2 


6 


48 


36 


39 


35 


25 


21 


14 


43 


27 


36 


35 


22 


26 


21 


15 


7 


69 


47 


39 


33 


25 


28 


35 


22 


17 


23 


14 


19 


23 


20 


26 


8 


93 


110 


95 


81 


66 


62 


41 


42 


39 


24 


37 


22 


17 


30 


18 


9 


6 


7 


5 


15 


18 


20 


6 


3 


2 


6 


7 


5 


8 


3 


7 


10 


54 


52 


45 


59 


34 


48 


46 


54 


45 


49 


43 


44 


51 


38 


32 


11 


163 


144 


167 


169 


172 


177 


191 


179 


177 


213 


195 


176 


202 


213 


238 


12 


24 


21 


26 


21 


23 


26 


12 


14 


21 


14 


18 


11 


17 


14 


9 


IS 


18 


10 


5 


13 


6 


13 


9 


5 


6 


5 


3 


4 


3 


6 


7 


14 


24 


17 


30 


26 


16 


20 


21 


16 


17 


10 


13 


8 


4 


9 


9 


15 


87 


65 


53 


42 


47 


35 


47 


30 


30 


31 


28 


16 


20 


17 


12 


16 


78 


70 


68 


87 


78 


56 


56 


73 


70 


75 


56 


52 


60 


63 


66 


17 


46 


34 


28 


45 


34 


39 


22 


21 


32 


33 


36 


31 


24 


33 


24 


18 


124 


176 


170 


148 


121 


114 


114 


123 


118 


124 


117 


88 


102 


86 


76 


19 


127 


92 


87 


61 


63 


61 


68 


59 


43 


39 


41 


32 


49 


34 


30 


20 


48 


62 


44 


43 


55 


46 


39 


36 


27 


38 


32 


25 


19 


18 


26 


21 


104 


106 


117 


95 


77 


59 


89 


64 


68 


71 


73 


82 


67 


45 


79 


22 


1,132 


1,086 


1,055 


1,021 


890 


866 


821 


812 


769 


812 


775 


655 


702 


666 


674 


Total 



TOL. I Q 



226 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 



TABLE 

SHOWING THE NUMBER OF TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OF 
OCCUPANTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS 



TABLE No. 5 



(Continued} 





NUMBER OF OCCUPANTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOUSE 


WARDS 






30 


31 


32 


33 


34 


35 


36 


37 


38 


39 


40 


41 


42 


43 


44 


1 


1 


4 


2 


5 


3 


2 


1 


4 


3 


4 


2 


2 


2 


2 


4 


2 




















1 






1 






3 


2 


2 




2 




1 












1 


1 




1 


4 


7 


4 


10 


7 


12 


6 


12 


3 


9 


6 


7 


9 


13 


6 


9 


5 


7 


3 


3 


4 


8 


6 


7 


1 


4 


4 


4 


2 


6 


5 


4 


6 


10 


6 


8 


4 


4 


2 


12 


7 


10 


6 


6 


3 


7 


7 


11 


7 


20 


18 


21 


13 


13 


16 


15 


17 


14 


10 


10 


8 


18 


16 


10 


8 


9 


14 


16 


19 


7 


11 


13 


10 


5 


7 


7 


3 


6 


4 


3 


9 


25. 


11 


14 


14 


10 


10 


13 


10 


13 


8 


6 


9 


2 


9 


14 


10 


7 


12 


10 


6 


13 


10 


12 


8 


4 


18 


21 


37 


22 


12 


5 


11 


33 


32 


26 


30 


31 


22 


30 


20 


16 


9 


17 


18 


18 


25 


19 


12 


181 


285 


264 


281 


286 


276 


318 


313 


279 


289 


290 


274 


270 


254 


233 


13 


11 


15 


16 


7 


10 


6 


12 


11 


11 


12 


5 


3 


5 


5 


8 


14 


11 


3 


13 


5 


4 


6 


3 


8 


2 


4 


12 


6 


19 


14 


16 


15 


6 


4 


6 


6 


8 


10 


11 


8 


5 


4 


2 


5 


4 


3 


2 


16 


15 


13 


22 


12 


3 


11 


10 


21 


8 


20 


10 


10 


17 


12 


10 


17 


67 


37 


41 


47 


37 


34 


42 


49 


31 


32 


32 


32 


45 


29 


26 


18 


33 


15 


17 


22 


33 


15 


15 


20 


12 


21 


14 


23 


15 


17 


18 


19 


93 


88 


107 


106 


103 


92 


109 


92 


111 


79 


95 


100 


111 


77 


111 


20 


37 


40 


36 


41 


35 


30 


24 


25 


29 


45 


35 


37 


28 


28 


27 


21 


28 


24 


19 


22 


21 


18 


23 


19 


25 


20 


21 


8 


19 


20 


19 


22 


77 


71 


48 


105 


63 


76 


42 


72 


53 


62 


44 


62 


73 


72 


67 


Total . . 


680 


701 


699 


758 


704 


660 


724 


718 


644 


661 


640 


652 


702 


617 


617 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 227 



TABLE 

SHOWING THE NUMBER OP TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OP 
OCCUPANTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS 



TABLE No. 5 



(Continued) 



NUMBER OF OCCUPANTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOUSE 


"W A pTia 


45 


46 


47 


48 


49 


50 


51 


52 


53 


54 


55 


56 


57 


58 


59 


W AKDS 


3 


3 


1 


1 




3 


1 


5 


1 


1 


1 


2 


1 






1 


1 






























2 












1 




















3 


4 


6 


4 


6 


2 


9 


2 


3 


5 


6 


4 


4 


1 




1 


4 


3 


3 


1 






2 


3 


1 




5 


1 


1 




1 




5 


4 


6 


3 


5 




15 


1 


7 


5 


4 


2 


5 




1 


3 


6 


6 


14 


16 


16 


17 


17 


10 


18 


10 


11 


8 


8 


10 


6 


7 


7 


2 


7 


3 


2 


3 


1 


3 


5 


5 


4 


6 


2 


1 


2 


2 


8 


8 


9 


7 


7 


6 


18 


8 


11 


6 


22 


10 


16 


10 


10 


11 


9 


7 


10 


8 


5 


14 


11 


13 


19 


7 


4 


6 


3 


3 


3 


1 


10 


18 


21 


1Q 


16 


20 


16 


9 


14 


14 


15 


13 


12 


13 


13 


16 


11 


244 


199 


198 


165 


165 


142 


136 


118 


97 


84 


108 


82 


79 


69 


59 


12 


9 


17 


7 


7 


12 


8 


5 


6 


10 


8 


10 


11 


11 


3 


6 


13 


10 


7 


1 


5 


2 


16 


3 


18 


6 


4 


11 


8 


2 


8 


1 


14 


4 




2 


2 


2 


3 


1 


2 


1 


1 


2 


2 


5 


1 


2 


15 


14 


10 


10 


15 


11 


9 


8 


11 


9 


10 


13 


7 


5 


6 


5 


16 


42 


39 


34 


46 


30 


21 


30 


17 


23 


21 


27 


19 


21 


16 


19 


17 


18 


18 


17 


28 


18 


19 


17 


17 


11 


9 


11 


11 


5 


8 


5 


18 


87 


92 


75 


99 


80 


67 


57 


51 


44 


37 


63 


62 


37 


39 


29 


19 


41 


33 


21 


23 


23 


18 


16 


19 


18 


19 


21 


23 


13 


9 


12 


20 


21 


6 


11 


16 


15 


18 


10 


8 


12 


13 


11 


11 


13 


7 


8 


21 


69 


57 


67 


36 


50 


39 


42 


40 


45 


34 


62 


42 


29 


28 


22 


22 


615 


557 


486 


500 


470 


452 


375 


390 


329 


312 


370 


321 


259 


230 


209 


Total 



228 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YOKE'S TENEMENT HOUSES 



TABLE 

SHOWING THE NUMBER OP TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OF 
OCCUPANTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS 



TABLE No. 5 



(Continued} 





NUMBER OF OCCUPANTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOUSE 


"W'ARDS 






60 


61 


62 


63 


64 


65 


66 


67 


68 


69 


70 


71 


72 


73 


74 


i 


1 




2 


3 


1 


2 


2 


1 


3 


2 


2 


1 


1 


3 




2 
































3 




1 




























4 


1 




2 


2 






1 




2 




2 


1 


1 




3 


5 




1 




2 


1 


1 


1 








4 






1 


1 


6 


2 


6 


4 


2 


3 


5 


3 




2 


2 


2 


1 






3 


7 


25 


16 


13 


4 


21 


8 


8 


9 


17 


10 


11 


9 


18 


19 


5 


8 


1 


2 


1 


3 


1 


3 


3 


3 






1 


2 




3 


1 


9 


6 


8 


8 


10 


11 


7 


5 


8 


8 


1 


9 


2 


5 


3 


3 


10 


9 


9 


5 


6 


2 


1 


2 




7 


1 


10 


7 


2 


7 


7 


11 


15 


11 


20 


13 


6 


10 


13 


11 


10 


13 


7 


11 


11 


10 


14 


12 


65 


55 


39 


56 


35 


51 


44 


37 


36 


30 


36 


23 


41 


24 


22 


13 


8 


7 


5 


6 


8 


16 


11 


6 


11 


7 


9 


5 


10 


11 


6 


14 


7 




4 




4 


2 


4 


2 


4 




1 




4 


1 


1 


15 


1 


2 


3 


5 


2 


1 


1 


1 




3 


1 


3 


2 


1 


4 


16 


1 


5 


5 


6 


5 


5 


8 


11 


11 


11 


3 


3 


6 


5 


8 


17 


22 


18 


12 


7 


11 


12 


14 


10 


14 


17 


13 


10 


7 


6 


8 


18 


10 


6 


2 


8 


4 


5 


4 


3 


5 


3 


2 


2 


2 


1 


1 


19 


42 


16 


49 


29 


36 


28 


36 


25 


35 


28 


33 


15 


39 


24 


29 


2O 


5 


9 


8 


12 


13 


14 


11 


6 


12 


9 


18 


9 


9 


12 


15 


21 


9 


5 


13 


8 


10 


5 


5 


5 


14 


6 


3 


2 


6 


3 


1 


22 


19 


31 


27 


31 


21 


31 


32 


26 


27 


29 


29 


31 


22 


15 


16 


Total . . 


249 


208 


222 


213 


195 


207 


208 


164 


218 


172 


196 


137 


186 


149 


148 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 229 



TABLE 

SHOWING THE NUMBER OF TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OF 
OCCUPANTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS 



TABLE No. 5 



(Continued) 



NTTMBEB OF OCCUPANTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOUSE 






WARDS 


75 


76 


77 


78 


79 


80 


81 


82 


83 


84 


85 


86 


87 


88 


89 




2 




1 






1 








1 






1 






1 
































2 




























1 




3 


2 


2 


1 


1 


1 


4 


1 


4 


1 


4 


3 


1 


2 


6 


1 


4 


1 


4 












1 


1 




1 










5 


2 


2 




1 


1 


3 


5 




3 




1 


1 


1 


2 


2 


6 


8 


10 


6 


13 


8 


23 


23 


12 


18 


20 


9 


13 


9 


17 


9 


7 


4 


2 


3 


4 


3 


3 


3 


1 


2 


1 


2 


2 


1 


1 


3 


8 


6 


4 


1 


5 


1 


4 


4 


1 


1 


1 


1 


3 


1 






9 


4 


5 


2 




4 


9 


6 


4 


3 


9 


11 


10 


17 


12 


25 


10 


13 


16 


8 


5 


11 


6 


8 


12 


11 


15 


12 


17 


10 


5 


8 


11 


28 


30 


19 


27 


25 


26 


24 


23 


13 


13 


21 


12 


9 


7 


14 


12 


9 


9 


6 


6 


13 


6 


17 


8 


14 


5 


7 


11 


10 


6 


8 


13 




1 




2 


7 


1 




5 


5 


4 


9 


6 


4 


4 


2 


14 


2 


4 




2 


1 


1 


2 


4 


1 


1 




1 


1 


1 


1 


15 


4 


3 


2 


6 


2 


7 


7 


4 


2 


4 


2 


1 


3 


4 


4 


16 


9 


6 


6 


8 


7 


9 


5 


9 


6 


11 


12 


15 


13 


15 


10 


17 


2 


4 


4 


2 


1 


3 




2 


1 




1 


1 




2 




18 


13 


41 


20 


24 


21 


39 


8 


27 


11 


15 


12 


16 


7 


14 


8 


19 


11 


5 


11 


12 


5 


3 


4 


10 


7 


2 


5 


3 


2 


4 


1 


20 


2 




1 




1 


1 


1 


1 


1 






2 




1 




21 


19 


34 


34 


34 


27 


19 


24 


25 


14 


13 


17 


18 


21 


23 


17 


22 


141 


182 


125 


152 


139 


168 


142 


153 


115 


119 


126 


133 


112 


125 


113 


Total 



230 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 



TABLE 

SHOWING THE NUMBER OF TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OP 
OCCUPANTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS 



TABLE No. 5 



(Continued) 



WABDS 


NUMBER OF OCCUPANTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOUSK 




90 


91 


92 


93 


94 


95 


96 


97 


98 


99 


100 


101 


102 


103 


104 


1 


1 


















1 












2 
































3 
































4 


2 




5 




2 


3 


3 


1 


5 


1 


2 


1 


1 


1 


2 


5 










1 






















6 


3 


1 


1 


1 


8 


1 


5 




4 


1 


2 


1 


1 


1 


1 


7 


16 


9 


9 


7 


13 


8 


10 


10 


14 


8 


14 


7 


10 


2 


3 


8 


2 


1 




1 


3 


2 


3 


3 




2 


1 


1 


1 


2 


2 


9 


6 


3 


1 


1 






3 




1 




3 


2 




1 




10 


31 


24 


28 


33 


18 


11 


8 


6 


6 


6 


6 


2 


1 


4 


6 


11 


13 


8 


8 


9 


12 


9 


6 


8 


12 


8 


4 


5 


7 


5 


7 


12 


16 


8 


6 


10 


4 


10 


7 


2 


6 


7 


7 


3 


6 


4 


3 


13 


6 


4 


5 


6 


9 


4 


3 


10 


11 


7 


7 


2 


9 


5 


8 


14 


13 


2 


10 


5 


4 


3 


10 


5 


8 


3 


13 


1 


3 


1 


2 


15 


2 


1 




2 




1 




















16 


3 




3 




1 


1 


2 


1 


1 


1 






1 


1 




17 


17 


13 


15 


9 


11 


10 


6 


2 


2 


6 


9 


5 


4 


5 


6 


18 


1 


1 


2 




2 












1 










19 


11 


3 


9 


1 


5 


6 


2 




2 


1 


1 


1 


1 


1 


1 


20 




3 


1 






















1 




21 


2 




1 


























22 


21 


14 


8 


17 


11 


9 


10 


8 


11 


15 


13 


12 


11 


8 


7 


Total . . 


166 


95 


112 


102 


104 


77 


78 


56 


83 


67 


83 


43 


56 


42 


48 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 231 



TABLE 

SHOWING THE NUMBER OF TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OP 
OCCUPANTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS 



TABLE No. 5 



(Continued) 



NUMBER OF OCCUPANTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOUSE 






"W^ABDS 


105 


106 


107 


108 


109 


110 


111 


112 


113 


114 


115 


116 


117 


118 


119 


































1 
































2 








1 
























3 


1 


2 


1 


1 




3 






1 


2 






1 






4 




1 




























5 


1 


2 


2 


2 


2 


1 


1 


3 


1 


2 








1 




6 


9 


7 


5 


2 


1 


1 


2 


















7 




2 


2 


2 


1 


2 






1 


4 


2 




1 




1 


8 






















1 










9 


8 


10 


11 


8 


11 


12 


13 


13 


16 


17 


22 


22 


21 


4 


7 


1O 


2 


7 


5 


4 


6 


4 


2 


11 


3 


2 


4 


1 


3 


1 


2 


11 


1 


3 


5 


4 


3 


2 


1 


1 


3 




1 


3 








12 


8 


5 


4 


3 


3 


4 


4 


3 


2 


3 


1 


1 


1 


2 


1 


13 


1 


3 


2 


4 


3 


3 


2 


1 


2 


1 


1 


1 


1 


3 




14 


1 








1 




1 


















15 




1 


1 


1 
























16 


13 


6 


7 


10 


12 


4 


9 


8 


11 


3 


2 


5 


1 


2 


1 


17 
































18 


1 


















1 




1 








19 
































20 
































21 


4 


9 


10 


3 


4 


5 


4 


7 


3 


1 


3 


2 


3 


2 


2 


22 


50 


68 


55 


45 


47 


41 


39 


47 


43 


36 


37 


36 


32 


15 


14 


Total 



232 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 



TABLE 

SHOWING THE NUMBER OF TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OF 
OCCUPABTTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS 



TABLE No. 5 



( Continued) 





NUMBER OF OCCUPANTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOUSE 




120 


121 


122 


123 


124 


125 


126 


127 


128 


129 


130 


131 


132 


133 


134 


1 
































2 
































3 
































4 




1 
























2 




5 






1 


























6 




1 


3 








1 


1 


1 




1 


1 






1 


7 
































8 


1 






1 




















1 




9 
































10 


4 


4 


2 


1 




2 


1 


2 


2 






1 






1 


11 


5 


3 


3 




3 




2 




1 


1 


1 










12 




1 


1 








1 


1 


1 






1 


1 






13 


1 


4 


2 


1 


1 












1 


1 


1 




1 


14 


3 


4 






3 




1 


1 


1 


1 




1 


1 


1 


1 


15 




1 






1 








1 


1 












16 
































17 




1 


2 












1 


1 






1 




2 


18 
































19 
































20 
































21 
































22 


5 


3 


1 


2 


3 


2 




1 




1 








1 


1 


Total . . 


19 


23 


15 


5 


11 


4 


6 


6 


8 


5 


3 


5 


4 


5 


7 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 233 



TABLE 

SHOWING THE NUMBER OF TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OF 
OCCUPANTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BT WARDS 



TABLE No. 5 



(Continued) 



NUMBER OF OCCUPANTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOUSK 






___ 


135 


136 


137 


138 


139 


140 


141 


142 


143 


144 


145 


146 


147 


148 


149 


W ARD8 
































1 
































2 
































3 






2 




1 






















4 














1 


















5 




2 








1 


1 














1 




6 
































7 
































8 
































9 












1 




















1O 




1 




2 




2 


1 






1 


1 






1 




11 






















1 






1 




12 














1 


















13 




1 






2 


3 


4 


1 








2 








14 
































15 
































16 






















3 










17 
































18 
































19 
































20 
































21 


1 








2 


1 




1 


1 


1 






1 






22 


1 


4 


2 


2 


5 


8 


8 


2 


1 


2 


5 


2 


1 


3 




Total 



234 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 



TABLE 

SHOWING THE NUMBER OF TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OP 
OCCUPANTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS 



TABLE No. 5 



(Continued) 





NUMBER OF OCCUPANTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOUSE 


WABDS 










i 


i i i 


! | 






150 


151 


152 


153 


154 


155 


156157 


158 


159160 


161 


163 


165 


166 


167170 


171 


173 


1 








































2 








































3 








































4 








































5 








































6 






























1 










7 








































8 








































9 


1 






1 
































10 


2 






































11 






1 




3 












1 


2 


1 










1 




12 








1 


1 






























13 
































1 


1 


1 


2 


14 












1 
















1 








2 




15 
















1 
























16 








































17 




1 




































18 








































19 


















1 






















20 


1 






































21 






1 


































22 






1 


































Total . . 


4 


1 


3 


2 


4 


1 




1 


1 




1 


2 


1 


1 


1 


1 


1 


4 


2 



STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 235 



TABLE 

SHOWING THE NUMBER OF TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OP 
OCCUPANTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS 



TABLE No. 5 



(Continued) 



NUMBER OF OCCUPANTS IN EACII TENEMENT HOUSE 


TOTAL 
OCCUPANTS 


PER- 
CENTAGE 


WARDS 


174 


175 


176 


182 


184 


185186 


187 


190200 


202 


205 


211 


407 






























7,153 


.45 


1 






























201 


.013 


2 






























1,031 


.06 


3 






























19,335 


1.2 


4 






























7,777 


.49 


5 


1 


1 


1 
























20,936 


1.3 


6 






























72,466 


4.5 


7 






























27,093 


1.7 


8 






























51,577 


3.2 


9 










1 








1 


1 






1 




76,073 


4.7 


10 








1 




1 




1 














89,361 


5.3 


11 














1 
















397,571 


25.08 


12 






















1 








55,564 


3.5 


13 






























35,250 


2.2 


14 






























15,989 


1.0 


15 




























1 


43,467 


;2.7 


16 




1 




1 






















114,559 


7.2 


17 






























40,724 


2.5 


18 






























203,815 


12.8 


19 






























79,732 


5.05 


20 






























42,818 


2.7 


21 


1 
2 


2 


1 


2 


1 






1 


1 


1 


1 


1 

1 


1 


1 


182,508 


11.5 


22 


1 


1 






Total 



Total occupants, 1,585,000. 



Total houses, 42,700. 



236 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 



NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES, MANHATTAN 1900 

TABLE 
SHOWING THE NUMBER OF TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OF 

OCCUPANTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS. (CONDENSED FROM TABLE No. 5) 
TABLE No. 6 



WABDS 

1 


NUMBER OF OCCUPANTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOUSE 


225 

and over 


200 

and over 


175 

and over 


150 

and over 


125 

and over 


100 

and over 


90 

and over 


80 

and over 


1 



PerCent 


Number 


PerCent 


| Number 


Per Cent 


| Number 


PerCent 


Number 


PerCent 


1 
1 


Per Cent 


Number 


Per Cent 


1 
fc 


Per Cent 


























2 


.10 


5 


.15 


2 


































3 






















1 


.09 


1 


.05 


2 


.06 


4 


















5 


3.40 


25 


2.30 


47 


2.32 


74 


2.22 


5 


















1 


.68 


3 


.28 


4 


.20 


7 


.21 


6 










2 


13.33 


4 


8.33 


15 


10.20 


43 


3.96 


68 


3.35 


86 


2.58 


7 






















63 


5.80 


167 


8.24 


320 


9.60 


8 


















1 


.68 


28 


2.58 


45 


2.22 


64 


1.92 


9 














2 


4.16 


2 


1.36 


9 


.82 


24 


1.18 


40 


1.20 


1O 






2 


40.00 


4 


26.66 


6 


12.50 


16 


10.88 


241 


22.17 


412 


20.33 


518 


15.54 


11 










3 


20.00 


12 


25.00 


26 


17.69 


125 


11.50 


218 


10.75 


322 


9.66 


12 










1 


6.66 


8 


6.25 


10 


6.80 


62 


5.70 


138 


6.81 


300 


9.00 


13 






1 


20.00 


1 


6.66 


6 


12.50 


11 


7.48 


96 


8.33 


161 


7.94 


263 


7.59 


14 














4 


8.33 


25 


17.01 


83 


7.64 


146 


7.20 


186 


5.58 


15 














1 


2.08 


3 


3.40 


8 


.74 


14 


.69 


27 


.81 


16 


1 


100.00 


1 


20.00 


1 


6.66 


1 


2.08 


1 


.68 


6 


.55 


19 


.94 


57 


1.71 


17 










2 


13.33 


8 


6.25 


11 


7.48 


137 


12.60 


228 


11.25 


333 


10.00 


18 






















1 


.09 


7 


.35 


17 


.51 


19 














1 


2.08 


1 


.68 


9 


.82 


48 


2.37 


205 


6.15 


2O 














1 


2.08 


1 


.68 


2 


.18 


6 


.30 


47 


1.41 


21 














1 


2.08 


1 


.68 


1 


.09 


4 


.20 


11 


.33 


22 






1 


20.00 


1 


6.66 


3 


6.25 


17 


11.56 


144 


13.25 


268 


13.22 


459 


13.77 


Total 


1 




5 




15 




48 




147 




1,087 




2,027 




3,333 





STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 237 



TABLE 

SHOWING THE NUMBEB OF TENEMENT HOUSES CONTAINING CERTAIN NUMBERS OF 
OCCUPANTS IN EACH, ARRANGED BY WARDS. (CONDENSED FROM TABLE No. 5) 

(Continued) 
TABLE No. 6 



NUMBER OF OCCUPANTS IN EACH TENEMENT HOTJBB 


WARDS 


70 

and over 


60 

and over 


50 

and over 


40 

and over 


30 

and over 


20 

and over 


10 

and over 


| 

p 




1 
& 


Number 


Per Cent 


Number 


Percent 


Number 


PerCent 


| 

fe 


PerCent 


Number 


Per Cent 


Number 


Per Cent 


16 


.31 


32 


.46 


47 


.46 


67 


.42 


96 


.42 


148 


.48 


210 


.62 


1 














2 


.01 


3 


.01 


4 


.01 


7 


.02 


2 


2 


.04 


3 


.04 


4 


.04 


7 


.04 


14 


.06 


23 


.08 


34 


.08 


3 


88 


1.80 


96 


1.38 


131 


1.29 


197 


1.23 


273 


1.19 


333 


1.09 


427 


1.10 


4 


18 


.37 


24 


.35 


38 


.37 


66 


.41 


113 


.49 


171 


.66 


230 


.57 


5 


98 


2.00 


127 


1.83 


170 


1.67 


222 


1.38 


291 


1.27 


333 


1.09 


410 


1.01 


6 


427 


8.74 


558 


8.04 


663 


6.51 


794 


4.95 


951 


4.14 


1,211 


3.96 


1,444 


3.55 


7 


87 


1.78 


104 


1.50 


135 


1.32 


175 


1.09 


286 


1.24 


513 


1.68 


857 


j2.11 


8 


79 


1.62 


151 


2.17 


273 


2.68 


350 


2.18 


478 


2.08 


810 


2.65 


1,939 


4.77 


9 


666 


11.58 


608 


8.76 


678 


6.65 


819 


5.10 


919 


4.00 


986 


3.23 


1,161 


2.86 


1O 


428 


8.76 


550 


7.92 


685 


6.72 


867 


5.43 


1,116 


4.85 


1,566 


5.13 


1,980 


4.87 


11 


576 


11.76 


1,023 


14.73 


1,997 


19.50 


4,289 


26.73 


7,061 


30.71 


9,022 


29.53 


10,432 


25.67 


12 


337 


6.89 


422 


6.08 


500 


4.91 


578 


3.60 


689 


2.99 


845 


2.77 


1,063 


2.62 


13 


203 


4.15 


230 


3.31 


306 


3.00 


398 


2.48 


457 


1.99 


518 


1.70 


618 


1.52 


14 


47 


.96 


66 


.95 


86 


.84 


112 


.70 


180 


.78 


307 


1.00 


600 


1.23 


15 


99 


2.03 


167 


2.40 


250 


2.45 


369 


2.30 


504 


2.19 


770 


2.52 


1,409 


3.47 


16 


413 


8.43 


550 


7.92 


764 


7.50 


1,119 


6.97 


1,536 


6.68 


2,153 


7.05 


2,824 


6.95 


17 


38 


.78 


88 


1.27 


201 


1.97 


387 


2.41 


590 


2.57 


885 


2.90 


1,275 


3.14 


18 


464 


9.49 


788 


11.35 


1,254 


12.30 


2,181 


13.59 


3,161 


13.75 


4,223 


13.82 


6,490 


13.51 


19 


154 


3.15 


253 


3.64 


421 


4.13 


717 


4.47 


1,059 


4.61 


1,505 


4.93 


2,653 


6.53 


20 


30 


.61 


110 


1.58 


221 


2.17 


377 


2.35 


596 


2.59 


902 


2.95 


1,387 


3.41 


21 


720 


14.73 


994 


14.31 


1,367 


13.41 


1,954 


12.18 


2,623 


11.41 


3,320 


10.87 


4,274 


10.52 


22 


4,888 




6,944 




10,191 




16,047 




22,996 




30,548 




40,644 




Total 



238 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 



SHOWING THE 
TABLE No. 7 



NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES, MANHATTAN 1900 

TABLE 
NUMBER OF TENEMENT HOUSES OF VARIOUS HEIGHTS, ARRANGED 



BY WARDS 





NUMBER OF STORIES HIGH 


a 

H 




1 


"WARDS 







A 


w 




12 


11 


10 


9 


8 


7 


6 


5 


4 


3 


2 


*J 


| 


I 5 


1 














37 


83 


67 


27 




2 


216 


.505 


2 
















4 


2 


1 






7 


.016 


3 














1 


22 


11 


1 






35 


.08 


4 














33 


185 


178 


69 


1 


5 


471 


1.103 


5 














17 


71 


103 


40 




3 


234 


.548 


6 










1 


4 


47 


150 


114 


106 


1 




423 


.99 


7 














13 


1,049 


245 


173 


1 


19 


1,500 


3.5 


8 














34 


165 


356 


304 




12 


871 


2.03 


9 












3 


27 


481 


536 


1,224 


4 


8 


2,283 


5.34 


10 












3 


198 


678 


179 


110 




11 


1,179 


2.76 


11 












28 


251 


694 


801 


237 


5 


15 


2,031 


4.7 


12 










10 


103 


165 


7,909 


2,299 


330 


42 


147 


11,005 


25.7 


13 














105 


501 


218 


266 


4 


29 


1,123 


2.6 


14 








1 




2 


58 


303 


139 


133 


6 




642 


1.5 


15 




1 








2 


22 


153 


159 


194 


1 


1 


533 


1.2 


16 




1 










21 


504 


661 


335 


11 




1,533 


3.5 


17 












1 


250 


1,393 


915 


303 


3 


12 


2,877 


6.7 


18 






1 


1 


2 


6 


30 


699 


478 


81 


2 


23 


1,323 


3.09 


19 






1 


3 


4 


17 


56 


2,754 


2,428 


416 


11 


30 


5,720 


13.3 


2O 












1 


6 


971 


1,501 


298 


10 


4 


2,791 


6.5 


21 


1 


1 




1 




5 


13 


596 


790 


22 


2 


18 


1,449 


3.3 


22 




2 


2 


9 


12 


62 


102 


2,572 


1,279 


333 


42 


39 


4,454 


10.4 


Total . . 


1 


5 


4 


15 


29 


237 


1,486 


21,937 


13,459 


5,003 


146 


378 


42,700 




Percentage 


.0023 


.0117 


.0093 


.035 


.067 


.55 


3.48 


51.37 


31.5 


11.7 


.34 


.88 







STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 239 



BOROUGH OF BROOKLYN 

RESULTS OF TENEMENT HOUSE CENSUS DURING THE FIRST Six MONTHS OF 1900 
TABLE No. 8 



WARDS 


FAMILIES 


OCCUPANTS 
OVEE 5 YEARS 


OCCOTANTS 
UNDER 5 YEARS 


TOTAL 
TENEMENTS 


NtTMBER OF 

VACANT 
APARTMENTS 


First. , . . . 


2,246 


8,759 


1,057 


553 


267 


Second 


1,651 


5,791 


1,109 


364 


231 


Third 


2,709 


10,395 


1,066 


792 


231 


Fourth 


2,279 


* 12,270 


1,169 


626 


71 


Fifth 


2,768 


9,790 


1,743 


753 


389 


Sixth 


6,413 


28,842 


4,977 


1,558 


324 


Seventh .... 


4,404 


15,503 


2,353 


1,133 


509 


Eighth 


5,283 


21,862 


3,795 


1,248 


239 


Ninth 


6,048 


20,489 


3,222 


1,512 


716 


Tenth 


6,352 


22,523 


3,425 


1,528 


798 


Eleventh .... 


4,633 


22,862 


5,335 


1,357 


113 


Twelfth . . . . 


3,598 


16,291 


2,470 


899 


233 


Thirteenth . ... 


3,597 


14,081 


2,023 


1,032 


274 


Fourteenth . . . 


5,417 


21,309 


4,065 


1,120 


304 


Fifteenth .... 


2,423 


15,202 


2,763 


567 


73 


Sixteenth .... 


10,800 


37,340 


8,348 


1,999 


296 


Seventeenth . . . 


9,342 


34,573 


6,240 


2,106 


739 


Eighteenth . . . 


4,471 


16,986 


3,012 


946 


192 


Nineteenth . . . 


4,909 


17,548 


3,785 


1,026 


206 


Twentieth .... 


2,410 


8,120 


1,072 


649 


242 


Twenty-first . . . 


8,451 


30,230 


4,806 


1,738 


443 


Twenty-second . . 


7,825 


29,014 


4,466 


1,882 


385 


Twenty-third . :. 


5,079 


17,556 


2,352 


1,143 


589 


Twenty-fourth . . 


1,777 


5,783 


1,078 


444 


441 


Twenty-fifth ... 


5,416 


18,747 


3,061 


1,336 


556 


Twenty-sixth . . 


3,568 


14,092 


3,050 


843 


146 


Twenty-seventh . . 


8,713 


32,971 


5,126 


1,700 


148 


Twenty-eighth . . 


12,175 


44,761 


8,727 


2,602 


534 


Twenty-ninth . . 


386 


1,442 


240 


131 


55 


Thirtieth .... 


322 


1,196 


329 


105 


66 


Thirty-first . . . 


177 


584 


129 


65 


74 


Thirty-second . . 


36 


102 


24 


14 


11 


Total 


145,678 


557,014 


96,417 


33,771 


9,895 















240 STATISTICAL STUDY OF NEW YORK'S TENEMENT HOUSES 



BOROUGH OF THE BRONX 

RESULTS OF TENEMENT HOUSE CENSUS DURING THE FIKST Six MONTHS OF 1900 
TABLE No. 9 



WARDS 


FRONT 

Huuess 


RXAB 
HOUSES 


TOTAL 
TENEMENTS 


No. 

FAMILIES 


VACANT 
APART- 

MBNT8 


OCCU- 
PANTS 

OVER 5 

YBARS 


OCCU- 
PANTS 

UNDER 5 
YXARS 


TOTAL 
TENEMENT 
POPULA- 
TION 


Twenty-third . 


3,560 


11 


3,571 


19,262 


4,032 


81,735 


11,213 


92,948 


Twenty -fourth 


794 





794 


2,672 


1,296 


11,447 


1,632 


13,079 


Total . . . 


4,354 


11 


4,365 


21,934 


5,328 


93,182 


12,845 


106,027 



BOROUGH OF RICHMOND 

RESULTS OF TENEMENT HOUSE CENSUS DURING THE FIRST Six MONTHS OF 1900 
TABLE No. 10 



WARDS 


FRONT 
HOUSES 


REAR 
HOUSES 


TOTAL 

TENE- 
MENTS 


No. OK 
FAMILIES 


VACANT 
APART- 
MENTS 


OCCUPANTS 

OVER 5 

YEARS 


OCCUPANTS 

UNDER 5 

YEARS 


TOTAL 
TENEMENT 
POPULA- 
TION 


First . . 


208 





208 


659 


89 


2,289 


468 


2,757 


Second . . 


127 





127 


410 


79 


1,310 


270 


1,580 


Third . . 


34 





34 


103 


14 


316 


77 


392 


Fourth . . 


41 





41 


127 


30 


405 


66 


471 


Fifth . . 


8 





8 


22 


34 


73 


14 


87 


Total . 


418 





418 


1,323 


246 


4,392 


895 


5,287 



BOROUGH OF QUEENS 

RESULTS OF TENEMENT HOUSE CENSUS DURING THE FIRST Six MONTHS OF 1900 
TABLE No. 11 



TOTAL 
TENEMENTS 


No. FAMILIES 


APARTMENTS 


OCCUPANTS 

OVER 5 

YEARS 


OCCUPANTS 

UNDER 5 

YEARS 


TOTAL 
TENEMENT 
POPULATION 


1,398 


5,318 


635 


18;575 


3,759 


22,334 



THE NON-ENFOECEMENT OF THE TENEMENT 
HOUSE LAWS IN NEW BUILDINGS 

BY LAWRENCE VEILLER 



THE NON-ENFORCEMENT OF THE TENEMENT 
HOUSE LAWS IN NEW BUILDINGS 



IN order to ascertain how far the evils of our tenement houses 
were due to the defects of the existing law or to its non-enforcement, 
the Tenement House Commission caused to be made a number of 
inspections of the tenement houses in actual course of construction 
throughout the different boroughs of the city. Lists of all the 
tenement houses in course of construction were obtained from the 
Department of Buildings in the latter part of July, and the work 
of inspecting these houses was commenced on July 28. Expert 
inspectors were hired, who were in every case practical men, either 
architects or builders of considerable experience. In every case 
each inspection was made by two men, so that all facts might be 
accurately recorded, and each report was signed by both inspectors. 
An inquiry blank (a copy of which will be found in Appendix 
No. X) was used in making this investigation, and in every case the 
inspectors were required to make a plan of the typical floor of the 
tenement house, showing the unoccupied area and the arrangement 
and measurements of all shafts and courts, and also the building. This 
examination was made with the sole purpose of ascertaining the 
facts, and the inspectors were not instructed to find violations of the 
law, nor were they informed what the purpose of the inquiry was 
beyond the statement that they were to report, upon the information 
asked for in the inquiry blank. As will be seen from a study of this 
blank, it was not attempted to see whether the tenement house laws 
were being enforced in all particulars, but only the most important 
ones, nor were the general questions of the structural side of the law 
gone into, but only those parts of the law that pertained especially to 
tenement houses. In all 1044 new tenement houses were inspected. 

MANHATTAN 

The work in the Borough of Manhattan was commenced on 
July 28, and stopped on September 11, and was again resumed 
on September 25, being completed on October 1. Three differ- 
ent groups of inspectors were employed in the Borough of Man- 

243 



244 THE NON-ENFORCEMENT OF THE 

hattan, and all of the buildings upon the list furnished by the 
Department of Buildings were examined, being 701 in all. Of these 
701 new tenement houses in course of construction, in 28 cases no 
information was obtainable at the time of the inspectors' visit, the 
work on the buildings not having sufficiently progressed. In 2 
cases the buildings upon examination were found not to be tene- 
ment houses, and in the case of 21 buildings, owing to the condition 
of the work at the time, sufficient information could not be obtained 
to determine whether the laws were being enforced or not. 

Of the remaining 650 buildings, 317 of these were found to be 
better-class apartment houses and therefore not to the same extent 
within the purpose of this investigation. These apartment houses 
were just as thoroughly inspected, however, as the other buildings, 
and the same information obtained. It has not been thought neces- 
sary, however, to tabulate the results in the case of these buildings. 

Of the remaining 333 tenement houses inspected, only 15 tene- 
ment houses, or 4 per cent of all, were found where there were no 
violations of the tenement house law. In one house were found as 
many as 13 different violations of the law, in another house 9 different 
violations, in 7 houses 8 different violations in each, in 2 houses 7 
different violations, in 21 houses 6 different violations, in 46 houses 
5 different violations, in 57 houses 4 different violations, in 56 
houses 3 different violations, in 74 houses 2 violations, and in 53 
houses 1 violation in each, making a total of 1045 violations in 
318 houses. 

The most important provision of the tenement house law is that 
in regard to light and ventilation, providing that only 65 per cent 
of the area of the lot may be occupied by a new tenement house. 
The Commissioner of Buildings, however, is given discretionary 
power to permit as much as 75 per cent of the lot to be occupied, 
where in his opinion the light and ventilation of the building is 
materially improved. It is questionable whether this discretionary 
power applies to new tenement houses or is limited solely to altera- 
tions to existing buildings ; at any rate, the practice in the Depart- 
ment of Buildings has been to rule that this applies to new tenement 
houses. This provision, of course, does not apply to corner tene- 
ment houses, but solely to those on interior lots, and in no case is 
more than 75 per cent of the lot permitted to be occupied. 

Out of 286 tenements inspected where this information was ob- 
tainable, 284, or 99 per cent, covered more than 65 per cent of the 
lot ; 276 tenement houses, or 96 per cent, covered more than 70 per 
cent of the lot ; 90 tenement houses, or 32 per cent, covered exactly 
75 per cent of the lot ; and 88 tenement houses, or 31 per cent, cov- 
ered more than 75 per cent of the lot (the extreme maximum 



TENEMENT HOUSE LAWS IN NEW BUILDINGS 245 

authorized by law in any case). And 29 tenements, or 10 per cent, 
covered 80 per cent of the lot and over. 

The following detailed list shows just what percentages of the 
lot were occupied in the different cases : 

PERCENTAGES OF LOTS OCCUPIED ON INTERIOR LOTS 

1 building occupied 97 per cent of the lot 
1 building occupied 87 per cent of the lot 

6 buildings occupied 85 per cent of the lot 

1 building occupied 84 per cent of the lot 

2 buildings occupied 83 per cent of the lot 
5 buildings occupied 82 per cent of the lot 

13 buildings occupied 80 per cent of the lot 
4 buildings occupied 79 per cent of the lot 

7 buildings occupied 78 per cent of the lot 
21 buildings occupied 77 per cent of the lot 
27 buildings occupied 76 per cent of the lot 
90 buildings occupied 75 per cent of the lot 
78 buildings occupied 74 per cent of the lot 
17 buildings occupied 73 per cent of the lot 

2 buildings occupied 72 per cent of the lot 

1 building occupied 71 per cent of the lot 

3 buildings occupied 69 per cent of the lot 

2 buildings occupied 68 per cent of the lot 

3 buildings occupied 67 per cent of the lot 

These did not include any tenements which ran through from 
one street to another street, of which there were 7. In all of these 
cases the tenements covered over 83 per cent of the lot, although the 
law makes no distinction in reference to buildings of this kind, nor 
has the Commissioner of Buildings any discretion in such cases to 
permit more than 75 per cent of the lot to be occupied. 

BUILDINGS RUNNING THROUGH FROM ONE STREET TO ANOTHER STREET 

1 building occupied 96 per cent 

1 building occupied 95 per cent 

2 buildings occupied 92 per cent 
1 building occupied 90 per cent 
1 building occupied 87 per cent 
1 building occupied 84 per cent 

In reference to tenement houses on corner lots, in only 3 cases 
was more than 92 per cent of the lot covered, the maximum author- 
ized by law. 

The law prescribes that the Commissioner of Buildings shall have 
power to make regulations as to the size of air shafts. Acting under 
this power the Commissioner of Buildings has made the regulation 
that above the fifth story air shafts shall increase in width 4 inches 
at each story. Out of 172 new tenement houses, in 62 cases, or 36 
per cent, these air shafts were not increased above the fifth story as 
required. In 10 buildings the air shafts were even less than 2 feet 
4 inches in width, the minimum required by law. 



246 THE NON-ENFORCEMENT OF THE 

In the 107 tenement houses where the basements were arranged 
to be used for living purposes, it was found that in 9 buildings the 
height of the rooms was less than 8 feet, the minimum prescribed by 
the Building Department regulations, that in 2 buildings such rooms 
did not have windows opening on an area in front of the rooms, as 
prescribed by law ; that in 3 cases the area in front of the basement 
rooms was not properly drained, and that in 9 cases the ceilings of 
the basement living rooms were less than 2 feet above the level of 
the curb, as the law requires. 

Out of 301 buildings where the information was obtainable, it 
was found that in 3 buildings there was no entrance to the basement 
from the outside of the building, as required by law. 

Out of 223 cases where the information was obtainable, in 6 
buildings the cellar floors were not concreted. 

In all new tenement houses over 3 stories and cellar in height, 
the law requires that the floors of the public halls shall be constructed 
of slow-burning or fireproof material. Out of 144 new tenements 
of this kind, in 96 cases, or 67 per cent, the floors of the public halls 
were constructed entirely of wood, that is, the floor beams were of 
wood as well as the flooring. 

The law also requires that in all new tenement houses over 3 
stories and cellar in height the stairs shall be constructed of slow- 
burning or fireproof construction ; out of 116 new tenement houses, 
in 113 cases, or 97 per cent, the stairs were constructed of wood 
instead of slow-burning or fireproof construction. 

The law also requires that in new tenement houses over 3 stories 
and cellar in height the stairs shall be enclosed with walls of slow- 
burning or fireproof construction ; out of 140 new tenement houses, 
in 82 cases, or 58 per cent, these stairs were enclosed simply by 
wooden stud partitions, and in only 6 cases, or 4 per cent, were the 
stairs enclosed by brick walls. 

The law also requires that wherever the stairs leading to the cellar 
are located inside of the building, they shall be enclosed with brick 
walls and be provided with fireproof self-closing doors at both the 
top and bottom of the flight of stairs. Out of 27 cases where the 
cellar stairs were located inside of the building, in 10 cases, or 33 per 
cent, the stairs were enclosed with wooden partitions, contrary to 
law; in only 2 cases, or 8 per cent, out of 27 were there fireproof 
doors at both top and bottom of the cellar stairs. 

The law also requires that all openings to dumb-waiter shafts in 
new tenement houses over 3 stories high shall be fireproof and self- 
closing so as to prevent the spread of fire through the building, 
the object of having the doors self-closing being so that they shall 
not be left open in any case ; out of 207 new tenement houses, 



TENEMENT HOUSE LAWS IN NEW BUILDINGS 247 

in 201, or 97 per cent, these dumb-waiter doors were not self- 
closing. 

The law requires that every habitable room in a tenement house 
shall contain at least 600 cubic feet of air space. Out of 318 build- 
ings where this information was obtainable, in 12 cases, or 3 per cent, 
the living rooms were found to contain less than this amount, in 
some cases containing only 421 cubic feet of air. 

For all buildings 5 stories or over in height the law requires that 
the first tier of beams over the cellar shall be of iron with fireproof 
filling. In 5 buildings this law was found to be violated, the beams 
being wood; 2 of these buildings were 5 stories and basement in 
height, and 3 others were 7 stories in height. 

One of the points of inquiry was whether the second tier of 
beams was fireproof in cases where there was a store on the first 
floor ; as this law did not take effect until December 23, 1899, and 
as all plans that were filed in the Building Department prior to 
this date were interpreted under the old law, the number of build- 
ings inspected that were built under plans filed subsequently was 
so small as to afford no basis of information upon this subject. 

The law requires that " in every new tenement house there shall 
be one water-closet for every two families or fraction thereof." No 
violations of this law were found. It is interesting to record that in 
185 buildings, out of 301, or 61 per cent, a private water-closet was 
provided for each family. The law also requires that all water- 
closets shall be ventilated by a window to the outer air or have an 
air shaft. No violations of this section were found. 

The law requires that the floor of all water-closet compartments 
shall be made waterproof with suitable material. Out of 249 cases 
where this information was obtainable, in 32, or 12 per cent, the 
floors were not constructed waterproof. 

The Charter provides, in Section 1320, "that every tenement 
house erected after May 7, 1887, shall have the halls on each floor 
open directly to the external air with suitable windows, and shall 
have no room or other obstruction at the end, unless sufficient light 
or ventilation is otherwise provided for in said halls, in a manner 
approved by the Department of Buildings." Out of 318 buildings, 
in 17 cases, or 5 per cent, both the halls and stairs were without 
any window to the outer air, as required. 

The tenement house law has required for over thirty years that 
a yard 10 feet deep across the full width of the lot shall be left at 
the rear of every new tenement house, except in the case of corner 
lots. Out of 278 buildings situated on interior lots, in 13 cases this 
mandatory provision of the statute was violated, and the yard space 
was less than 10 feet in depth. 



248 THE NON-ENFORCEMENT OF THE 

The law requires in the case of new tenement houses on a corner 
lot that a yard space of 5 feet shall be left at the rear of the build- 
ing. Prior to the enactment of the Charter this yard space was 
required only above the first story. In the Charter the words 
" above the first story " were omitted, thus requiring a yard space 
throughout the entire height of the building. Out of the 40 new 
tenement houses located on corner lots, in 24 buildings, or 60 per 
cent, no yard space was left upon the ground floor, as required by 
law, and in 11 buildings, or 27 per cent, the yard space was less 
than 5 feet, as required by the Charter. 

THE BRONX 

In the Borough of the Bronx, 201 new tenement houses were 
inspected, about half of the total number in course of construction. 
The work of inspection in this Borough was commenced on Oc- 
tober 1, and ended on October 10. Out of the 201 buildings 
inspected, 16 buildings were found upon examination not to be 
tenement houses, and in 31 cases sufficient information was not 
obtainable at the time of the visit by the inspectors, owing to the 
condition of work upon the buildings, to determine whether the law 
was being enforced or not. Out of these 154 tenement houses there 
were no houses without some violation of the tenement house law. 
In 7 houses were found as many as 10 different violations of the 
law, in 13 houses 9 different violations of the law, in 30 houses 8 
different violations of the law, in 31 houses 7 different violations of 
the law, in 33 houses 6 different violations of the law, in 20 houses 

5 different violations of the law, in 13 houses 4 different violations 
of the law, and in 7 houses 3 different violations of the law, making 
a total of 1015 violations in 154 tenement houses, or an average of 

6 violations to each house. 

In regard to the percentage of the lot permitted to be occupied, 
out of 139 tenement houses located on lots which were not corner 
lots, 110, or 80 per cent, occupied more than 65 per cent of the lot ; 
62 houses, or 44 per cent, occupied 70 per cent or over of the area 
of the lot ; 29 houses, or 20 per cent, occupied just 75 per cent of 
the area of the lot ; and 6 buildings, or 4 per cent, occupied over 75 
per cent of the lot, the extreme maximum permitted by law. 

PERCENTAGES OF LOTS OCCUPIED ON INTERIOR LOTS 

1 building occupied 77 per cent of the lot 

5 buildings occupied 76 per cent of the lot 
29 buildings occupied 75 per cent of the lot 

7 buildings occupied 74 per cent of the lot 

6 buildings occupied 73 per cent of the lot 
6 buildings occupied 72 per cent of the lot 



TENEMENT HOUSE LAWS IN NEW BUILDINGS 249 

2 buildings occupied 71 per cent of the lot 
6 buildings occupied 70 per cent of the lot 

11 buildings occupied 69 per cent of the lot 
14 buildings occupied 68 per cent of the lot 
23 buildings occupied 67 per cent of the lot 

1 building occupied 65 per cent of the lot 

4 buildings occupied 64 per cent of the lot 
10 buildings occupied 63 per cent of the lot 

3 buildings occupied 62 per cent of the lot 

3 buildings occupied 59 per cent of the lot 

4 buildings occupied 56 per cent of the lot 
1 building occupied 54 per cent of the lot 

1 building occupied 50 per cent of the lot 

2 buildings occupied 49 per cent of the lot 

Fifteen of these new buildings were located on corner lots and 
in all cases the law in this respect was complied with. 

In regard to the size of air shafts, in three cases these shafts 
were even less than the minimum of 2 feet 4 inches in width, pre- 
scribed by law. As none of the buildings examined in the Bronx 
was over 5 stories in height, there was no opportunity of violating 
the requirements of the Building Department that the width of such 
shafts shall increase 4 inches at each story above the fifth story. 

Of 130 buildings where the basements were arranged for living 
purposes it was found that in 9 buildings, or 7 per cent, the height of 
the rooms was less than the minimum of 8 feet required by the regula- 
tions of the Building Department. In all cases the living rooms in 
basements had windows opening upon an area, as required by law, 
and in no case was the ceiling in these basement rooms less than 2 feet 
above the curb level. Out of 154 buildings, in 124 the cellar floors 
were found to be concreted, and in the other 30 buildings the floors 
had not been concreted at the time of the inspection. 

Out of 138 tenement houses over 3 stories and basement in 
height, in 136 buildings, or 98 per cent, the floors of the public halls 
and also the entire stairs were constructed entirely of wood instead 
of slow-burning or fireproof material. 

In addition, out of 39 buildings 5 stories in height, where the 
law provides that the public halls and stairs shall be not only 
slow-burning but absolutely fireproof, i.e. iron with fireproof floor- 
ing and metal or stone treads, in 37 cases, or 95 per cent, the stairs 
were wood. 

Out of 154 buildings, in 150 cases, or 98 per cent, the stairs were 
enclosed with wooden partitions instead of fireproof material as re- 
quired by law. 

The law requires that the stairs leading to the cellar shall, where 
practicable, be located outside of the building, and that when located 
inside of the building they shall be enclosed with brick walls, and 
be provided with fireproof self-closing doors at the top and bottom. 



250 THE NON-ENFORCEMENT OF THE 

In the 89 buildings where the cellar stairs were inside of the build- 
ing all the stairs were enclosed in brick walls. In no case were 
there fireproof self-closing doors at both top and bottom, i.e. this part 
of the law was violated in every case. In 30 buildings no doors had 
been provided at the time of the inspection; 3 of these buildings 
were completed ; in 21 buildings there were wooden doors at the top 
and no doors at the bottom, and in 38 cases there were iron doors at 
the bottom and wooden doors at the top. 

The law requires that wherever a dumb-waiter shaft extends 
through more than three stories in a residence building the shaft 
shall be constructed fireproof, with fireproof self-closing doors at all 
openings, and especially that in the cellar there shall be fireproof 
self-closing doors. 

In 102 buildings, or 66 per cent, there were fireproof doors pro- 
vided in the cellar to the openings of the dumb-waiter shafts ; in 38 
buildings, or 24 per cent, doors had not been provided ; in 14 build- 
ings there were openings but no doors, and the buildings were 
occupied, i.e. in 33 per cent of the cases the openings in the cellar 
were without fireproof doors ; in 13 buildings, or 8 per cent, the 
doors were self-closing, in 92 per cent of the cases the doors were 
not self-closing as required by law. The law also requires that 
these dumb-waiter doors on the other floors of the building shall 
be self-closing, so that they cannot be left open and thus allow fire to 
spread through the building. Out of 154 buildings there was not 
one building where these dumb-waiter doors were self-closing. 

The law also provides that in all tenement houses 5 stories or 
over in height, or having 4 stories and a basement above a cellar, 
the first tier of beams above the cellar shall be of iron with fireproof 
flooring ; 138 buildings out of the 154 buildings examined were 
over 4 stories in height ; 99 buildings were 4 stories and basement, 
and 39 buildings were 5 stories. Out of these 39 buildings 5 stories 
in height, in 21 cases, or 54 per cent, the first tier of beams was con- 
structed of wood ; out of the 99 buildings 4 stories and basement in 
height, in 83 buildings, or 83 per cent, the beams were of wood 
instead of being fireproof, i.e. out of 138 buildings where the beams 
by law were required to be fireproof, in 104 cases, or 74 per cent, 
this provision of the law was violated. 

The law in regard to having one water-closet for every 2 
families, or fraction thereof, was found to be observed in every 
case. It is interesting to note that in 147 cases, or 95 per cent of 
all, each family was provided with its own individual water-closet, 
although the law only requires one water-closet for every 2 fami- 
lies. The law requiring every water-closet to be ventilated to the 
outer air or to an air shaft was found to be observed in every case. 



TENEMENT HOUSE LAWS IN NEW BUILDINGS 251 

Out of 154 buildings, in 86 cases, or 56 per cent, the floors of the 
water-closet compartment were not waterproof, as required by law. 

The law requires that the halls in all new tenement houses shall 
have a window opening directly to the outer air. In 86 cases out 
of 154, or 56 per cent, the halls had no windows to the outer air, in 
direct violation of the law. In the case of 139 buildings situated on 
interior lots in no case was any violation of the law found in regard 
to the requirement that the yard space at the rear of the building 
shall be 10 feet in depth ; and in only two cases out of fifteen was 
there a violation of the requirement that a space of 5 feet shall be 
left at the rear of a corner tenement house, such space to extend 
from the ground upward. 

In 21 buildings, or 14 per cent, the shafts provided to light 
and ventilate living rooms were less than 25 square feet, the mini- 
mum required by law; 9 of these buildings were 3 stories and 
basement in height, and 12 of the buildings were over 4 stories 
in height. These small shafts were generally of an area about 
10 square feet. In 4 buildings there were found a number of 
dark rooms in each building with no light or ventilation to the 
outer air whatsoever, contrary to the provisions of the Charter. It 
is interesting to note that out of the 154 tenement houses examined 
in the Bronx, in 137 cases, or 90 per cent of all, a private bath was 
provided for each family, and that in the cases where there were no 
private baths there were also no private water-closets, but the water- 
closets were used in common by as many as two families. 

BROOKLYN 

In Brooklyn 93 tenement houses were inspected. In 10 cases no 
information was obtainable, as the buildings had not progressed suffi- 
ciently. The work in Brooklyn started on October 2, and ended 
on October 10. Out of these 83 tenement houses there were no 
houses without some violation of the tenement house law. In 2 
buildings were found as many as 19 different violations of the law, 
in 12 buildings 15 different violations of the law, in 1 building 13 
different violations of the law, in 1 building 11 different violations 
of the law, in 6 buildings 9 different violations of the law, in 4 
buildings 8 different violations of the law, in 11 buildings 7 different 
violations of the law, in 10 buildings 6 different violations of the 
law, in 20 buildings 5 different violations of the law, and in 15 
buildings 4 different violations of the law, making a total of 625 
violations in 83 tenement houses. 

Of the 83 buildings inspected, 81 houses were situated on in- 
terior lots ; 50 of these, or 63 per cent, occupied over 65 per cent 



252 THE NON-ENFORCEMENT OF THE 

of the lot, while 34, or 42 per cent, occupied 70 per cent of the 
lot and over, and 7, or 9 per cent, occupied over 75 per cent of 
the lot, the maximum allowed by law under any circumstances. 

PERCENTAGES OF LOTS OCCUPIED ON INTERIOR LOTS 

1 building occupied 83 per cent of the lot 

2 buildings occupied 82 per cent of the lot 

3 buildings occupied 81 per cent of the lot 

1 building occupied 76 per cent of the lot 

3 buildings occupied 74 per cent of the lot 
6 buildings occupied 73 per cent of the lot 

4 buildings occupied 72 per cent of the lot 

3 buildings occupied 71 per cent of the lot 
12 buildings occupied 70 per cent of the lot 

2 buildings occupied 69 per cent of the lot 
14 buildings occupied 67 per cent of the lot 

4 buildings occupied 65 per cent of the lot 
2 buildings occupied 63 per cent of the lot 
9 buildings occupied 62 per cent of the lot 
2 buildings occupied 60 per cent of the lot 

5 buildings occupied 59 per cent of the lot 
4 buildings occupied 55 per cent of the lot 
4 buildings occupied 53 per cent of the lot 
1 building occupied 51 per cent of the lot 

The 2 buildings located on corner lots occupied no more than the 
amount authorized by law, namely 92 per cent. 

As there were no buildings over 5 stories high, there could be no 
violations of the law requiring the air shafts to be increased 4 inches 
in width at each story above the fifth story. 

The tenement house law requires that every room in a new tene- 
ment house shall have a window opening directly to the outer air, 
and prohibits any air shafts less than 25 square feet in area as a 
means of ventilating any such room ; and also prohibits any such 
air shaft from being roofed over, it not being considered outer air 
under such circumstances. Out of 83 new tenement houses, in 52 
cases, or 62 per cent of all, the rooms had no windows to the outer 
air, but secured their sole light and ventilation from small enclosed 
air shafts about 2 feet by 4 feet, or 8 square feet in area, and covered 
over at the top with a roof or skylight, in direct violation of the 
law. 

In 9 buildings out of the 83, the basements were divided into rooms 
for living purposes, and in 6 cases out of these 9, or 66 per cent, the 
height of such rooms was less than 8 feet, the minimum required by 
the Building Department regulations, and in 1 case the ceiling of 
such living room was level with the curb instead of 2 feet above the 
curb. 

The tenement house laws require that in new tenement houses 
the halls shall have windows opening to the outer air. Out of 83 
new tenement houses, in 58 cases, or 70 per cent of all, the halls had 
no windows to the outer air. 



TENEMENT HOUSE LAWS IN NEW BUILDINGS 253 

The law requires that in new tenement houses over 3 stories and 
cellar in height, the floors of public halls shall be constructed of 
slow-burning or fireproof material. Out of 44 new tenements of 
this kind, in 29 cases, or 66 per cent of all, the floors of the public 
halls were constructed of wood. 

The law also requires in new tenements of this class (i.e. new 
tenements over 3 stories and cellar in height) that the stairs shall be 
slow-burning or fireproof. Out of 44 new tenements, 44, or 100 
per cent of all, had the stairs constructed of wood instead of slow- 
burning or fireproof material. 

The same law requires that such stairs shall be enclosed with 
walls of slow-burning or fireproof construction. Out of 44 new 
tenement houses of this kind, in 31, or 70 per cent, the stairs were 
enclosed by wooden stud partitions. 

The law in regard to the construction of cellar stairs requires 
that if possible the stairs shall be located outside of the tenement 
house, but if they are located inside they shall be enclosed with brick 
walls and provided with fireproof self-closing doors at the top and 
bottom. Out of 79 new tenement houses where the cellar stairs 
were inside the building, in 27 cases, or 34 per cent of all, the cellar 
stairs were not enclosed with brick walls ; in 25 cases, or 31 per 
cent of all, there were no fireproof doors at the top and bottom of 
the cellar stairs, and in 67 cases, or 85 per cent of all, these doors 
were not self-closing. 

Of the 83 buildings examined, in 8 there were no dumb-waiter 
shafts in the buildings, and in 9 buildings the buildings themselves 
were of wood and fireproof dumb-waiter shafts were not required. 
Of the remaining 66 buildings, in 25 cases the buildings were only 
3 stories and cellar in height, and it is a question whether under 
such circumstances the shafts had to be constructed fireproof ; as a 
matter of fact 22 of these shafts, or 88 per cent, were constructed 
of wood ; the remaining 41 buildings were 4 stories and cellar in 
height and over, of these in 5 cases, or 12 per cent, the dumb-waiter 
shafts were not fireproof, as required by law. 

Out of 83 buildings, 3 buildings, or 3 per cent, were found to 
contain living rooms of a less size than 600 cubic feet, the minimum 
allowed by law. 

Of the 23 buildings 5 stories in height, or having 4 stories and 
a basement above a cellar, in 13 cases, or 56 per cent, the first 
tier of beams was constructed of wood, instead of being fireproof 
as required by law. The provision of the law requiring one water- 
closet for every 2 families was found to be observed in every case, 
as were the other requirements of the law that the water-closet shall 
have windows opening to the outer air. One instance was found, 



254 THE NON-ENFORCEMENT OF THE 

however, where the water-closet accommodations for a new tene- 
ment house were placed in the yard, in direct violation of the law. 
In 5 cases, or 6 per cent, out of 80 the floors of the water-closet 
compartments were not waterproof, as required by law. It is inter- 
esting to note that in 74 of the buildings, or 90 per cent of all, a 
private water-closet was provided for each family. 

QUEENS 

In the Borough of Queens 49 tenement houses, or the entire 
number under construction, were inspected. Upon examination 3 
buildings were found not to be tenement houses, and in 8 cases no 
information was obtainable. Out of the 38 tenement houses there 
were no houses without some violation of the tenement house law. 
In 2 buildings were found as many as 11 different violations of the 
law, in 2 buildings were found 10 different violations of the law, in 
3 buildings were found 8 different violations of the law, in 6 build- 
ings were found 7 different violations of the law, in 7 buildings were 
found 6 different violations of the law, in 7 buildings were found 
5 different violations of the law, in 6 buildings were found 4 different 
violations of the law, in 1 building were found 3 different violations 
of the law, in 3 buildings 2 different violations of the law, and in 1 
case only 1 violation of the law, making a total of 219 violations in 
38 tenement houses. 

Of the 38 new tenement houses inspected, 6 of these, or 16 per 
cent, occupied over 65 per cent of the area of the lot. 

PERCENTAGES OF LOTS OCCUPIED ON INTERIOR LOTS 

1 building occupied 94 per cent of the lot 
1 building occupied 70 per cent of the lot 
1 building occupied 68 per cent of the lot 

1 building occupied 67 per cent of the lot 

2 buildings occupied 66 per cent of the lot 
2 buildings occupied 65 per cent of the lot 
1 building occupied 64 per cent of the lot 

1 building occupied 63 per cent of the lot 

2 buildings occupied 62 per cent of the lot 
6 buildings occupied 60 per cent of the lot 
6 buildings occupied 59 per cent of the lot 
2 buildings occupied 57 per cent of the lot 
1 building occupied 56 per cent of the lot 
1 building occupied 55 per cent of the lot 
1 building occupied 52 per cent of the lot 
1 building occupied 50 per cent of the lot 
1 building occupied 47 per cent of the lot 

1 building occupied 46 per cent of the lot 

2 buildings occupied 45 per cent of the lot 

Of the 4 buildings situated on corner lots all complied with the 
law in this respect, none of these buildings occupying more than 92 



TENEMENT HOUSE LAWS IN NEW BUILDINGS 255 

per cent of the lot. As there were no buildings over 5 stories in 
height, there could be no violations of the law requiring an increase 
in width of air shafts above the fifth story. The law requires that in 
every new tenement house all rooms shall have windows opening 
directly to the outer air, and also provides that no air shaft to light 
and ventilate rooms shall be less than 25 square feet in area, and 
such shafts shall not be covered or roofed over at the top. Not- 
withstanding this fact, out of 34 new tenement houses, in 30 cases, 
or 94 per cent of all, the rooms had no windows to the outer air, but 
opened solely on small interior, enclosed vent shafts about 2 feet by 
4 feet, covered over by a roof or skylight at the top, contrary to law. 

The law also requires that the halls and stairs of new tenement 
houses shall have a window or windows opening directly to the outer 
air. Out of 34 new tenement houses, in 30 cases, or 88 per cent, the 
halls and stairs had no windows to the outer air, contrary to law. 

Out of the 5 buildings arranged to be used for dwelling purposes 
in the basement, in 3 buildings, or 60 per cent, the rooms were less 
than 8 feet in height, and in 2 buildings, or 40 per cent, such rooms 
did not have windows opening upon an area as required by law. 

There were only 2 buildings over 3 stories and cellar in height, 
and in both of these cases the law requiring the floors of the public 
hall to be slow-burning or fireproof was violated. Also in these 2 
buildings the stairs were constructed of wood instead of being con- 
structed of slow-burning or fireproof material, and were enclosed 
by wooden partitions instead of being enclosed by partitions of slow- 
burning or fireproof material, all of which was in direct violation of 
the law. 

Where cellar stairs in new tenement houses are located inside of 
the building, the law requires that they shall be enclosed with brick 
walls, with fireproof self-closing doors at the top and bottom of such 
stairs. Out of 23 new tenement houses where the cellar stairs were 
inside of the building, in 20 cases, or 87 per cent, these stairs were 
not enclosed with brick walls as required by law ; and in 22 cases, or 
96 per cent, there were no fireproof self-closing doors at the top and 
bottom of such stairs. 

In the single case where a building was 5 stories in height and 
where the first tier of beams should have been fireproof as required 
by law, the beams were of wood. 

Out of the 38 buildings inspected, in one case a violation of the 
law requiring one water-closet for every 2 families was found ; in 24 
buildings there was one water-closet for every 2 families, and in 9 
there was one for each individual family. The law requires that all 
water-closet compartments shall open directly to the outer air. In 
21 cases out of 34 where this information was obtainable, the water- 



256 THE NON-ENFORCEMEXT OF THE 

closets opened upon small shafts less than 25 square feet in area, 
these shafts being covered over at the top with a roof or skylight. 
In 19 cases out of 34, or 55 per cent, the floors of the water-closet 
compartments were not waterproof, as the law requires. 

In the Borough of Richmond only 2 tenement houses were being 
constructed; both of these were examined, but work on them had not 
sufficiently progressed to enable the inspectors to obtain any definite 
information. 



TENEMENT HOUSE LAWS IX NEW BUILDINGS 



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VOL. I I 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRES IN NEW YORK 

BY HUGH BONNEK AND LAWRENCE VEILLER 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRES IN NEW YORK 



DURING the past twelve months 41 persons have been burned to 
death in tenement houses in this city, and 34 persons have been more 
or less seriously injured. The newspaper records of these fires 
relate an almost continuous chapter of horrors, describing panic- 
stricken tenants jumping from windows and heroic rescues by fire- 
men. The following headings of tenement house fires, taken from 
the Neiv York Times, the Commercial Advertiser, the Evening Post, and 
the Mail and Express, all papers thoroughly conservative and in no 
way sensational, give one a realizing sense of the horror of such 
occurrences : 

Crazed by Fright at a Fire ! Youth Refuses to Follow His Father 
and Jumps from a Window ! [Cow. Adv., Dec. 27, 1899.] Fire Empties 
a Tenement ! 12 Families Forced to Flee to the Street ! [Com. Adv., 
Jan. l, 1900.] One Dead, 11 Injured in Fire ! Crowded First Avenue 
Tenement Wrecked ! A Baby's the Only Life Lost, but Brave 
Rescuers Prevent Long List of Casualties ! Flames Shoot up Air 
Shaft ! [Evg. Sun, Jan. 2, 1900.] Loss of Life in a First Avenue Fire 
2 Children Dead 3 Missing and 7 Persons Injured ! Flames 
Burst Out Suddenly! [Times, Jan. 2, 1900.] 3 Perish in Midnight 
Fire. Flames sweep through a Big Five-Story Tenement! Other 
Tenants are Missing ! Policemen Make Many Rescues ! 4 Fire- 
men Overcome by Gas and Smoke ! [Times, Jan. 6, 1900.] 16 Families 
Homeless ! A f 10,000 Tenement House Fire ! Rescues by a Police- 
man and Watchman ! [Evg. Post, Feb. 4, 1900.] A Tenement Fire 
Panic ! Tenants Rush to Escape from Flames and Smoke in a 
Broome Street Blaze! [Post, Feb. 10, 1900. ] Panic at Harlem Fire! 
Negro and 2 White Men Rescue 6 Children the Negro makes a 
Derrick of His Body, His Legs Held by the White Men, and Swings 
the Children to Safety ! [Times, March 21, 1900.] Fires Menace Many 
Lives ! Two Victims of the Flames will Probably Die ! The 
Bravery of Policeman Saves Women and Children in East Side 
Tenement Houses! [Times, April 14, 1900.] Three Die in Flames! 
Children Victims of Fire in Tenement at No. 74 Forsyth Street ! 

261 



262 TENEMENT HOUSE FIRES IN NEW YORK 

Girl Saves Her Father's Life ! Policeman Falls a Story with Two 
Babies in His Arms ! Many Walk a Plank Across Dizzy Abyss to 
Safety. [Mail and Express, April 25, 1900.] 11 Persons Dead in Tenement 
Fire ! Policemen Face Flames and Smoke and Make Brave Rescues ! 
Entire Family Wiped Out ! Of another Household 3 are Dead and 
6 Lie in Gouverneur Hospital Terribly Injured ! [Times, June 16, 1900.] 
Second Tenement Fire ! One Woman Burned to Death and Many 
other Persons Injured ! Panic-stricken Inmates of Building Leap 
to Adjoining Roofs Women and Children Trampled On ! [Times, 
June 16, 1900.] Panic-stricken at a Fire Firemen and Policemen 
Have Difficulty in Rescuing Tenants from Burning Building ! 
[Times, July 5, 1900.] Fire in Italian Tenement The Men Seek their 
own Safety. Police Rescue Women and Children ! [Times, Aug. 9, 1900.] 
Eight Dead by Fire ! Awful Tragedy this Morning in Hester 
Street The Work of an Incendiary Woman Burned to Death 
on Fire-escape in Sight of Crowd ! Faces of Tortured People Seen 
at the Windows ! [Mail and Express, Oct. 17.] 

During a period of 11 years, from January 1, 1884, to January 1, 
1895, only 177 persons met their deaths in tenement house fires, 
while during the past twelve months (November 1, 1899, to Novem- 
ber 1, 1900) 41 persons have been killed in this manner, the number 
of deaths caused in this way in this one year being one-fourth of all 
the deaths occasioned by such cause in eleven years. 

This has been the loss in life only ; there is no way of estimating 
the suffering from exposure and panic and the mental strain engen- 
dered by such calamities, nor is there any way of estimating the 
financial loss to the poor people, from whom fire nearly always 
sweeps away all their possessions. To what extent these calamities 
could have been prevented and how far the construction of the build- 
ings in which they occurred was responsible for them, it becomes of 
the utmost importance to know. 

Forty-seven per cent of all the fires in the city occur in tene- 
ment houses, although these buildings are only 37 per cent of all the 
buildings in the city. 

During the years 1898 and 1899 there were 6324 fires in tene- 
ment houses in Greater New York. If all these fires had gained full 
headway before the arrival of the firemen, what the loss in life and 
property would have been one hesitates to imagine. Only a small 
number of these fires, however, became so serious before the arrival 
of the firemen that it was not possible to check them before they had 
spread throughout the building. The possibilities, however, for dis- 
astrous consequences existed in almost every case, and had it not 
been for the efficiency of the Fire Department, the results would have 
been far different. 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRES IN NEW YORK 263 

In order to ascertain how tenement houses should be constructed 
so as to minimize the danger from fire, it becomes necessary to have 
exact knowledge as to the way in which fires ordinarily spread 
through such buildings, so that those parts of the buildings which 
are the dangerous parts may be more fully protected. Do most tene- 
ment house fires extend from one part of the building to another by 
means of the light shafts, or through the stairways and public hall, 
or directly through the floors and partitions enclosing the rooms ? 
or in what ways do such fires spread, and to what extent? To 
ascertain these facts the original records of the Fire Department, 
contained in the reports of the chiefs of battalions, have been placed 
at the disposal of the Commission through the courtesy of the Fire 
Department. Over 60,000 of such records have been examined. 
From these records have been selected all those relating to fires 
which occurred in tenement houses during the years 1898 and 1899 in 
all the different boroughs of Greater New York, and also the records of 
similar fires occurring during the first six months of the year 1900 
in the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx. It was originally 
planned to extend this examination and study over a period of five 
years, but it was found that the original records of the Fire Depart- 
ment prior to 1898 were not available in such form as to be useful 
for this inquiry. 

An examination of the records for this period discloses the fact that 
during this time 7943 fires have occurred in tenement houses. A 
large number of these, however, were found to be of comparatively 
slight importance, having been extinguished in a few moments after 
the arrival of the apparatus of the Fire Department. It became nec- 
essary, therefore, at the start to distinguish between those tenement 
fires which were of relatively slight importance and those which 
extended throughout the building. It was found that in 329 tene- 
ment houses during this period the fires had extended through the 
buildings. 

The following table shows in detail the total number of fires in 
each borough, as well as the total number for the whole city, the 
number of tenement house fires, and the percentage of such fires. Of 
the tenement house fires, the number that were serious, and the 
number of those confined to the point of starting, and also the per- 
centage of the extended fires, has been given. Of this latter class 
a very detailed analysis is made of the course of such fires through 
the buildings, showing the number and percentage of those that ex- 
tended through light shafts, through the dumb-waiter and elevator 
shafts, through halls and stairs, through partitions and flooring, 
and in other ways. 

It appears from a study of these statistics that during the period 



264 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRES IN NEW YORK 



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TENEMENT HOUSE FIRES IN NEW YORK 265 

under examination (1898, 1899, and the first half of 1900), there 
were in the city of Greater New York a total number of 16,948 
fires, and that 7943 of these occurred in tenement houses, i.e. 
that 47 per cent, or nearly one-half, of all the fires occurred in 
buildings of this kind. Of these 7943 tenement house fires 7614 
were confined to the point of starting, while 329 extended through 
the building ; that is, 4 per cent of these fires were serious in their 
consequences. 

Of the 329 fires which extended through the building, 76, or 26 
per cent, spread by means of the light shafts ; 29, or 10 per cent, 
through the dumb-waiter and elevator shafts ; 59 of them, or 20 per 
cent, through the halls and stairs ; 14, or 5 per cent, through the 
light shaft combined with the halls and stairs ; 70, or 24 per cent, 
through the flooring or partitions ; 14, or 5 per cent, through the 
spaces around pipes ; 16, or 5 per cent, through windows outside 
the building, and 18, or 6 per cent, in other various ways. That is, 
approximately speaking, one-fourth of all the fires went through 
the light shafts, and one-fifth through the halls and stairs, while 
another fourth spread by means of the partitions and floorings. It 
becomes evident, therefore, that the small, narrow light shaft, serv- 
ing as a flue, is a source of the greatest danger in buildings of this 
kind, and from the point of view of fire, as well as from the sanitary 
point of view, the construction of such shafts in future tenement 
houses should be absolutely prohibited. It is equally apparent that 
the public halls and stairs in such buildings should be made abso- 
lutely fireproof, and that every precaution should be taken to pre- 
vent the spread of fire by confining it to such fireproof portions of 
the building. 

It might well be asked by a person studying this subject, 
Why is it that there are so many of these tenement house fires, 
and what is their cause ? A study of the records shows that the 
causes are of great variety, and that they are due in large measure 
to the fact that so great a number of people are living in such close 
contact. 

Among the causes most frequently noted are the careless use of 
matches, the upsetting of kerosene lamps, gas explosions, and the 
placing of clothing and furniture too near stoves, while many fires 
occur from children playing with matches on sofas and on beds. 
Other causes are to be found in fat boiling over, rubbish in cellars 
igniting, sparks from locomotives and fire-crackers, and a certain 
proportion are of incendiary origin. The following table shows the 
various causes of tenement house fires during the month of June of 
the year 1900 : 



266 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRES IN NEW YORK 



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TENEMENT HOUSE FIRES IN NEW YORK 267 

For a number of years it has been stated that a great many fires 
originate in cellars, and that a large proportion also originate in 
stores located on the first story of buildings of this kind ; and it has 
recently been supposed that a large number of tenement house fires 
are especially due to the fact that tenement house hallways are not 
kept lighted late at night, and that persons coming home at such 
times throw half-burned matches carelessly into the halls, thus set- 
ting fire to the building. 

The table opposite shows in detail how all the tenement house 
fires occurring during the first six months of the year 1900 origi- 
nated, differentiating the serious fires which extended through the 
building from those of slighter importance which were confined to 
the point of starting; and showing the actual number, as well as 
the percentage, of fires originating in the rooms of the tenants, the 
number of fires originating in the cellar, and in stores on the first 
floor, as well as those originating in halls and other parts of the 
building. 

It appears from a study of this table that during the period from 
January 1 to July 1, 1900, there occurred in the boroughs of Man- 
hattan and the Bronx 1619 tenement house fires; that of this num- 
ber 809, or 52 per cent, originated in the rooms of the tenants ; that 
405, or 26 per cent, originated in some part of the cellar, and that of 
these 405 cellar fires, 143, or one-third, originated in the wooden 
compartments reserved for the storage of wood and coal. Further, 
that only 153, or 10 per cent, started in stores on the first floor of 
the building, and that but 54, or 3 per cent, originated in the hall- 
ways, while 126, or 8 per cent, originated in other parts of the build- 
ing. Of these 1619 tenement house fires, 755, or 47 per cent, 
occurred in the night time, while 864, or 53 per cent, occurred in 
the day. 

It has been often asked whether the number of fires occurring 
in tenement houses bears a relation proportionate to the number of 
buildings of this kind in the city as compared with other kinds of 
buildings ; that is, while it may be true that practically one-half 
of the fires occur in tenement houses, is it not true that one-half of 
all the buildings in the city are buildings of this kind ? In order to 
appreciate the full value of these statistics, a table showing the num- 
ber of fires in tenement houses, and also in other classes of buildings, 
as compared with the actual number of such buildings in the city, has 
been prepared : 



268 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRES IN NEW YORK 



MANHATTAN AND THE BRONX 

1899 1 

A COMPARATIVE TABLE SHOWING NUMBER OF FIRES IN TENEMENTS AND OTHER KINDS 
or BUILDINGS AS WELL AS ACTUAL NUMBER OF EACH KIND OF BUILDING 





NUMBER 2 


TOTAL 
BUILDINGS 
IN CITY 


PERCENT- 
AGE OF 


NUMBER 
OF FIRES 

IN 


TOTAL FIRES 
IN CITY 


PERCENTAGE 
OF FIRES IN 


Tenement houses . . . 
Dwellings 


44,281 
49,742 

286 
1,172 
191 

507 

14,805 
8,165 


119,149 
119,149 

119,149 
119,149 
119,149 

119,149 

119,149 
119,149 


37 
42 
Less than 
1 
1 
Less than 
1 
Less than 
1 
12 
7 


2,551 
661 

24 

88 
22 

22 

1,209 
295 


4,872 
4,872 

4,872 
4,872 
4,872 

4,872 

4,872 
4,872 


52 
14 

1 

2 
Less than 
1 
Less than 
1 
25 
6 


Lodging houses . . . 
Hotels 


Theatres 


Schools 


Commercial buildings 
Miscellaneous .... 



From this table it appears that, while 52 per cent of all fires in 
the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx occurred in tenement 
houses, yet only 37 per cent of all the buildings in these boroughs 
are tenements. This fact assumes special significance when we con- 
sider that, while 42 per cent of all the buildings in the city are dwell- 
ing houses, or houses occupied by less than three families, yet only 
14 per cent of the fires occurred in such buildings. 

In order that the importance of constructing the hallways and 
public stairs of buildings absolutely fireproof may be more fully 
realized, we have appended to this report the results of our examina- 
tion of two tenement house fires occurring within twenty-four hours 
of each other. The one which occurred at No. 34 Jackson Street 
was in an old tenement house erected at least twenty-five years ago. 
In this building the halls and stairs and the partitions separating 
these halls and stairs from the rooms of the tenants were constructed 
entirely of wood, with the result that as soon as the fire reached the 
hallway it spread almost instantaneously through the entire building, 
at once reaching the apartments of the tenants and making escape 
impossible. At this fire eleven persons were killed and five injured. 
The other fire, at No. 26 Rutgers Street, was in a building erected 
in 1899. The fire started in one of the apartments on the first floor 
and immediately spread to the public halls and stairs of the building, 
to which the fire was entirely confined, although it extended through 



1 Eleven months. Tenement records for January not obtainable. 

1 Statistics taken from census made by Building Department, April 19, 1900. 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRES IN NEW YORK 269 

this hallway and stairs almost to the roof. The stairs and halls, 
however, were constructed fireproof, the stairs being of iron, with 
slate treads, and the partitions enclosing the halls were brick walls. 
Moreover, the halls were shut off from the private corridors of the 
building by means of doors, and this undoubtedly saved the building. 
In this latter fire but one person was killed, and this was through 
suffocation. It should be noted, however, that in the first case the 
fire occurred late at night, when the people were asleep, and the fire 
probably thus had opportunity to gain great headway before the 
apparatus of the Fire Department could be summoned ; while in 
the other case, at the Rutgers Street fire, the fire occurred at eight 
o'clock in the evening, when the streets were thronged with people, 
and when the alarm was quickly sent in. It would be hard to find 
two instances which illustrate better the value of fireproof construc- 
tion in the important parts of the building as compared with the 
danger of ordinary wooden construction than these two fires, occur- 
ring within so short a period of each other. 

We would especially call attention to the fact that there are in 
the city a large number of tenement houses in which there are 
wooden or frame air shafts and dumb-waiter shafts, such buildings 
having been constructed prior to 1887, when fireproof shafts were 
first required. 

These buildings are scattered all over the city, but are to be 
found especially in the district known as Yorkville. In that part 
of the city, from 40th to 86th street, from Third avenue to the East 
River, out of a total of 4672 tenement houses we find 1393, or 30 per 
cent, of such buildings constructed with these frame or wooden 
shafts. And from 86th street to 130th street, from Third avenue to 
the East River, we find, out of a total of 3093 tenement houses, 1102 
of such buildings, or 36 per cent, with these frame or wooden shafts. 
Such shafts in case of fire become immediately an inflammable flue, 
and make it almost impossible to save the building from total 
destruction. In many cases these houses are built in solid blocks 
all alike ; in other cases in rows of six or eight, or even ten at a 
time. It is hardly necessary to point out that such a condition of 
affairs is a serious menace to life and property in the neighborhood, 
and we believe that some action should be taken at once looking 
toward making these buildings as safe as possible without recon- 
structing them. The danger, we believe, can be very much mini- 
mized by requiring such shafts to be lined or covered with fireproof 
material. This will not involve a very great cost and will accom- 
plish excellent results. 

We have also appended to this report extracts from the reports 
of the chiefs of battalions from January 1 to July 1 of the present 



270 TENEMENT HOUSE FIRES IN NEW YORK 

year in reference to tenement house fires, either where there was 
loss of life, or where rescues of tenants were made by firemen. 

We believe that no tenement house should be erected in the 
future unless fireproof throughout. We appreciate, however, that 
such method of construction would increase the cost of such build- 
ings, and that there are other evils in our tenement houses to be 
remedied more serious even than the danger from fire. 



REPORT ON TWO TENEMENT HOUSE FIKES 
No. 34 JACKSON STREKT AND No. 26 RUTGERS STREET 

JUNE 16, 1900. 

INVESTIGATION OF TENEMENT HOUSE FIRE 
34 Jackson Street 

The scene of a disastrous tenement house fire on June 15, in which 
eleven persons were killed and six injured. Visited building at 
10.15 A.M. on June 16. Building is a five-story front and rear tenement 
built about twenty-five years ago. The rear building was not damaged in 
any way. Examined the front building ; found that the fire had raged 
furiously in the public hallway and stairs, which were almost burned 
entirely away, especially on the three upper floors ; it had spread also to 
nearly every one of the rooms of the building, and in most of the rooms 
the woodwork was badly charred, plaster fallen, doors burned, and in some 
cases floors burned through, bulkhead entirely burned out. These hallways 
were constructed entirely of wood ; the hall partitions were wooden studs with 
lath and plaster ; the stairs were wooden treads, risers, and strings, hand- 
rails and banisters ; the bulkhead was constructed of wooden studs with 
lath and plaster. The building was equipped with fire-escapes both front 
and rear, and balconies on front and rear took in one window of each 
apartment ; they were provided with vertical ladders, however, instead of 
stairs ; had they been provided with stairs with a hand-rail the loss of life 
might have been less. One thing that may have retarded somewhat the 
egress of the tenants from the building was that the balconies of the fire- 
escapes were placed somewhat farther below the windows of the apartments 
than is customary, making it somewhat difficult to get out of the windows, 

(Signed) LAWRENCE VEILLER. 

JUNE 16, 1900. 

INVESTIGATION OF TENEMENT HOUSE FIRE 
26 Rutgers Street 

The fire occurred on the evening of June 15. Visited scene of fire 
at 10.45 A.M. on June 16. The building is a new six-story and base- 
ment " double-decker " tenement house, erected in 1899. Excepting on the 
first and second floors the fire was confined entirely to the public hallway 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRES IN NEW YORK 271 

and stairs, with the exception of having reached the south air shaft in 
the adjoining building on the second and third floors, evidently having 
communicated through the front apartment on that side of the house. 
The halls and stairs in this building were constructed fireproof, the hall 
partition being brick walls and the stairs being iron strings and risers with 
slate treads, and iron banisters with wooden hand-rail, the wainscoting in 
the hall and on the stairs metal. On each floor there were doors shutting 
off the apartments and private halls from the staircase ; these doors where 
they were closed undoubtedly saved the building, as the stair side of them 
was found to be charred and burned, while the other side was intact, and 
excepting on the first and second floors the fire did not get beyond these 
doors. 

The building contains three families on a floor two in the front and 
one in the rear and is provided with fire-escapes on both front and rear ; 
the balconies on the front take in one window of each apartment, and those 
on the rear take in only one window, but there is only one family living 
in the rear. The fire-escapes are provided with ladders instead of stairs. 

(Signed) LAWRENCE VEILLER. 



REPORTS OF CHIEFS OF BATTALIONS OF THE FIRE DE- 
PARTMENT ON SOME OF THE EXTENDED TENEMENT 
HOUSE FIRES, JANUARY 1 TO JULY 1, 1900 

January 2 754 First Avenue 

Fire occurred at 1.11 A.M. (in the night). Found that all the occupants 
from the second floor up were cut off from means of escape on account of 
flames on stairway and rear fire-escape, the flames being driven by a strong 
northwest wind at that time which enveloped the whole fire-escape on the 
rear of the building ; ordered third alarm and jumping-out nets. Firemen 
were at this fire 5 hours and 30 minutes. During its progress, so far as 
ascertained, there were 35 persons rescued from the different floors by the 
officers and men of the Department, with 35- and 85-foot extension and 
scaling ladders, jumping nets, and other appliances for life-saving. Loretto 
Leonard, aged 6 years, was suffocated by heat and smoke on the fifth floor. 
(Signed) JOHN WELSH, Chief of 8th Battalion. 

January 6 305 East 92 d Street 

Fire started at 12.09 A.M. (in the night). Cause of fire unknown. 
Originated in the cellar and extended to the first, second, third, fourth, 
and fifth floors by light-shaft and stairway. Mrs. Mary Southerly, aged 
40 years, Frank Southerly, aged 9 years, and James Southerly, aged 4 
years, were burned to death on the fifth floor, front, before the arrival of 
the Department forces, and Mary Southerly, aged 13 years, was slightly 
burned about the hands and legs ; was removed in ambulance to Presbyte- 
rian Hospital. Charles H. Southerly, Fireman Martin H. O'Leary, 
Charles S. McCarthy and Michael Dean, of Engine Company No. 22, were 
overcome by gas while working in the cellar, and were removed in an 
ambulance to the Presbyterian Hospital. Fireman Charles McCarthy, of 
Engine Company No. 22, rescued two children from the fifth floor fire- 



272 TENEMENT HOUSE FIRES IN NEW YORK 

escape and assisted in the rescue of a Mrs. Goodwin from the fifth floor, 
and members of Hook and Ladder Company No. 13 assisted several per- 
sons down the fire-escape and ladders. Fireman Patrick H. McCartie of 
Hook and Ladder Company No. 13 rescued a Mrs. Gordon from the fifth 
floor by fire-escape and a 35-foot ladder. 

(Signed) JOSEPH P. BYRNE, Chief of 10th Battalion. 

February 26 349 West 84th Street 

Nine-story, fireproof apartment house. The fire originated in the dumb- 
waiter shaft and extended through the same to the ninth floor. The fire 
was confined to the shaft. Duration of the fire was 10 minutes. 

March 16 208 East io8th Street 

Fire occurred at 3.37 o'clock P.M. Originated on the first floor and 
extended to the roof through light shaft and stairway. Building occupied 
as a tenement house with four families on each floor. Sent ambulance call 
for the purpose of removing Mary Bechman, aged 64 years, to hospital. 
She was found in the hallway of the building on the third floor, her cloth- 
ing on fire. She was severely burned all over the body and was removed 
to the Harlem Hospital. 

(Signed) JOHN J. CASHMAN, Chief of 12th Battalion. 

March 17 23 and 25 Jefferson Street 

Fire occurred at 8.23 o'clock A.M. Started on the first floor and ex- 
tended through the second, third, fourth, and to the sixth floor. Cause 
unknown. Twenty families in the building. Members of Hook and 
Ladder Company No. 6 assisted several persons on fire-escapes to 
escape by ladder. 

(Signed) JAMES C. BROGAN, Chief of 4th Battalion. 

April 3 130 and 130^ Essex Street 

Fire occurred at 5.03 A.M. As far as could be ascertained, the fire was 
caused by explosion of oil, gas, or alcohol ; this from statement of pro- 
prietor of liquor store, Leon Singer, who would not or could not state defi- 
nitely which was the cause. He was severely burned about the hands, 
feet, and head and was taken to Gouverneur Hospital in ambulance. 
While working in the cellar of building, Fireman Joseph Williams, of 
Engine Company No. 17, was overcome by gas and smoke, and was re- 
vived by Dr. Fleischmann and removed to engine quarters of No. 17 in 
hose wagon, he refusing to go to a hospital. The fire was not confined 
to the point of starting by reason of its spread before the arrival of the 
Department apparatus. 

April 25 74 and 76 Forsyth Street 

Fire occurred at 3.22 o'clock A.M. (in the night). Cause of the fire 
could not be ascertained. Fire was not confined to point of starting for 
the reason of its having spread before the arrival of apparatus of this 
Department. Twenty-two families in No. 74 Forsyth Street, and 18 fami- 
lies in No. 76 Forsyth Street. On arrival at fire I found the entire line of 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRES IN NEW YORK 273 

stairway burned away from the first floor to the roof and the fire spreading 
out in all directions on every floor. All the occupants were assisted down 
front and rear fire-escapes by members of Hook and Ladder Company No. 
69 and police in the vicinity, except Annie Lescrowitz, aged 13 years, 
burned to death. Amelia Lescrowitz, aged 11 years, John Lescrowitz, 
aged 6 years, were all burned to death. The injured are as follows: 
Samuel Lescrowitz, aged 38 years, burned about face and neck not dan- 
gerous. Michael Eeshbaum, aged 63 years, burned on right hand and face. 
Beron Past, aged 12 years, burned on hands and face, not seriously 
treated by Dr. Watson and removed by him to Gouverneur Hospital in 
ambulance. The following Engine Companies were at this fire : Nos. 17, 
9, 55, 20, 15, and 12 ; also Hook and Ladder Companies Nos. 6, 9, and 18. 
Duration of fire was two hours. Firemen were on duty 7 hours and 8 
minutes. (Signed) WILLIAM GUERIN, Chief of 4th Battalion. 

May 8 391 Madison Street 

Fire occurred at 4.17 o'clock A.M. (in the night). Cause of fire un- 
known. Fire originated on the second floor and extended to the third, 
fourth, fifth, and to the roof. The fire was not confined to the point of 
starting for the reason of its having spread before the arrival of the ap- 
paratus of the Department. Nine families in the building. Occupants 
assisted to street from fire-escapes by Hook and Ladder Companies 11 and 
18 and policemen on duty in the vicinity of the fire. On my arrival I 
found that the fire had full possession of the stairway from the second 
floor to the roof. The fire was confined chiefly to the stairway, except on 
the fifth floor, where the fire spread before the arrival of Department 
apparatus. Duration of the fire was one hour. 

(Signed) WILLIAM GUERIN, Chief of 4th Battalion. 

May 22 1901 Park Avenue 

Fire started at 4.40 o'clock P.M. Originated in the cellar wood-bins 
and extended to the first and second floors by the halls. Cause unknown. 
Mrs. Lawrence, aged 57 years, was taken from the third floor by members 
of Hook and Ladder Company No. 13, down a 35-foot ladder. They also 
assisted a number of the tenants down the rear fire-escape. Mrs. Edward 
McShane, aged 35 years, and her son Edward, aged 4, died from inhaling 
hot air and smoke; the mother lived about five minutes after being 
carried out. They were found on the top floor in the hallway. Eight 
families to the building two on each floor above the first. 

(Signed) JAMES J. MCCARTNEY, Chief of 10th Battalion. 

June 1 6 352 East i9th Street 

Fire started at 10.21 o'clock P.M. (in the night). Cause of fire unknown. 
Upon arrival found fire in possession of south rooms on the fourth floor, 
and while at work on the fourth floor, Fireman Magher, of Hook and 
Ladder Company No. 3, found Mrs. Annie Cannon, 35 years old, overcome 
by smoke and unconscious. She was found in the kitchen of rear room 
and was taken to the street by stairway by members of Hook and Ladder 
Company No. 3. Sent ambulance call, which was responded to by ambu- 
lance from Bellevue Hospital, where she was taken for treatment. Dura- 
tion of fire, 4 minutes. 
VOL. i T 



274 TENEMENT HOUSE FIRES IN NEW YORK 

June 4 217 Delancey Street 

Fire started at 3.52 o'clock P.M. Started on the first floor and extended 
through the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth floors. Cause unknown. 
Also extended to the neighboring building, 44 Pitt Street, and did consid- 
erable damage. Fire was not confined to the point of starting for reason 
that it had spread before the arrival of the apparatus of the Department. 
Eighteen families in 217 Delancey Street ; 18 families in 44 Pitt Street. 
Duration of fire, 1 hour. 

(Signed) WILLIAM GUERIN, Chief of 4th Battalion. 

June 15 34 Jackson Street 

Fire started at 2.30 o'clock A.M. (in the night). Originated on the 
second floor and extended to the first, third, fourth, and fifth floors. Cause 
of fire was unknown. The fire was not confined to the point of starting 
for the reason that it had spread before the arrival of the apparatus of the 
Department. There were eight families in the building. On my arrival 
at the fire I found the fire in possession of the stairway from the main hall 
on the first floor to the bulkhead on the roof, and spreading from the halls 
to the apartments. The following named is a list of the dead from asphyxi- 
ation and burns, whose bodies were taken to the Delancey Street Station 
House : Mary Marion, aged 35 years ; Joseph Marion, aged 40 years ; 
Elizabeth Marion, aged 7 years ; Ella Marion, aged 6 years ; Elsie Marion, 
aged 4 years; Anthony Marion, aged 1 year; William Carter, aged 40 
years ; Joseph Carter, aged 12 years ; 1 unidentified woman supposed to 
be Mrs. William Carter, aged 38 ; and Kate Carter, aged 15 years. The 
following are the list of the injured at Gouverneur Hospital : Mary Marion, 
aged 18 years, asphyxiation and shock may recover; Margaret Marion, as- 
phyxiation and shock ; Frank Marion, aged 12 years, asphyxiation and shock, 
also burned on body ; baby (male), Carter family, 1 year old, shock ; Pat- 
rick Byrnes, aged 23 years, burns, shock, asphyxiation, and injured in- 
ternally ; may die. Duration of fire, 1 hour and 15 minutes. On duty 2 
hours and 15 minutes. The following engine companies were present : 
Engine Company Nos. 15, 11, and 17, and Hook and Ladder Company Nos. 
16 and 18. (Signed) WILLIAM GUERIN, Chief of 4th Battalion. 

June 1 5th 26 Rutgers Street 

Fire originated at 8.45 o'clock P.M. Started on the first floor and 
extended to the second, third, and fourth floors. Damage slight. Cause 
of fire not ascertained. The fire was not confined to the point of starting 
for the reason it had spread before the arrival of the apparatus of the 
Department. Eighteen families in the building. The body of a woman, 
supposed to be Mrs. Rutkoff, aged about 35 years, was found on the 
stairs leading from the hall of the first floor to the west area ; she had been 
burned to death. The body was turned over to the police on duty at the 
fire. The following is a list of the injured who were removed to the Gouv- 
erneur Hospital : Ella Hart, aged 14 years, sprained arm ; Joseph Jacob- 
son, 2 years old, overcome with smoke ; Ida Yellin, aged 17 years, sprained 
foot ; Joseph Yellin, aged 35 years, broken leg ; Dora Aaronson, aged 22 
years, sprained foot ; Meyer Kahn, aged 37 years, severely burned, face, 
body, and hands. Duration of fire, 30 minutes. On duty, 1 hour and 15 
minutes. (Signed) WILLIAM GUERIN, Chief of 4th Battalion. 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRE-ESCAPES IN 
NEW YORK AND BROOKLYN 

BY HUGH BONNER AND LAWRENCE VEILLEB 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRE-ESCAPES 



THE law since 1862 has required that all tenement houses, includ- 
ing those already built as well as those erected thereafter, should be 
provided with adequate fire-escapes. It would seem that, in this 
period of thirty-eight years, the proper officials should have been 
able to see to it that all the tenement houses erected prior to 1862 
were equipped with adequate fire-escapes, and certainly that no new 
tenement houses should have been erected since that time not so 
supplied ; and yet there are thousands of such buildings in this city 
to-day with totally inadequate means of escape in case of fire. 

As there are over 80,000 tenement houses in the city, it has 
been impossible to examine all of the tenement houses to ascertain 
whether they are properly equipped with fire-escapes or not. Con- 
sequently our investigation has, of necessity, been limited to certain 
sections of the city. In Manhattan the entire seventeenth ward, 
extending from Rivington Street to Fourteenth Street, and from 
Third Avenue to Avenue B, has been examined. The method of 
such examination was as follows : Each block was taken up in detail, 
and wherever the inspector found a tenement house without fire- 
escapes on the front, he made an examination of the building. No 
other buildings were inspected. In this ward 920 houses were 
examined. Two hundred and eighteen of these buildings were found 
to be what is known as "furnished room " houses, 21 were apparently 
houses of prostitution, and 28 houses contained either 2 families or 
1 family each, and therefore were not strictly within the purposes of 
this investigation ; that is, out of a total of 2877 tenement houses in 
the ward (according to the last tenement house census of the Board 
of Health), 653 tenement houses, or 23 per cent of the entire num- 
ber, had no fire-escapes on the front. 

Ninety-eight tenement houses, or 15 per cent of those examined, 
had no fire-escapes whatsoever, notwithstanding the fact that every 
one of these buildings was occupied by 3 families or more, and there- 
fore under the law should have been provided with such fire-escapes. 
Sixty-seven of these buildings contained as many as 3 families 
each, 19 contained 4 families each, 4 contained 5 families each, 
4 contained 6 families each, 2 contained 8 families each, 1 con- 

277 



278 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRE-ESCAPES 



tained 9 families, and another contained 10 families, making a total 
of 356 families in this small district without any means of escape. 
Assuming that the average number in a family is 5, it appears that 
there were practically in this limited area 1780, or nearly 2000, persons 
without means of escape in case of fire. 



NEW YORK SEVENTEENTH WARD 
BUILDINGS WITHOUT ANY FIRE-ESCAPES AT ALL 

Total buildings inspected 

Furnished room houses (containing 8-20 rooms) 
Houses of prostitution ...... 

Houses with less than three families .... 



TENEMENT HOUSES 

Number of families on a floor : 

One family 

Two families 

Three families 

Miscellaneous 

(Varying from one on some floors to two and even three) 

Number of families in building : 



264 

125 

14 

27 



84 
8 
1 
5 



Three in building 
Four in building 
Five in building . 
Six in building . 
Eight in building 
Nine in building . 
Ten in building . 


















67 
19 
4 
4 
2 
1 
1 



Number of stories in height : 



Two stories 

Two stories and basement 

Three stories 

Three stories and basement 

Four stories 

Four stories and basement 

Five stories 











. 


f 
18 
55 










/ 


10 
9 
3 



Of the remaining 555 tenement houses examined, none had any 
fire-escapes on the front of the building, although provided with 
balconies upon the rear ; and this, notwithstanding the fact that 350 
of these houses had 2 families on each floor, 3 of the buildings had 
3 families on each floor, and 8 had 4 families on each floor, while 
32 buildings contained from 2 to 3 and 4 families upon each floor, 
and in some cases even 6 and 7. In the buildings where there were 
more than 2 families on a floor and no fire-escapes on the front, it is 
perfectly apparent that a number of families in each case had abso- 
lutely no chance of escape in case of fire. 




THE WRONG KIND OF TENEMENT HOUSE FIRE-ESCAPE VERTICAL LADDERS. 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRE-ESCAPES 279 

NEW YORK SEVENTEENTH WARD 
BUILDINGS WITH NO FIRE-ESCAPES ON THE FKONT 

Total buildings inspected 656 

Furnished room houses (containing 8-20 rooms) .... 93 

Houses of prostitution 7 

Houses with less than three families . , * . . 1 



TENEMENT HOUSES V . '. . . 555 

Number of families on a floor : 

One family . . f ~ v *. . . . . 162 

Two families . , . . '...*. 350 

Three families . . ,' * 3 

Four families . . 8 

Miscellaneous . .... . . . . .32 

(Varying from one on some floors to two, three, and four in 
most cases, and even six and seven in some cases) 

Number of families in building : 

Three in building . . . . . . , ,* . . 41 

Four in building . . . . . . . , 115 

Five in building . . V V 11 

Six in building . ... ... ... 42 

Seven in building . . . .. . .... 1 

Eight in building .* 141 

Nine in building .- * . . .10 

Ten in building . . . ..;..-.. 154 

Eleven in building . . . . . . ' . . . 1 

Twelve in building * . . . , , . . . 12 

Thirteen in building . ? . . . , . . '' i . 2 

Fourteen in building . i . ... . . . 1 

Fifteen in building . .... * . . . 8 

Sixteen in building ... 6 

Twenty in building . . . . ... . . 4 

Twenty-four in building * - . ' - . . . . . 4 

Twenty-eight in building . . . . ... . 1 

Thirty-five in building . . . . ". . .'.'. 1 

The following table shows in detail the number of houses exam- 
ined which had no fire-escapes upon the front. It also shows the 
number of such houses containing 3 families in each house, the num- 
ber containing 4, 5, and 6 families, and so on up to 35 families, as 
well as the number of tenement houses in which the floors of the fire- 
escape balconies were made of wooden slats ; also the number of 
tenements in which the balconies were connected by vertical ladders 
instead of stairs with a hand-rail ; the number where fire-escape 
balconies were very badly encumbered with household goods, the 
number of cases where these balconies were partly encumbered, and 
the number where they were slightly encumbered, as well as the 
number of houses in which the openings of the balconies, through 
which persons must descend in case of fire, were closed or covered 
over so that egress from the building in case of fire would have been 
more than difficult, if not impossible. 



280 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRE-ESCAPES 



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TENEMENT HOUSE FIRE-ESCAPES 281 

From examination of this table it appears that in these 555 tene- 
ment houses accommodating 4305 families or 21,525 persons, none of 
the houses had any fire-escapes on the front. In 198 houses, or 36 
per cent, the floors of the fire-escape balconies were of wood, so that 
in case a fire broke out at the rear, these balconies would be practi- 
cally useless, as the wooden slats would immediately burn away, 
leaving simply a hole. That only 90 of these buildings, or 16 per 
cent, were provided with stairs connecting the different balconies, 
393 of the buildings, or 71 per cent, being furnished simply with 
vertical ladders. When it is borne in mind that in the experience 
of the Fire Department vertical ladders are seldom used by women 
or children, and that in nearly every case where such ladders are 
provided on buildings of this kind, the firemen have to rescue the 
tenants and carry them down from the different balconies, the sig- 
nificance of this state of affairs begins to be realized. 

The following quotations from the reports of different fire chiefs 
in reference to a number of tenement house fires occurring within 
the present year emphasize this fact : 

Report of Chief of 10th Battalion, Joseph P. Byrnes, on fire 
occurring at 305 East 92d Street on January 6, 1900 : " Fire started 
at 12.09 A.M., originated in the cellar and extended to the first, 
second, third, fourth, and fifth stories by the light shaft and stairway. 
. . . Fireman Charles McCarthy, of Engine Company No. 22, res- 
cued 2 children from the fifth floor from fire-escapes, and assisted in 
the rescue of a Mrs. Goodwin from the fifth floor, and members of 
Hook and Ladder Company No. 13 assisted several persons down 
the fire-escape and ladders. Fireman Patrick H. McCartie, of Hook 
and Ladder Company No. 13, rescued a Mrs. Gordon from the fifth 
floor from fire-escape by a 35-foot ladder." 

Report of Acting Chief James C. Brogan on fire occurring at 23 
and 25 Jefferson street on March 17, 1900: "Fire occurred at 8.23 
o'clock A.M., started on the first floor and extended through the 
second, third, fourth, and fifth cause unknown ; 20 families in 
building. Members of Hook and Ladder Company No. 6 assisted 
several persons on fire-escapes to escape by ladder." 

Report of Chief of Battalion William Guerin on fire occurring at 
74 and 76 Forsyth Street on April 25, 1900 : " Fire occurred at 3.22 
o'clock A.M. cause of fire could not be ascertained, ... On 
arrival at fire I found the entire line of stairway burned away from 
the first floor to the roof, and the fire spreading out in all directions 
on every floor all the occupants were assisted down front and rear 
fire-escapes by members of Hook and Ladder Company No. 69 and 
police in the vicinity, except 3 children who were all burned to 
death." 



282 TEXEMEXT HOUSE FIRE-ESCAPES 

Report of Chief of Battalion William Guerin on fire occurring at 
391 Madison Street on May 8, 1900 : "Fire occurred at 4.17 o'clock 
A.M. Cause of fire unknown. . . . Occupants assisted to street 
from fire-escapes by Hook and Ladder Companies No. 11 and No. 18, 
and policemen on duty in the vicinity of the fire." 

Report of Chief of Battalion James J. McCartney on fire occur- 
ring at 1091 Park Avenue on May 22 : " Fire started at 4.40 o'clock 
P.M. . . . Mrs. Lawrence, aged 57 years, was taken from the third 
floor by members of Hook and Ladder Company No. 13 down a 
35-foot ladder they also assisted a number of tenants down the 
rear fire-escapes." 

In the 555 tenement houses, above mentioned, in 290 houses, or 
53 per cent, the fire-escape balconies were very badly encumbered, 
and in 185 houses, or 34 per cent, they were partly encumbered, 
while in only 74 cases, or 13 per cent, had they any semblance of 
being kept clear. In addition, it was found that in 198 buildings, 
or 36 per cent, the openings through which the ladders or stairs 
passed, and through which the tenants and firemen must descend, 
were closed over with boards or other heavy obstructions. 

BROOKLYN 

In Brooklyn, that portion of the seventeenth ward in what is 
known as Greenpoint and vicinity was inspected. It was not pos- 
sible within the time at our disposal to examine the entire ward. 
Eight hundred and six houses, however, were examined. The sys- 
tem employed in Brooklyn was not the same as that employed in 
New York. In New York only those houses which had no fire- 
escapes on the front were examined. In Brooklyn, however, each 
residence building in a certain neighborhood was inspected. 

Out of these 806 buildings it was found that there were 9 
which were " furnished room " houses, or used as hotels in part, and 
136 buildings containing less than 3 families, and, therefore, not 
within the purposes of this investigation. 

Of the 661 tenement houses examined it was found that 283 were 
without fire-escapes of any kind whatsoever; notwithstanding the 
fact that 242 of these were wooden buildings where the chance for 
escape in case of fire is almost nothing. Of these 242 wooden tene- 
ment houses 199 contained 3 families each ; 25 houses contained 
4 families each, 17 contained 6 families each, and 1 house con- 
tained as many as 8 families, making a total of 807 families, or 
4035 persons, living in wooden tenement houses without any fire- 
escapes of any kind. 

The remainder of the 283 buildings without any fire-escapes, 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRE-ESCAPES 283 

viz. 41 houses, were of brick. Twenty-one of these houses con- 
tained 3 families each, 6 contained 4 families each, 12 contained 
6 families each, 1 contained 8 families, and 1 contained 9 families, 
making a total of 176 families, or 880 persons, living in brick tene- 
ment houses without any means of escape whatsoever. That is, in 
these 283 tenement houses, there were living 983 families, or 4915 
persons nearly 5000 without any means of escape, and this not- 
withstanding the fact that each one of these buildings contained as 
many as 3 families, and therefore was required by law to be provided 
with good and sufficient fire-escapes. 

BROOKLYN (PART OP SEVENTEENTH WARD) 
BUILDINGS WITHOUT ANY FIRE-ESCAPES AT ALL 

Total buildings inspected 422 

44 Furnished room " houses, hotels, etc 6 

Houses with less than three families 133 



Wood. Brick. Total. 
TENEMENT HOUSES ' . . . . ,. . . 242 41 283 

No. of families on a floor : 

One family . . . ... . . 207 27 234 

Two families . V , . .... . . 27 13 40 

Three families 1 1 

Miscellaneous. . . . . ; . ..80 8 

No. of families in building : 

Three in building . .;- .-.- . . . . 199 21 220 

Four in building ....... 25 6 31 

Six in building . . . ... . 17 12 29 

Eight in building . '-. . :;\- . ^, * 112 

Nine in building ."."... 1 1 

So much for the tenement houses without any fire-escapes. Of 
the remaining 378 tenement houses inspected, which were provided 
with fire-escapes, it was found that 273 of these buildings were of 
wood and 105 of brick, and that out of the 273 wooden buildings 
26 houses contained 3 families each, 2 houses contained 4 families 
each, 203 contained 6 families each, 38 houses contained 8 families 
each, 1 house contained 9 families, 1 house contained 10 families, and 
2 contained 16 families each. Of the 105 brick tenement houses, 
6 buildings contained 3 families each, 10 contained 4 families each, 
37 contained 6 families each, 50 contained 8 families each, 1 con- 
tained 12 families, and another contained 16 families. 



BROOKLYN (PART OP SEVENTEENTH WARD) 
BUILDINGS WITH FIRE-ESCAPES 

Total buildings inspected ,,..-. . . . 384 

* 'Furnished room" houses, etc. . . . , . 

Houses with less than three families 3 



284 TENEMENT HOUSE FIRE-ESCAPES 

Wood. Brick. Total. 
TENEMENT HOUSES 273 105 378 

No. of families on a floor : 

One family 25 15 40 

Two families 243 87 330 

Three families 1 1 2 

Four families 2 1 3 

Miscellaneous 2 1 3 

No. of families in building : 

Three in building 26 6 32 

Four in building 2 10 12 

Six in building . . . . . . . 203 37 240 

Eight in building ....... 38 50 88 

Nine in building ....... 1 1 

Ten in building 1 1 

Twelve in building . 1 1 

Sixteen in building 2 1 3 

It was found that out of 378 houses provided with fire-escapes 
only 15, or 4 per cent, had balconies on the fronts of the houses ; 
that 266 buildings, or 70 per cent, had balconies on the rear ; and 
that 91 houses had no fire-escape balconies at all, but were provided 
with a very peculiar system of ostensible fire-escapes, consisting of a 
vertical ladder suspended in mid-air in front of the building at each 
story by two iron brackets. This ladder was generally found to be 
held off from the front of the building at a distance of about 2 feet 
6 inches. These brackets were not provided with any platform or 
balcony, but were simply two thin pieces of iron, about 3 feet apart, 
holding out the ladder. In some cases the tenants had placed boards 
across the brackets and put flower pots and boxes upon the boards. 
It is hardly necessary to point out that this arrangement could not, 
by the furthest stretch of the imagination, be considered a fire- 
escape. Of the tenement houses with fire-escapes, 91 houses, or 
24 per cent, were found to be provided with these ladders, so that 
practically this number should be added to the buildings previously 
mentioned as being without any fire-escape whatsoever. 

Of the 281 houses provided with some kind of balconies, it was 
found that in only 33 houses, or 12 per cent, were these balconies 
connected by stairs, and that in 244 houses, or 87 per cent, they 
were connected simply by vertical ladders. In 105 houses, or 37 per 
cent, the fire-escape balconies were found to be badly encumbered 
with household goods, that is, over one-half of the balconies were so 
encumbered. In 81 cases, or 29 per cent, the balconies were but 
partly encumbered, while in 95 cases, or 34 per cent, the balconies 
were found to be almost clear. In 149 cases, or 53 per cent, the 
floors of the balconies were found to be made entirely of wood, which 
in case of fire would be practically useless, as they would immedi- 
ately burn away, leaving simply a hole. This condition of affairs in 




BROOKLYN'S PECULIAR SYSTEM OF FIRE-ESCAPES. A LADDER No BALCONIES. 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRE-ESCAPES 



285 



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286 TENEMENT HOUSE FIRE-ESCAPES 

a very small part of the Borough of Brooklyn is a most serious one, 
especially when it is remembered how large a number of these houses 
are made of wood, and that in a wooden tenement house, occupied 
by three families or more, the chance for escape, if a fire occurs, is the 
very slightest. 

We would call attention to a recent fire in a wooden tenement 
house in Hester Street, occurring on October 17, in which eight 
persons were burned to death. It appears, according to the New 
York Times of October 18, that " one woman was roasted to death 
on the landing of a fire-escape, because the fire-escape stopped at the 
second floor, and there was no ladder to be let down from that point, 
as the law required." If a serious fire should occur in any one of 
the buildings included in the above inspection, it is not only possible, 
but very probable, that similar catastrophes would occur. 

We would also call attention to the fact that outside of the 
seventeenth ward, all through this city, and especially on First 
Avenue, Second Avenue, Third Avenue, Sixth Avenue, Eighth 
Avenue, and on hundreds of the cross streets in Harlem, there are 
thousands of the better class of flat buildings without any fire-escapes 
on the front. While these buildings bring in higher rentals and are 
occupied generally by fewer families than in the more congested 
portions of the city, the buildings themselves are in the main con- 
structed in as poor a manner as the cheap tenement houses, notwith- 
standing their showy and expensive fronts; and the dangers from 
fire in these buildings are quite as great as in any of the worst 
tenement houses. 

We believe that every tenement house in this city which is not 
fireproof throughout should have fire-escapes, both on the front and 
on the rear of the building, and if fire-escapes are to be omitted any- 
where, they had much better be omitted on the rear than on the front, 
for there they are essential. The purpose of a fire-escape is quite as 
much to enable the firemen to reach the tenants and the fire, as it is 
to allow the tenants to leave the building. Where there are no fire- 
escapes on the front of the buildings the work of the firemen is 
greatly retarded ; again, where there are fire-escapes only in the rear 
it is quite possible and generally probable that the fire may occur in 
that part of the building, and that therefore ^escape from the rear 
will be cut off, and the tenants will perish. As a rule the kitchens 
of such apartments are in the rear of the building, and it is in the 
kitchens that most of the fires start. 

The report of Fire Chief John Welsh on a tenement house fire 
occurring at 754 First Avenue on January 2 illustrates just what 
occurs in cases where there are fire-escapes only on the rear of the 
building. We quote from his report : "Fire occurred at 1.11 A.M. 




THE PROPER KIND OF TENEMENT HOUSE FIRE-ESCAPE STAIRS. 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRE-ESCAPES 287 

(in the night). Found that all the occupa j from the second floor 
up were cut off from means of escape on a ,ount of flames on stairway 
and rear fire-escape, the flames' being driven by a strong north- 
west wind at that time which enveloped the whole fire-escape on the 
rear of the building; ordere ' ird alarm and jumping-out nets. 
Firemen were at this fire 5 ho rs and 30 minutes. During its prog- 
ress, so far as ascertained, there were thirty-five persons rescued 
from the different floors by the officers and men of the department 
with 35- and 85-foot extension and scaling ladders, jumping-nets, and 
other appliances for life saving. Lorretto Leonard, aged 6 years, 
was suffocated by heat and smoke on the fifth floor." 

There is no reason why fire-escapes should be omitted on the 
front of such buildings, except the pride of the architect and the 
owner, who dislike seeing cheap iron balconies upon the front of their 
buildings. If these balconies offend their artistic sensibilities, they 
have two remedies : one, to make the balconies artistic ; the other, 
to build their buildings fireproof. We believe that the protection of 
human life is of much greater import ince than anything else. 

We believe also that on all tenement house fire-escapes stairs 
with flat steps and hand-rails are absolutely essential, and that in no 
case should vertical ladders be permitted. We find that the printed 
regulations of the Building Department require such stairs with 
hand-rails to be provided upon tenement houses, but that it has been 
customary in the department for some years to grant modifications 
of this requirement by permitting vertical ladders to be erected in 
place of stairs, upon application so to do by the person erecting such 
fire-escapes. 

In this connection we would call attention to a curious anomaly 
in reference to the requirements of the Building Department regard- 
ing the construction of fire-escapes, and that is this : The depart- 
ment requires that on Bowery lodging houses, accommodating 
anywhere from 30 to 80 homeless men, the fire-escapes must consist 
of stairs with hand-rails ; yet in tenement houses containing from 100 
to 150 men, women, and children, vertical ladders are permitted. It 
is hard to understand why the lives of homeless men are of more 
value than the lives of women and children, nor can we understand 
how women and children are able to use an unsteady vertical ladder 
where strong men are unable to do so. We desire to call attention 
to the fact that the fire-escape balconies erected on most tenement 
houses are entirely too narrow, being about 2 feet 6 inches in width. 
We find that the printed regulations of the Building Department 
require such balconies to be 3 feet wide, but that it has been custom- 
ary for some time to grant modifications of this requirement, per- 
mitting the balconies to be only 2 feet 6 inches wide. We would 



288 TENEMENT HOUSE FIRE-ESCAPES 

also call attention to an evil even more serious than any of the pre- 
ceding ones, and that is the present practice, instead of .putting fire- 
escapes on the front of the building, of placing small iron gratings 
in the air shafts between tenement houses, leading from the window 
of one building to the window of an adjoining building, these win- 
dows being only about 6 inches apart. The object of such a form of 
construction is to save money ; such escapes are worse than useless. 
One-fourth of all the tenement house fires spread through the air 
shafts, and a fire occurring in the kitchen of one of these apartments 
would immediately leap to the windows of the adjoining house 6 
inches away ; moreover, such an escape in the small air shaft obstructs 
light and air, destroys privacy by allowing communication between 
house and house, lays the occupants of tenement houses open to the 
constant depredation of thieves, and in every way is detrimental to 
the buildings. As an example of this kind of escape that has 
recently been erected we would call attention to a building opposite 
the new Hamilton Fish Park in Sheriff Street. 

The encumbrance of fire-escape balconies with boxes, barrels, 
plants, refrigerators, and general household utensils is one of the 
questions that the Commission has had to deal with. It is the testi- 
mony of the Fire Department that the work of the firemen in rescu- 
ing tenants is often impeded by such encumbrances. The law for a 
number of years has provided that fire-escapes should not in any way 
be encumbered, and has provided a fine of f 10 upon the tenant or 
occupant of the apartment for each offence. The responsibility for 
the enforcement of this law, however, has been divided between three 
different departments the Building Department, the Fire Depart- 
ment, and the Police Department, the law until 1898 requiring that 
whenever any fireman or policeman or any building inspector should 
find a fire-escape balcony encumbered it was his duty to apply to the 
nearest police magistrate for a warrant for the arrest of the occupant 
of the apartment, and upon conviction the occupant was to be fined 
$10 or imprisonment for ten days, in the discretion of the court. 
The duties of the police do not take them ordinarily into tenement 
houses or into tenement house yards, and they have no occasion, 
therefore, to note the encumbrance of balconies on the rear of such 
buildings. As in very few cases the balconies on the fronts of tene- 
ments are encumbered, being open to public observation, there is 
little likelihood, therefore, of policemen finding, in the course of 
their ordinary duties, any violations of this law. The duty of the 
Fire Department is to extinguish fires, and the department consists 
of men trained and disciplined for this purpose ; it is obvious that 
they have no force available for the purpose of inspecting fire-escapes 
to see whether they are encumbered or not, nor is it advisable that 




ENCUMBERED FIRE-BSCAPE BALCONIES. 



TENEMENT HOUSE FIRE-ESCAPES 289 

men who are trained to fight fires should spend their time in the 
work of ordinary inspection. The duties of the building inspectors 
do not take them as a rule into old tenement houses, but only into 
new buildings ; it is apparent, therefore, that this department has 
no force to make such inspections. The result is that, the responsi- 
bility for the enforcement of this law being divided among depart- 
ments charged with quite different duties, the law is not enforced. 
Again, where arrests have been made for the encumbrance of fire- 
escape balconies, it has been found that the police magistrates are 
very loath to fine or imprison a poor person for such an offence, 
especially if the poor person is a foreigner not used to our ways of 
living and often totally unfamiliar with the law ; so that for these 
two reasons it appears that the law in reference to encumbrance of 
fire-escapes is practically of slight value. 

These are the results of an examination made simply in one 
ward of the city, and that in a somewhat crowded district where 
greater attention is paid to the need of fire-escapes by the authorities 
than in other parts of the city. 

From a study of these facts, shown by this inspection, we cannot 
escape the conclusion that the enforcement of the fire-escape law in 
this city is of the most lax and inefficient kind. 



VOL. I U 



BACK TO BACK TENEMENTS 

BY LAWBENCE VEILLEE 



BACK TO BACK TENEMENTS 



THE rear tenement house has been the subject probably of more 
abuse and condemnation than any other type of building that has 
ever been constructed. Much of this has been deserved and much 
of it undeserved. There have been in New York City many rear 
tenement houses that were unfit for human habitation, and there are 
still a considerable number of such houses to be found in this city 
to-day. On the other hand, there are many rear tenements which 
are far more sanitary and much more pleasant to live in than the 
ordinary double-decker tenement house. 

No one knows just when the first tenement house was built in 
this city, nor when the first rear tenement house was erected. The 
popular belief is that the rear tenement is a building added on the 
rear of a lot behind a tenement or dwelling house already erected on 
the front. This is not the case. The contrary is what has happened. 
The rear building was on the lot first, and the front building has in 
nearly every case been built afterward. Investigations made show 
this conclusively. The original insurance maps of the city issued in 
1852 show a great number of such houses located at the very back of 
the lot, with the whole front of the lot left entirely vacant, indicating 
clearly that it was customary at that time to erect dwellings at the 
rear of the lot, leaving the entire space at the front as a yard or 
garden. Further internal evidence is to be found in the first Tene- 
ment House Law. This law was enacted in 1867, and it is to be 
noted that it prohibits the erection of a building on the front of any 
rot where there is already a building on the rear of the same lot. 
Had it been the custom at that time to erect the rear building after 
the front one, the law would have been expressed in exactly the 
opposite way. 

As previously stated, the rear tenement house may be good or bad. 
It is bad when the front and rear buildings are too close together, 
or when the rear building is located so far back on the lot as to have 
insufficient space behind it, and between it and another building 
situated on the rear of another lot. The rear tenement house is 
good when there is an open space of from 20 to 25 feet between it 
and the front building, and when there is a yard back of it of about 



294 BACK TO BACK TENEMENTS 

10 or 15 feet. One reason why the rear tenement house has been so 
much condemned is because of the fact that the death-rate in these 
buildings has always been very high, and the public has assumed, 
therefore, that the type of building was a bad type. 

Any one familiar with the subject of vital statistics knows that 
the death-rate alone is not a criterion of the sanitary condition of a 
building, because so many other elements enter into this subject. 
In certain blocks in the fourth ward, for instance, the death-rate is 
very much higher than the general death-rate of the city, and in one 
or two cases twice as great. About half a mile away, in the Jewish 
quarter in the tenth ward, the death-rate is only half as great as 
the general death-rate of the city. Both of these blocks are in dis- 
tinctively tenement house districts. In the first case, where the 
death-rate is three or four times as great as in the second case, the 
tenement houses are not so high, are more sanitary, and are less over- 
crowded than in the second case. The explanation of this apparent 
anomaly lies in the fact that in the first case the people inhabiting 
the block are Italians, a race among which the death-rate is generally 
high because of the fact that they are unable to adapt their diet to 
our climate. They try to live upon a kind of food adequate for the 
South of Italy, but which is totally inadequate for New York. They 
are employed to a large extent in work of excavation, digging in 
trenches, and are therefore especially a prey to pneumonia, tuber- 
culosis, and similar diseases. 

In the case of the second block, the population is almost entirely 
Jewish. The explanation, therefore, is to be found in the fact that 
race characteristics, the kind of occupation of the individual, and 
other elements, play as important a part in death-rates as the condi- 
tion of the houses in which the people dwell. If this is true in the 
case mentioned, how illogical is it then to condemn the rear tenement 
house because of the fact that the death-rate in some of these build- 
ings has been very high. Looking at this subject scientifically, one 
finds that the explanation of the high death-rate in the rear tene- 
ment lies in the fact that these houses are the oldest tenement houses 
in the city ; that being the oldest buildings the rents are the lowest, 
and, therefore, such buildings are inhabited by the very poorest of 
the population, who, because of their poverty and generally underfed 
condition, are especially liable to sickness. In addition, in nearly 
every case the privy accommodations for such buildings are in the 
yard in a "school sink," which is a long trough sunk into the ground, 
connected with the street sewer, and supposed to be flushed out at 
frequent intervals. These, however, are seldom flushed, and the 
stench from them in the summer time is intolerable. It is not 
surprising, therefore, that, in view of these conditions, the death-rate 



BACK TO BACK TENEMENTS 295 

in such buildings should be high. Is it fair, therefore, to attribute 
this high death-rate to the fact that one building is behind another 
instead of at one side of it ? 

An advantage of the rear tenement is that it removes to a large 
extent social friction. It divides the tenement house practically into 
two parts, and thus results in having on each floor, instead of four 
families as in the ordinary double-decker, only two families. It is 
obvious that life under such conditions is much easier than under 
the other. 

On the other hand, it is thought by a number of people that the 
rear tenement in itself has great disadvantages because of the fact 
that one building is located behind another building away from the 
street, and therefore hidden from the public eye, and that conse- 
quently the passageways leading to these tenements and the courts 
between the front and the rear buildings may become places favorable 
to the fostering of vice and crime. 

In considering the relative advantages of the rear tenement and 
the ordinary " double-decker," it is interesting to note a statement 
made in an editorial in the New York Times of March 16, 1879. 
This statement was made in connection with the award of the first 
prize in the first tenement house competition for plans for model 
tenements. The editorial goes on to say : 

" If the prize plans are the best offered, which we hardly believe, 
they merely demonstrate that the problem is insoluble. The three 
which have received the highest prizes offer a very slightly better 
arrangement than hundreds of tenement houses now do. They are 
simply double houses front and rear with the space between occupied 
by halls and water-closets. They have all the disadvantages of double 
houses which have so often called forth sanitary censure and even 
adverse legislation." 

It is strange that persons have not realized more often that the 
ordinary double-decker tenement house is simply a front and rear 
building, with most of the space between built up with halls, water- 
closets, and additional rooms, instead of being left open as a court- 
yard for light and air, as it is in the case of a rear tenement. 

While different views may be held upon the advantages of rear 
tenements as compared with double-deckers, there is a type of rear 
tenement house about which there can be no difference of opinion ; 
this type is the " back to back " tenement house, that is, a rear tene- 
ment located at the back of a lot and with a very small space be- 
tween it and the building upon an adjoining lot upon which it abuts. 
In some cases the backs of the two houses are close together with 
no space between ; in other cases the space between the two build- 
ings varies from 2 inches to 4 or 5 feet. In the majority of cases 



296 BACK TO BACK TENEMENTS 

this space averages about 14 inches in width. There are very few 
of such buildings in the city that are as high as 6 stories, but there 
are a number that are 4 stories, and quite a number that are 5 
stories in height. Many such tenement houses are unfit for human 
habitation and should not be permitted to be occupied. Owing to 
their construction, it is almost impossible to obtain either light or 
ventilation in the rooms at the back of the buildings unless, as hap- 
pens in a few cases, the side of the building adjoins a large yard 
next door, so that windows may be cut in the side of the house, thus 
obtaining light and air from the adjoining property. The space at 
the rear between the two buildings soon becomes a place of deposit 
for garbage, rubbish, and filth of every imaginable kind. In the 
majority of cases it is difficult to remove this filth without tear- 
ing down the buildings. In a number of buildings examined, this 
filth has been found to be packed in to the height of the second story. 
In summer the stench from the rear of these buildings is something 
indescribable, and in many cases the windows opening upon this 
narrow space are permanently nailed up, as the occupants find that 
the odors are seriously detrimental to health. 

These facts were called to the attention of the community by the 
Commission of 1894, and as a result the Board of Health in 1896 
condemned about 100 rear houses ; many of these were torn down, 
others were vacated, and others were altered so as to be made fit for 
human habitation. 

It appears that this work, undertaken by the Board of Health in 
1896-1897, however, has been discontinued. 

The following results of an examination of a number of buildings 
of this kind still in existence show that there are still many that 
are unfit for human habitation, and which should be promptly dealt 
with by the local authorities. 

In the Borough of Manhattan there are at the present time 2124 
rear tenement houses distributed as follows : 10 in the first 
ward ; 52 in the fourth ; 5 in the fifth ; 101 in the sixth ; 74 in 
the seventh ; 77 in the eighth ; 118 in the ninth ; 142 in the 
tenth ; 182 in the eleventh ; 13 in the twelfth ; 114 in the thir- 
teenth ; 148 in the fourteenth ; 32 in the fifteenth ; 124 in the 
sixteenth ; 268 in the seventeenth ; 76 in the eighteenth ; 57 in 
the nineteenth ; 299 in the twentieth ; 42 in the twenty-first ; and 
190 in the twenty-second. 

The insurance maps of the city show the location of all the 
different tenement houses, and indicate very clearly where the back 
to back tenements are located. A list of such buildings was pre- 
pared from these maps, and 438 inspections were made, involving in 
all 644 rear tenements. In a number of cases the examination dis- 




BACK TO BACK TENEMENTS, SHOWING SMALL SPACE BETWEEN BUILDINGS. 



BACK TO BACK TENEMENTS 



297 



closed the fact that the insurance maps were not entirely accurate, 
and that there was more space between the two abutting buildings 
than was indicated on the maps ; that in other cases there were 
windows on the side of the building admitting light and air from 
the adjoining lot, so that the conditions in the buildings themselves 
were not unsanitary. Out of these 644 tenement houses, 413 were 
found in which the conditions needed attention on the part of the 
authorities. In 89 cases there was no space whatsoever between the 
two back to back buildings. In 3 cases the space was only 1 
inch ; in 7 cases, only 2 inches ; in 10 cases, but 3 inches ; in 10 
cases, 4 inches ; in 14 cases, 5 inches ; in 15 cases, 6 inches ; in 9 
cases, 7 inches ; in 5 cases, 8 inches ; in 17 cases, 9 inches ; and in 
7 cases, 10 inches ; that is, in 186 cases the space between two back 
to back buildings was 10 inches or less in width. In 74 cases this 
distance was between 11 and 15 inches ; in 56 cases, between 16 and 
20 inches ; in 46 cases it was as much as 21 to 25 inches ; and in 50 
cases it was over 25 inches. 

The following tables show in detail the varying amounts of 
widths between back to back buildings in relation to the height 
of the buildings, also the relative darkness of rooms, stairs, and 
halls, as well as the amount of accumulation of rubbish between 
such back to back houses. 



BACK TO BACK REAR TENEMENTS 





TOTAL 

NUM- 
BER 


REAB BOOMS, 
STAIRS, ETC. 
DARK 


PERCENT- 
AGE 


REAR ROOMS, 
STAIRS, ETC. 
VERT DARK 


PERCENT- 
AGE 


REAR ROOMS, 
STAIRS, ETC. 
PITCH-BLACK 


PERCENT- 

AGK 


Class 1 ... 


173 


20 


12% 


69 


34% 


94 


54% 


Class 2 . . . 


104 


37 


36% 


47 


45% 


20 


19% 


Grand totals 


277 


67 


21% 


106 


38% 


114 


41% 



RUBBISH AND REFUSE 





TOTAL 

N CM HER 


PERCENTAGB 


Class 1 (173) 


80 


46% 


Class 2 (104) 


40 


38% 


Grand totals (277) . . 


120 


43% 



298 



BACK TO BACK TENEMENTS 






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BACK TO BACK TENEMENTS, SHOWING RUBBISH BETWEEN BUILDINGS. 



BACK TO BACK TENEMENTS 299 

In inspecting these buildings the inspector was instructed to 
ascertain only three facts : first, the distance between the abutting 
buildings ; second, the condition of light in the rooms at the rear ; 
and third, the condition of the space between the two buildings as to 
cleanliness. In making his report upon the condition of light in the 
rear rooms, four standards were adopted light, dark, very dark, 
and pitch-black. Out of 277 cases that have been tabulated, in 57 
cases, or 21 per cent, these rooms were reported dark ; in 106 cases, 
or 38 per cent, the rooms were reported very dark ; and in 114 cases, 
or 41 per cent, the rooms were reported to be pitch-black. 

In regard to the subject of rubbish and refuse between the two 
buildings in 120 cases, or 43 per cent, it was found that there was 
a considerable amount of such rubbish between the two buildings. 

The following extracts from the reports of the inspector in the 
case of one or two individual buildings give a realizing sense of the 
evils of this class of tenement. These inspections were all made in 
the summer time, when the buildings are at their worst. 

"139 Avenue A 5 stories in height. This rear tenement 
backs up against the building at 436 East 9th Street, which is 5 
stories high. The backs of the buildings are close together, with 
no space between. The rooms on the ground floor rear on the north 
side of the house are pitch-black and stifling ; all the rear rooms on 
the north side are very dark and unventilated ; the hall is very 
dark." 

"18 Clinton Street 5 stories in height. This rear tenement 
backs up against a factory at 157 Attorney Street, which is 5 stories 
high. The space between the backs of the buildings is 3 inches ; 
25 windows get their sole light and air from this space ; refuse 
covers the bottom of it. The rear rooms on the 1st, 2d, and 3d 
stories are pitch-black. The rear rooms on the 4th story are very 
dark." 

"288 East Houston Street 4 stories high. This rear tene- 
ment backs up against another rear tenement at No. 6 Avenue B, 
which is 4 stories high. The space between the backs of the 
buildings is 9 inches. This space is filled 2 stories high with 
rubbish. All the middle and rear rooms are very dark. About 2 
inches of water, and foul smell, in the cellar." 

" 156 Forsyth Street 6 stories in height. This rear tenement 
backs up against another rear tenement at 179 Eldridge Street which 
is 4 stories high. The space between the backs of the buildings is 
12 inches. Twenty-five windows get their sole light and air from 
this space. Refuse is scattered over the space between the buildings ; 
the rear rooms on the 1st, 2d, and 3d stories and the halls are very 
dark." 



300 BACK TO BACK TENEMENTS 

" 169 Hester Street 4 stories in height. This rear tenement 
backs up against 122 Mott Street, which is 5 stories. The space 
between the backs of the buildings is 4 inches. The refuse between 
these buildings is 1 story deep ; the ground floor is very dark and 
stifling ; the rear room even on the top floor is dark." 

"187 Hester Street 4 stories in height. This rear tenement 
backs up against the buildings at 132-138 Mulberry Street, which 
are four stories in height ; the space between the backs of the build- 
ings is 18 inches. Twenty-four windows get their sole light and 
air from this space. The bottom of the space is covered with refuse. 
The rooms in the first floor rear and the stairway are pitch-black. 
All rear rooms above the 1st story are dark." 

" 122 Mott Street 5 stories high. This rear tenement backs up 
against No. 79 Elizabeth Street, which is 5 stories high. The space 
between the backs of the buildings is 15J inches. Twenty-eight win- 
dows get their sole light and air from this space ; the bottom of it is 
covered with rubbish. The rooms on the ground floor rear are pitch- 
black and close, and even on the top floor the rear rooms are dark." 

"214 West 30th Street 4 stories in height. This rear tene- 
ment house backs up against another tenement, No. 217 West 29th 
Street, which is 3 stories high. The space between the backs 
of the building is 15 inches. Fifteen windows get their sole light 
and air from this space. Rooms on the ground floor at the rear are 
pitch-black, and the rear rooms on the 2d story are very dark. An 
immense load of rubbish between the buildings space has not been 
cleaned out for six years." 

If space permitted, one might quote at great length from the 
report of the inspector, showing similar conditions in nearly every 
one of the rear tenement houses included in the table accompanying 
this paper. 

The work of condemning the unsanitary tenements in this city, 
undertaken by the Board of Health with such vigor in 1896, should 
be resumed, and those tenement houses which are not fit for human 
habitation should be permanently vacated, or altered so as to be made 
fit for such habitation. In many of the cases enumerated in the 
tables accompanying this paper the cutting in of a few windows in 
the side walls of the building would make the rooms sanitary and 
fit to live in. In other cases, however, one of the back to back 
buildings would need to be torn down. No general scheme of deal- 
ing with these cases can be provided, however, but each house must 
be treated on its individual merits. 



TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 

BY ALBERT L. WEBSTER, C.E. 



TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 



OWING to the limited means available for a special sanitary 
investigation of the tenement houses, the scope of this examination 
has been confined to the subjects of the plumbing, drainage, and 
water supply of the buildings, with incidental consideration of the 
lighting and ventilation of water-closet compartments and the condi- 
tion of cellars, yards, courts, and roofs. 

BUILDINGS SELECTED FOR SPECIAL SANITARY EXAMINATION 

Buildings were selected for special examination which should 
include all classes of tenement houses, from the oldest type and 
poorest character to the most recent examples of modern construc- 
tion. The buildings selected were confined, however, to those which 
are generally considered " tenement houses," and did not include the 
better class of flats and apartment houses. 

A list of seventy-six buildings was selected from the records in 
the office of the Secretary of the Tenement House Commission, 
covering the range in age and character above noted, and extending 
in location from the crowded lower East Side district to the Borough 
of the Bronx, with buildings also in the east and west middle tene- 
ment sections, and the upper Manhattan East Side district. Several 
of the large modern model tenement buildings were also examined. 

DISTRIBUTION BY AGE 
The distribution by age of the buildings examined is as follows: 

1. Very old buildings and old residences converted into tene- 

ment houses 7 per cent 

2. Erected in 1866 to 1869 inclusive 14 per cent 

3. Erected in 1870 to 1879 inclusive 8 per cent 

4. Erected in 1880 to 1889 inclusive 15 per cent 

5. Erected in 1890 to date 66 per cent 

It will be noted that more than half of the buildings examined 
are of modern types. Twenty-eight per cent were built since Janu- 
ary, 1898. It was thought advisable to give especial attention to 
modern buildings, as the unsanitary condition of the older buildings 

303 



304 TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 

has been too often commented upon to require detailed investigation 
at this time. Enough old buildings were examined, however, to 
supply knowledge of their sanitary condition for present purposes. 
Where possible the individual building examined was selected from 
one of a row, built at the same time and on the same plan as the one 
selected ; and the conditions recorded under the examination were 
assumed to reasonably represent the condition of the other similar 
buildings in the row. Partial examinations were made of some of 
these adjoining buildings to test the accuracy of this assumption, and 
the records show that the results obtained from the actual inspec- 
tions may be applied with equal force to adjoining buildings and the 
field proportionately broadened. 

Actual sanitary inspections were made of 76 buildings, represent- 
ing 222 neighboring buildings of corresponding types. 

PREVIOUS SPECIAL SANITARY EXAMINATIONS 

In addition to the above inspections the records of 52 additional 
buildings examined under my direction in 1897 were also considered. 
These records were obtained by a special sanitary house to house 
inspection of the buildings on both sides of West 61st Street between 
Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, one of the crowded districts, largely 
occupied by colored people. 

A brief inspection of a few of these buildings was made for the 
present investigation, to determine if any material changes had 
been made since the inspection of 1897. No such changes were 
observed, and the records may be accepted as forming a part of the 
data of to-day. They are of value, as the records contain detailed 
technical information arid were made by a trained inspector. 

ADDITIONAL RECORDS EXAMINED, NOT SPECIFICALLY SANITARY 

A further group of records has also been put at my disposal by 
the Secretary of the Commission, covering a recent" general inspec- 
tion (not specifically sanitary) of the buildings in eight city blocks 
scattered through the lower tenement districts and comprising reports 
on 304 buildings. These latter records were examined with special 
reference to the water-closet accommodations and their condition, as 
these features give a fair index of the character of the building with 
reference to other sanitary features. 

SUMMARY OF RECORDS EXAMINED 

The following summary indicates the number of buildings which 
have come under consideration : 




TYPICAL "SCHOOL SINK" IN ELIZABETH STREET. 



TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 305 

1. Present special sanitary inspection 76 buildings, representa- 

tive of 222 buildings 

2. Special sanitary inspection made in 1897 .... 52 buildings 

3. Records of recent general inspections 304 buildings 

Total buildings considered .,'.... 578 buildings 

These buildings represent over 10,000 apartments, with an esti- 
mated population of about 50,000. 

METHOD OF INSPECTION 

In order to systematize the collection of data relating to the build- 
ings, a series of questions was printed on a set of cards comprising 
seven pages for each building. A set of these cards in blank will 
be found in Appendix 10. The questions relating particularly to 
plumbing and sanitary features were grouped under the following 
general headings : 

Apartments, Soil, 

Cellar, Laws, 

Front and back yards, courts, Water-closet accommodation, 

areas, light shafts, Smoke test, 

Cesspool, Free openings for escape of drain 

Halls, air, 

Roof, Trap siphonage. 

It was found impossible to obtain information covered by some 
of these topics without more extended time and means than the 
present inquiry permitted. The technical nature of the inquiry 
demanded experts to make the examinations, and Mr. William Paul 
Gerhardt, Civil and Sanitary Engineer, kindly consented to person- 
ally inspect a number of buildings, and gave me very valuable assist- 
ance. Mr. William C. Tucker, Civil and Sanitary Engineer, was 
also employed for the same purpose, and I made personal inspections 
of twenty-five buildings ranging from the oldest to the most modern. 
The fact that the buildings were reported upon by experts character- 
izes the results as trustworthy. 

In studying the data collected and drawing conclusions therefrom, 
effort has been made to avoid a technically critical standard, and to 
meet the inquiry from a rational and practical point of view. 
Attention has been directed to suggesting improvements that can be 
practically accomplished without working an injury to existing 
property rights, and without working an injustice to those who built 
to the best of their knowledge and within the limits of then 
existing laws. The subject is not considered historically nor 
academically, but the facts as they exist are accepted as conclusive, 
and the inquiry made, "Do they meet the demands which may be 

VOL. I X 



306 TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 

reasonably required for healthfulness, morals, and common decency ? " 
on the strict business principle that local deficiency in these particu- 
lars stands as a menace to the whole community. Sentimental con- 
cern for the comfort of the tenant is not regarded unless it can be 
shown that inconvenient appliances lead to practices productive of 
harm to the community. It is assumed primarily that reasonable 
cleanliness and decency can only be secured where tenants are pro- 
vided with proper water-closet accommodations, pure and ample 
supply of water for drinking, washing, and cooking, and with pro- 
visions for the safe removal of the waste from these processes. It is 
also assumed that the tenant shall not be subjected to unhealthful 
influences due to site or structural defects beyond his power of 
removal. 

The topics investigated will be considered in order and comment 
made where improvement appears desirable. 



WATER-CLOSET ACCOMMODATIONS 

The provision for water-closet accommodations may be classed 
in three groups, as follows : 

(a) Those located in back yards. 

(6) Those located in the halls. 

(c) Those located in the apartments. 
They will be considered in the order named. 



WATEE-CLOSET SHELTERS IN BACK YARDS 

These in general are confined to very old reconverted buildings 
or to those built prior to 1881. 

The shelters for yard water-closet accommodations are frame build- 
ings, generally of flimsy construction, divided by wooden partitions 
into compartments about 2 feet 6 inches wide by 3 feet 9 inches deep, 
having one seat in each compartment. The buildings are frequently 
close to the windows and doors of the adjoining tenements. The 
compartments have doors with a small hole at the top for light and 
ventilation. The doors are generally locked, the keys being in the 
possession of the tenants. Each compartment is used by from one 
to four families. The floors are of wood, as are also the seats, with 
a wood casing from the floor to the seat. The records of 578 
buildings showed that 234 had back yard accommodations. Seventy- 
five per cent of these were reported clean or fairly clean in so far as 
the floors, seats, and exposed woodwork are concerned. Some few 
were reported exceedingly foul in these particulars. The care of the 




A SCHOOL SINK A CONDITION OFTEN FOUND. 



TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 307 

compartments is under the control of the janitor or housekeeper, 
and the records show that in the majority of cases considerable effort 
is made to keep the compartments as clean as the character of 
structure permits. 

SCHOOL SINKS IN BACK YARDS 

The majority of the old buildings have "school sinks" built 
beneath the seats of the shelters. These are generally brick masonry 
vaults from 10 feet to 14 feet long, 2 feet wide, and from 2 to 3 
feet deep, built below the level of the yard, and extended with wood 
to the level of the seats, a height of about 18 inches. The wooden 
apron at the front and rear of the seats is sometimes protected 
with sheet metal. The bottom of the vaults is generally formed 
of a semicircular trough of cast iron with a 4-inch outlet at the 
lower or discharge end, connecting with a drain, passing under 
the cellar floor of the tenement to the street sewer. The outlet 
of the trough is closed with an iron cylindrical hollow plug 
about 1 foot high, serving as a stopper and overflow. The plug 
is provided with a bar and rod with which it may be lifted 
out from above. In front of the plug there is usually a coarse 
strainer of iron bars. Water is generally supplied to the trough 
through a small water pipe at the upper end, controlled by a valve 
placed below frost line, having an operating bar and handle in 
the floor of one compartment. This direct connection between the 
water supply pipes and the vault offers some danger. Water is 
turned into the trough to a depth of from 6 to 9 inches ; the trough 
holds from 50 to 150 gallons of water. All material falling into the 
vault is retained in the trough until such time as the plug is lifted 
out. It is the duty of the janitor to remove the plug and flush out 
the trough. This is supposed to be done daily, but the evidence 
appears to be that it is not customary to do this oftener than once in 
two days and in some cases once a week. The process is a disagree- 
able and foul one and the stench excessive. It is apparent that a 
device of this character depending on the faithfulness of the janitor 
is most undesirable. The sides of the vault above the water level 
are exceedingly foul and receive no flush from the water. The 
woodwork from the top of the vault to the seats is also very foul 
and coated with foecal matter. The majorit}^ of the vaults were 
reported foul and some exceedingly foul; a very few were reported 
clean. In some cases a small ventilation pipe extends above the roof 
of the shelter. It is of little or no service. The flush of water 
is insufficient to properly flush out the drain or sewer connecting 
with the vault, and it appears probable that much of the material 



308 



TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 



washed out of the trough must lodge in the drain until the next 
flush or until washed out by a rain storm. It is generally the 
case that the rain leader of the building connects with the drain 
from the school sink, and in many cases these leaders do not appear 
to be trapped. The air from the foul drain would, in these cases, 
escape through the loose joints of the rain leader near the rear win- 
dows of the building. The foul odor from the leaders at the roof 
in a few cases examined indicated that these conditions undoubtedly 




OVTLCT PLUG 



J / 

DIAGRAM SHOWING CONSTRUCTION OF " SCHOOL SINK." 

exist. It is my opinion that the school sinks of all types should be 
absolutely removed. It is a condition that warrants drastic reme- 
dies. As a substitute for the school sinks there is room for differ- 
ence of opinion. I should advise properly constructed and ventilated 
water-closets on each floor of the building. If this should be found 
impracticable, a great improvement could be made by substituting 
individual long hopper water-closets in the yard building in place of 
the school sinks. There are some objections to this type of closet, 
but it would be very decidedly better than any form of school 



TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 309 

sink. The details for this substitution would require some study. 
Another aspect of the case should, however, be considered before 
recommending this improvement. The back yard water-closets are 
not provided with light at night nor are they warmed in winter. 
The discomfort and inconvenience experienced in using them leads 
apparently to more primitive methods of disposal, and the cellars, 
yards, roofs, public sinks, and even halls of some of the buildings 
bear evidence of their use as water-closets in the most primitive man- 
ner, consistent only with the habits of animals. This practice will 
not be stopped by substituting water-closets for the school sinks in the 
back yards, but it would doubtless be stopped or materially reduced 
by the provision of water-closets on each floor of the building or in 
each apartment. 



WATER-CLOSETS IN BACK YARDS 

About 15 per cent of the buildings having water-closet accommo- 
dations in the back yard are provided with cast-iron long hopper 
closets, having the trap below frost line and a water pipe connecting 
with the flushing rim of the bowl of the individual closets. The 
water pipe has a spring valve below frost line, operated by a rod 
pressed by the seat when in use. The closets are cased in wood and 
stand on wood flooring. The space beneath the seat is generally 
more or less foul or wet and the wordwork rotted. The closet is 
not a cleanly type, and is generally insufficiently flushed. The 
valves are also liable to get out of order. The closets inspected 
were not generally in foul condition. The direct connection of the 
water pipe with the bowl of the closet offers some element of danger. 
The woodwork encasing the front of the closet should be perma- 
nently removed, so that the floor beneath the seat may be readily 
cleaned, and any leak or defect in the water connection observed 
before the woodwork has been rotted. The closet should properly 
stand on a slate or natural stone slab and be flushed from individual 
flush tanks. Provision of this kind would require protection from 
frost, which will doubtless be difficult to accomplish. The floors 
and walls of the compartments should be of slate or other non- 
absorbent material, and the seats should be attached to the bowls of 
the closets. Provision should be made for readily removing stop- 
pages in the drain for ventilating the same. It would be much 
better to prohibit all back yard closets unless properly heated in 
winter and lighted at night, and their retention in any case should 
only be considered on the ground that any improvement removing 
the foul school sinks is some advance. 



310 TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 



WATER-CLOSETS IN HALLS 

These are generally in small individual compartments opening on 
the public halls of each story. In the older type of buildings (built 
about twenty years ago), one closet is used by two or four families. 
In modern buildings one closet serves two families. The compart- 
ments are locked, the keys being in the possession of tenants. Sixty- 
seven per cent of the water-closet compartments opening on halls 
were found to be clean or fairly clean. There appears to be reason- 
able effort on the part of tenants to keep the seats, floors, and com- 
partments clean where exposed to view. The convenience of hall 
water-closets appears to reduce the tendency to use the roofs, cellars, 
and yards for water-closet purposes. Badly lighted compartments 
are not apt to be found clean. 

OLDER BUILDINGS WATER-CLOSETS IN HALLS 

In the older type of buildings the compartments are either at the 
rear end of the hall, with windows opening on the back yard, or are 
near the centre of the building, with windows opening on small light 
shafts or on dark ventilating shafts, or with windows on both light 
and ventilating shafts. The light shafts generally serve also for 
adjoining bedrooms of the apartments. The water-closet compart- 
ments of the upper stories are fairly well lighted and ventilated ; 
those in the lower stories and cellar are insufficiently lighted and 
ventilated in most cases. The compartments are generally not pro- 
vided with light for use at night. The modern buildings, however, 
have glass panels in the doors, or transoms, through which the com- 
partments receive light from the gas-lights in the hallways opposite 
them. A few compartments are provided with gas-burners. 

To properly provide daylight and ventilation for the water-closets 
on lower floors of the older type of buildings would require radical 
reconstruction practically impossible to accomplish. Improvements 
in the provisions for cleanliness and artificial lighting can be accom- 
plished without radical changes and in a practical manner. The 
floors are generally of wood and the seats extend the full width of 
the compartment, with a removable wood panel from floor to seat, 
enclosing the fixture. The enclosed space was generally found dusty 
or dirty and sometimes wet and ill-smelling. The floor within the 
enclosed space is frequently in bad condition, and there are openings 
around the pipes which permit the odors from the lower floors to 
pass to those above. The enclosing wood panel should be perma- 
nently removed, and the openings around the pipes sealed against 
the passage of air from one story to another. This is particularly 



312 TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 

important to prevent the spread of contagious diseases from floor 
to floor. It would be desirable also to provide a slate or stone 
floor slab beneath the closet, or otherwise supply non-absorbent floor 
surface beneath the closet. Painting the floor beneath the seat 
would improve present conditions. The connection between the 
flush pipe and bowl of the closet is frequently defective, wetting 
the floor beneath, which at present is concealed from view. By ex- 
posing this space the defect would become apparent, as would also 
fouling through misuse of the closet. The objectionable features 
noted have been discovered by practical experience, and the rules 
and regulations of the Building Department have for some time 
prohibited enclosed water-closets and required natural stone floor 
slabs beneath the closets. The same improvements should be re- 
quired for buildings constructed prior to the enforcement of these 
regulations. It is particularly desirable, where the compartments 
are badly lighted and where improved lighting cannot be secured, 
that every facility be offered for keeping the compartments clean. 

MODERN BUILDINGS WATER-CLOSETS IN HALLS 

The present requirements of the Building Department relating to 
water-closets are admirable, and generally insure cleanly conditions 
where the closets are well lighted. I believe improvement can be 
made in some particulars. 

If practicable, the water-closet seat should be attached to the 
bowl of the closet and the fixture left free for cleansing. The 
present type of short hopper closet with iron trap and porcelain bowl 
would require some improvement to meet this requirement, but it is 
a mechanical detail which I believe can be practically accomplished. 
The trap standard of the closet should be arranged to rest on the 
floor and carry the weight without straining the connection between 
trap and soil pipe. Most of the closets in both old and new work 
are provided with drip pans between the seat and bowl of the closets, 
intended to prevent the floor beneath being soiled when the closet 
is used as a urinal or slop sink. These drip pans are frequently 
foul on top, and generally foul on the under side at the joint between 
the bowl and pan, and they cannot be easily cleaned. With exposed 
fixtures and non-absorbent floors, I believe the fouling of floors from 
misuse of the fixtures would be less than the present fouling of the 
space between drip pan and closet bowl. 

TYPE OF CLOSETS 

About 90 per cent of the hall water-closets inspected were short 
hopper closets, with an enamelled cast-iron trap calked into a branch 




CELLAR WATER CLOSET, SHOWING IMPORTANCE OF LIGHT AND AIR. 



TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 313 

Y fitting on the main soil pipe, and vented from the crown of the 
trap through a 2-inch lead branch pipe connecting with a vertical 
vent riser. In most cases the trap forming the base of the closet 
did not rest on the floor, the closet being held by the connection 
with the soil pipe. The closet should rest on the floor slab. The 
bowl of the closets is generally white earthenware with a flushing 
rim. Most of them have individual flush tanks operated by a hand- 
pull and supplied with water from street or tank pressure. The 
majority of the bowls of the closets were well flushed and in reason- 
ably cleanly condition. A few were foul, due to lack of attention. 
Thirteen per cent only of the closets were deficient in water supply. 
The tanks of a few were also out of order. 

These same deficiencies would doubtless be found to some extent 
in high-class private dwellings. 

WATER-CLOSETS IN CELLARS AND BASEMENTS 

The water-closets in cellars and basements, even of modern build- 
ings, are generally badly lighted and ventilated and in foul condition. 
Some closets were found in vaults under the sidewalk. Unless used 
by resident tenants they receive no proper care. They are generally 
used by the janitor or by the occupants of basement or cellar stores. 
Some of the compartments are used for storage, and the water in the 
trap evaporates through disuse. In the majority of strictly tenement 
houses it would probably be desirable to prohibit water-closets in 
cellars or basements not used as tenements ; and require that water- 
closet accommodations for the stores be placed on the first floor. 
Individual buildings would doubtless require some modification of 
this regulation. It may be said in general that the uncleanly con- 
dition of the water-closets and compartments noted, amounting to 33 
per cent of those examined, is in part due to the personal character 
of the janitor and in part to the character and nationality of tenants. 
For these cases official oversight and periodic inspection must supple- 
ment structural improvements. 

WATER-CLOSETS IN APARTMENTS 

Twenty per cent of the buildings examined under this special 
sanitary inspection were provided with water-closets within the 
apartments. These were generally a good grade of modern tene- 
ment building, with tenants composed of the characteristic tenement 
population of the better class. Ninety-two per cent of these closets 
were found to be in clean condition. Some of them were a cheap 
form of earthenware closet, with hardwood seats attached to the bowl 
or wall, free of enclosing woodwork, and with individual flush tanks 



314 TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 

operated by a chain and pull. The seats in many cases were broken 
at the hinges, due to the cheap class of fixture. Most of the closets 
were in compartments also containing a bath-tub, opening on a light 
well of fair proportions. The upper floors were well lighted, the 
lower floors fairly well lighted. These bath-rooms usually contained 
more or less household furniture and effects, but were on the whole 
in reasonably clean condition, and superior to the water-closets in 
the halls. The cheap character of the earthenware water-closet 
fixtures offers some dangers not found in the cheaper class of short 
hopper closets generally used in the hall water-closets. The flpor 
connection of the earthenware closets depends for security on good 
material and workmanship, and its condition cannot generally be 
determined by inspection. The short hopper closets have a cast-iron 
trap calked with metallic lead into a hub on the soil pipe open to 
inspection a more secure connection, but not so neat in appearance. 
The earthenware closets of the " wash down " type are superior in 
cleanliness to the short hoppers with enamelled iron traps, but strict 
official oversight should be given where all earthenware closets are 
used. An example illustrating the importance of proper supervision 
will be found under the heading "Tests of Plumbing." In so far 
as the plumbing is concerned, the water-closets in halls are as secure 
as those in the individual apartments, but there is apt to be greater 
cleanliness observed where the closets are in the apartments. In the 
event of contagious or infectious diseases, individual closets in the 
apartments are undoubtedly safer. On the ground of privacy, espe- 
cially for the women and children of the family, they are much to be 
preferred. 

SINKS IN APARTMENTS AND PUBLIC HALLS 

In all of the buildings examined, sinks with faucets for drawing 
water were found either in the apartments or in the public halls on 
each floor. Twenty-seven per cent of the buildings examined had 
sinks in the halls of the buildings. The total percentage of tene- 
ments with these public hall sinks is undoubtedly greater, as the 
majority of the buildings examined were of recent date. It has been 
the general practice for the past thirty years to place the sinks in the 
apartments. Buildings of earlier date usually have the hall sinks. 
The sinks in all cases seen, with one exception, were cast iron. The 
hall sinks are generally placed in a recess or alcove in the wall on 
the upper floors, and under the stairs on the first floor. In some 
cases they are on the stair landings. The halls are generally very 
dark, except when the doors of apartments are open. They gen- 
erally have a wooden rim with a sheet metal flashing above the sink, 
and wood casing or door below the sink, enclosing the space beneath 







A SINK IN A PUBLIC HALL. 



TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 315 

it. In the older and poorer class of buildings the casing is nailed 
or fastened to prevent tenants from removing the lead traps of the 
sinks, which have a small value as old lead. The space beneath the 
sinks enclosed by the casing was generally very dirty and in some 
cases wet and foul, and the woodwork rotted. It appears that this 
space is never cleaned. 

The wood rims of the sinks and the upper part of the wood cas- 
ing were generally wet, and the joint between the sink and the wood 
rim, not easy to clean, was more or less foul. The sinks themselves 
were generally in clean or very fair condition. Twenty per cent of 
those examined were reported dirty. There was no evidence that 
the sinks are used for receiving chamber slops, although they are 
doubtless so used in many cases. They were generally not especially 
offensive in odor. 

The sink wastes were in all cases trapped by lead bend traps 
close to the fixture (the proper method). Thirty- three per cent of 
the traps were not provided with trap ventilation pipes, to protect 
them against siphonage and back pressure. The water seals of some 
of the traps are doubtless siphoned at times, allowing for a time a 
free vent for drain air to escape to the halls. The occurrence is 
probably not as frequent as the unvented condition of the traps 
would suggest. The lead traps and wastes beneath the encased 
sinks were in some cases found in bad condition. Holes had been 
cut in them to remove stoppages, and had not been sealed or were 
insecurely sealed. These defects provided openings for the escape 
of drain air. Eighty-six per cent of the traps of all of the sinks ex- 
amined in halls and apartments were found to be in sound condition. 
In the older buildings this percentage will doubtless be found much 
smaller. 

It seems very desirable to improve the condition of the hall sinks 
by permanently removing the wood rims and the enclosing woodwork 
beneath the sinks, repairing and cleaning the wall and floor surfaces 
thus exposed. In some cases the traps should be provided with trap 
ventilation pipes. Openings in the traps or wastes should be per- 
manently sealed. Where the traps are liable to be cut out and stolen 
they should be replaced with enamelled cast-iron or brass traps and 
iron wastes calked into the hub of a fitting on the vertical waste 
pipes. 

The sinks in apartments, especially of more recent buildings, are 
generally free of either wood rims or enclosing woodwork. They 
usually have cast-iron backs and are firmly supported on cast-iron 
legs. They were generally in very clean condition, as was also the 
floor and woodwork. The traps are generally of lead properly vented, 
and serve also for the fixed wash-tubs which usually stand next to 



316 TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 

them. Some of these exposed traps were dented and battered by 
pails and utensils placed under the sinks. This injury to the traps 
and wastes is liable to cause stoppage in the pipe. It would be a 
desirable improvement in new buildings to require enamelled iron or 
cast-brass traps and iron wastes for these fixtures. 

FIXED WASH-TUBS 

In buildings of more recent years two fixed wash-tubs or " laun- 
dry tubs " are usually provided in the kitchen of each apartment, 
next to the sink. Seventy-one per cent of the buildings examined 
were provided with tubs of this character. Eighty-six per cent of 
these tubs were made of patent cement composition, soapstone, or 
equivalent material all more or less non-absorbent. The rest were 
wood or wood lined with sheet metal. The tubs have wooden covers 
serving as a table adjoining the sink. In many cases soiled clothes 
were in soak in the laundry tubs, the covers being closed. The covers 
are not desirable, as they are absorbent and are generally closed, pre- 
venting a circulation of air in the tubs, which have a strong musty 
and disagreeable odor. The tenants find the covers so serviceable 
as a table that it would be difficult to reconcile them to their removal. 
Drapery of some kind is usually tacked to the front edge of the 
covers by the tenants to conceal the tubs. It would certainly be an 
improvement to prohibit covers on the tubs for future buildings or 
to require some form of ventilated cover. 

BATH-TUBS 

In five of the buildings examined bath-tubs were found in the 
apartments. These were enamelled iron, steel-clad, tin-planished cop- 
per, or tin-planished copper encased in woodwork. The tenants re- 
ported that they used the tubs especially in summer. Some contained 
small articles of furniture. They appeared to be in clean condition. 
In one instance the tenant was washing clothes in the bath-tub, al- 
though there were laundry tubs in the kitchen adjoining. The data 
collected is not sufficient to draw conclusions of value. 

My impression is that numerous public baths or public bathing 
facilities for a group of model tenements under the control of an 
attendant will meet the general demand better and in a more sani- 
tary manner than individual bath-tubs in each apartment. This can- 
not be regarded as more than a personal impression. 

WATER SUPPLY 

The water supply of all the buildings examined was drawn from 
the public water mains. 



TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 317 

The old type of buildings are supplied through pipes under street 
pressure only. This pressure is insufficient at times to reach the 
upper floors. The deficiency is met by providing pumps at the hall 
sinks by means of which water can be forced to the upper floors. 
Except where there are water-closets in buildings of this character, 
the lack of water means generally only inconvenience for the tenants ; 
although under certain conditions where there is insufficient pressure 
together with direct connected school sinks and closets in the 
yard there is danger of infecting the water supply. These old 
buildings generally have a hydrant in the back yard from which 
water can be drawn at all times. It is principally used by tenants 
living on the first floor or in the basement. Where there are closets 
on the upper floors failure in the water supply entails insufficient 
flushing of the closets and consequent foulness. Thirteen per cent 
of the buildings examined, containing water-closets, were reported 
as having deficient supply at some of the closets. The majority of 
the old buildings have school sinks or water-closets in the back yards, 
which are not affected. In many cases, if tanks were provided on 
the roofs of the buildings, they would doubtless fill at night when 
the pressure is stronger, and sufficient water could be stored to bridge 
over the period of low pressure. Of the buildings examined 45 per 
cent were supplied by street pressure only ; of these 28 per cent 
were lacking in supply on the upper floors. The remaining 55 per 
cent were supplied from street pressure on the lower floors and tank 
pressure on the upper floors ; of this number only one or two were 
lacking in water due to failure in the tank supply. 

The modern and comparatively recent buildings generally have 
circular wooden tanks above the roof, holding from 1000 to 2000 
gallons. A few have wrought-iron tanks. They are filled by a hot 
air or gas engine located in the cellar and under the care of the jani- 
tor. In many cases the tanks are filled by having the janitor turn 
on the street pressure at night. 

The tanks usually have a cover of wood, with a portion hinged 
for inspection and entrance. These portions are frequently left open. 
They are not otherwise protected from frost, but do not often freeze, as 
the water is in sufficient circulation to check this tendency. The pipes 
connecting with the tank are usually packed to protect them from frost. 

The tanks accumulate considerable sediment deposited by the 
water, and this is supposed to be drawn off through a pipe in the 
bottom, and the tank cleaned at intervals, by the janitor. This 
is probably not done with sufficient frequency. It was not pos- 
sible to obtain data as to the condition of the tanks. The water 
generally had a turbid and muddy appearance characteristic of the 
city water in large volume. 



318 TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 

In some cases the soil pipes of the plumbing system open too 
close to the tanks, offering possible contamination of the water 
through the passage of drain air to the water in the tank. 

MAIN DRAIN PIPE IN THE CELLAR 

The main drain pipe of the plumbing system and its connecting 
branches are generally buried beneath the cellar floor of the building. 
In 87 per cent of the buildings examined the drains were concealed 
and could not be inspected ; evidence of the quality of pipe and its 
condition could only be obtained by inference from such occasional 
connections as were exposed in pockets in the floor or at points where 
the drains had been cut into to remove stoppages. In about 70 per 
cent of the buildings examined the drains appeared to be composed 
of heavy cast-iron pipe a strong and durable material. This per- 
centage would doubtless be much reduced if more of the older type of 
buildings had been inspected. 

It was common practice in earlier years to use earthenware pipe 
or brick drains, both of which materials are unsuitable for drains 
within a building, as they can rarely be made water or air tight. It 
is probable that a large percentage of the old buildings having school 
sinks are provided with this character of drain. They have been 
prohibited by the plumbing regulations since the enactment of the 
first plumbing laws in 1881. In a few cases where this character of 
drain was seen, they were in defective condition, and free outlets 
were found through which drain air could escape to the cellar. In 
some cases the cellar was reported to be occasionally flooded with 
sewage when a stoppage occurred in the drain. In the older build- 
ings no house traps were provided to prevent the entrance of air 
from the street sewer into the connecting house drains. 

The first improvement made in this particular was to require the 
use of iron pipe for the drains. The earlier buildings constructed 
under this requirement used a light grade of iron pipe. This was a 
decided advance, but the light pipe was found to be insecure, and in 
recent years " extra heavy " cast-iron pipe has been used. The pres- 
ent requirements of the Building Department insure durable and safe 
conditions if properly enforced and provided the work is not after- 
ward injured. It should be noted that the quality and condition of 
the main drains referred to is not limited to the tenement house 
districts. The same conditions will be found in private houses of an 
excellent character, built thirty or forty years ago in the so-called 
brownstone district where the plumbing has not been since renewed. 

Apart from the character of material employed, it was found that 
stoppages in the main drain are apparently of not infrequent occur- 



TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 319 

rence. The drains are frequently cut into to remove the cause of 
stoppage, and the openings thus made are not securely repaired. 
In some cases they were covered with a brick or piece of sheet 
metal in others with putty or a plug of wood, cork, or other 
material. 

In addition to the injury thus done to plumbing which may have 
been originally secure, alterations have been made and new fixtures 
added for which connections to the drains have been made by break- 
ing into the pipe and using fittings clamped to the pipe and depend- 
ing on a layer of putty between the engaging surfaces for security. 
These connections cannot be relied upon to remain tight. This 
practice is not confined to old buildings, but can be found in those of 
very recent construction. 

Thirty per cent of the buildings examined were found to have 
either free openings for the escape of drain air, or patched or defec- 
tive connections, or insecurely plugged openings. In one or two 
cases noted, of buildings finished this year, openings had been cut 
into the pipes to remove stoppages and left open or insecurely plugged. 
This is doubtless of frequent occurrence, but is not confined to tene- 
ment house properties. The same condition will be found in a 
greater or less degree in apartment houses and office buildings or 
private residences. Fifteen years' experience in the examination of 
buildings leads me to believe that fully 80 per cent of the buildings 
in the city are not secure against the escape of drain air. 

Concerning the tenement houses, it is very important that the 
drains and connecting branches in the cellar should be left exposed 
as far as practicable. This will be difficult to accomplish in cases 
where there are fixtures in the cellar or basement, or where areas or 
yards at a low level require the drains to lie beneath the level of the 
cellar floor. I am not prepared to offer a solution of the problem. 
It is a difficult one to meet practically for general application with- 
out more extended investigation, but it is a matter of great impor- 
tance. The fact that the drains are to be left exposed would insure 
better workmanship and would permit easy inspection. It would 
also tend to prevent subsequent defective connections and conceal- 
ment of imperfect repairs. 

The above suggestion should apply to buildings hereafter con- 
structed and to alterations of existing buildings. The only remedy 
for the undoubted defective condition of the earthenware drains and 
brick sewers in old buildings is to replace them with extra heavy 
cast-iron pipe in conformity, both as to design and workmanship, with 
the present requirements of the Building Department. To effect 
this improvement will be an extensive and laborious undertaking. 
I believe, however, that the conditions warrant such measures. 



320 TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 



MAIN HOUSE TRAP AND FRESH AIR INLET 

In view of the undoubted defective condition of the plumbing 
pipes in a large percentage of the buildings in the city, the passage 
of air from the street sewers to the house plumbing pipes should be 
prevented. It is better to limit the drain air which may enter the 
building to the air circulating in the house pipes rather than to per- 
mit air from the public sewers to escape to the building. The houses 
in this particular should be isolated. I state this at length because 
competent sanitary authorities frequently advocate ventilating the 
public sewers through the house plumbing pipes. It is certainly 
desirable to secure as much ventilation as possible for the public 
sewers, but the authorities advocating the use of the house pipes for 
this purpose have had limited experience in the examination of house 
plumbing and assume that it is generally tight against the escape of 
drain air. This condition does not generally exist, and in addition 
thereto many of the old public sewers are in very foul condition. 

These facts have been recognized for some years by the city 
authorities, and an accessible house trap is required on the main 
drain before it passes out of the building. These traps are simply 
short depressed bends of pipe which retain a comparatively small 
amount of sewage. They permit the house sewage to drain readily 
through them to the street sewer, but do not permit the return of air 
from the sewer to the house drains. In many of the older buildings 
there is no indication of these traps. Thirty-three per cent of the 
buildings examined showed no evidence of house traps. It is possi- 
ble that in some cases these traps exist, but are buried and inaccessible. 

Where the house trap is used it is desirable to make provision for 
the entrance of fresh air to the house drain back of the trap in order 
to secure a circulation of air through the house pipes and to prevent 
air pressure in the main drain, sealed against air movement by the 
house trap. 

This " foot ventilation " is secured by connecting an air pipe with 
the main drain just back of the house trap and extending it outside of 
the building, allowing fresh air to enter the drains, pass through them, 
and escape through the vertical plumbing pipes opening above the roof 
of the building. This connecting air pipe is called the " fresh air 
inlet " or " foot vent. " The open end of the fresh air inlet is con- 
sidered a danger point from which drain air may escape, since the 
direction of the current of air in the house drains is sometimes 
reversed and passes out of the inlet pipe. The location of the open 
end of the pipe is therefore a matter of considerable importance. 
It should not be placed near windows or doors or intakes to the 
heating system. In the majority of cases it has been the custom 



TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 821 

to locate the inlet end of the pipe in a small brick box built beneath 
the street sidewalk close to the curb. Over this box a small cast- 
iron frame and grating is set in the sidewalk, flush with the surface. 
Until three years ago these brick boxes were small and inadequate. 
They became quickly filled with dust and sweepings from the side- 
walk, and the open end of the inlet pipe was sealed and inoperative. 
The owners of properties were not informed of the purpose of the 
device, and the boxes were rarely clean of accumulated rubbish. An 
improvement was made three years ago by requiring larger boxes of 
better design, but these also become choked in time unless cleaned 
periodically ; periodic inspection will be necessary to keep them in 
serviceable condition. Sixty-seven per cent of the fresh air inlet 
pipes examined were found choked or partially choked. This per- 
centage will probably apply to all of the fresh air inlet boxes in 
the city. 

PLUMBING PIPES THROUGH THE BUILDINGS 

The soil, waste, and vent pipes in the buildings are, in the ma- 
jority of cases, concealed from view. In 85 per cent of the houses 
examined, the pipes were buried in the walls or encased in woodwork. 
This applies both to old and new buildings. I consider it of great 
importance that these pipes be exposed in all cases as far as practi- 
cable, either in the rooms or halls or in dumb-waiter shafts. The 
fact that pipes are to be left open to view insures better workmanship 
and admits of ready inspection. Where the pipes can be uncovered 
in old buildings by simply removing the wood casing enclosing them, 
without injury to the building, it should be required. The question 
of appearance does not apply to these buildings as forcibly as to 
private dwellings ; but it is certainly desirable to discourage the 
present practice of concealing the plumbing pipes in tenements as 
well as in buildings of a better class. The importance of this re- 
quirement will be recognized when it is observed that in the buildings 
examined there are about four miles of plumbing pipes. 

PLUMBING VENTILATION PIPES ABOVE THE ROOF 

It has been the practice for many years to extend the plumbing 
pipes above the roof of the building to allow the foul air in the drains 
to escape and promote a circulation of air in the pipes. The present 
requirements of the Building Department are well framed to ac- 
complish this purpose, but many of these pipes open too close to the 
doors or windows of the stairways leading to the roof. These doors 
are generally found open during clement weather. In 40 per 
cent of the buildings examined the open ends of some plumbing pipe 

VOL. I Y 



322 TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 

were within ten feet of roof doors or neighboring windows. In some 
cases the pipes open within the roof space used for drying clothes 
and also in some cases close to the roof tanks. In these situations 
the pipes should be extended and braced to the roof. 

TESTS OF PLUMBING 

It was my intention to apply a smoke test to the plumbing of 
some of the buildings if the conditions found on inspection indicated 
that this would be practicable. As previously noted, 30 per 
cent of the buildings showed palpably defective conditions, which I 
felt confident would show defects under tests and where it was un- 
necessary to apply it in order to demonstrate leaks. An attempt 
was therefore made to test a building recently finished, where the 
plumbing showed no defects that could be detected simply by 
inspection. 

A very light smoke test was applied to the plumbing in a building 
on Madison Street, finished in January, 1900, containing "front- 
outlet wash-out " earthenware water-closets in bath-rooms. Serious 
leaks were immediately disclosed by the test and before all of the 
pipes in the building were even subjected to test. The smoke due 
to the test, which should have been confined within the pipes, ap- 
peared so quickly in some of the water-closet compartments of the 
soil line under test and in the dumb-waiter shaft, that it was promptly 
discontinued for fear of alarming the tenants and creating a fire 
panic. It does not seem probable that this building had been prop- 
erly inspected during construction, or properly tested on completion. 
It does not appear probable that deterioration due to ten months' 
occupancy could account for the evidence of defects disclosed by the 
slight and incomplete test applied. If the building was properly 
inspected and tested when finished, the conditions found indicate that 
the present rules and regulations for plumbing of the Building De- 
partment are wholly inadequate to insure permanent security. As a 
fact, however, the rules and regulations are in general well framed, 
and should insure sound work with proper inspection and supervision. 

The danger of alarming tenants by the application of the smoke 
test led me to abandon the attempt. I can state with confidence that 
a large percentage of tenements would show defects under such test. 
This opinion is based on many years' experience in the examination 
of buildings, where an inspection of the character of the plumbing is 
some guide to the defects which will be disclosed by the test. 

A few buildings were subjected to the peppermint test. Some 
showed evidence of leaks, and in some the test was inconclusive. In 
my opinion it is not a satisfactory test. I recommend that a smoke 



TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 323 

and peppermint or other chemical test be rigidly required on full com- 
pletion of new buildings. 

To test all of the old buildings for positive leaks would be an 
undertaking of great magnitude. The results would undoubtedly 
show a large percentage of buildings in which the pipes are not tight 
against the escape of drain air. This will apply with equal force to 
private dwellings and boarding houses throughout the city. 

CONDITION OF CELLARS 

The condition of the cellars of tenement buildings is of much 
sanitary importance, as the air from the cellar is distributed more 
or less through the building. About 23 per cent of the cellars 
examined were badly lighted and ventilated. This percentage will 
be found much larger in the old type of buildings. About 40 per 
cent have no provision for light at night. In the majority of cases 
the fuel or storage bins of the tenants are in the cellar. Lighted 
lamps or candles must be used when these are entered at night. 
Many of the bins are filled with household effects or wood, more or 
less inflammable. The ceilings of many of the old buildings are 
composed of boards nailed to the beams. In some cases there was 
no ceiling, the floor beams being exposed, and the air from the cellar 
could find ready access to the rooms above. In 48 per cent of the 
buildings examined, there are stairs from the cellar to the first floor 
hall. In modern buildings the dumb-waiter shafts extend to the 
cellar, forming a channel for conveying cellar air to the floors above. 
These shafts are generally not in clean condition. Sixty per cent of 
the public portion of the cellars examined were reported as clean or 
fairly clean. There appears to be reasonable effort made to keep 
them clean in buildings occupied by the better class of tenants. The 
character of the janitor and tenants determines the condition of 
cleanliness. In 18 per cent of the cellars foecal matter was found 
on the floor or in the bins. Seventy per cent of the cellars were 
reported dry, the remainder were reported damp. None were re- 
ported wet. There are, doubtless, many of the older buildings 
located on made land which are flooded at periods of excessive high 
tide. Twenty-five per cent of the cellars had earth floors with no 
covering of cement. Seventy per cent had cement or concrete. Five 
per cent had cobblestones or flagstones. In none was there evi- 
dence of waterproofing with asphalt or coal tar pitch. In 40 per 
cent of the cellars there were openings about the vertical lines of 
plumbing pipes, through which air from the cellar could be conveyed 
to the upper portion of the building. This emphasizes the necessity 
of security in the cellar drains previously referred to. In modern 



324 TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 

buildings the space around the pipes is generally sealed where they 
pass through the first floor. The present law requires fireproof 
cellar ceilings, a vast improvement over previous construction. The 
use of cellars for business purposes, residence, or storage of offensive 
or inflammable material is beyond the province of this examination, 
although of distinct sanitary significance. 



YARDS, AREAS, AND COURTS 

The front areas and window areas below street or yard level were 
generally found filled with more or less rubbish and appear to be 
seldom cleaned. The courts and light shafts of the older buildings 
are generally in foul condition. Many are fenced off or enclosed so 
that they can be entered only through cellar or basement windows ; 
these were especially foul. Nineteen per cent of the back yards ex- 
amined were reported in unclean condition. In 15 per cent of them 
foecal matter was reported. The condition of the yards is again a 
question of character of janitor and tenants. 

ROOFS 

The roofs of the buildings were reported free of rubbish in 91 per 
cent of the buildings inspected. Seventeen per cent were reported to 
contain foecal matter, although otherwise clean. The raised open 
platforms over the portion of the roof used where clothes are dried, 
placed to protect the roof from injury, make it difficult to clean 
beneath them, and much rubbish is generally found there. If re- 
moved, the roof's surface over these areas should be made with 
durable material which will not be injured by the passage of tenants 
using the clothes lines. 

CONCLUSION 

In conclusion it may be said that, with the exception of the pres- 
ent regulation relating to the fresh air inlet service, the rules and 
regulations of the Building Department should insure reasonably 
safe plumbing in tenement houses, provided the regulations are 
intelligently interpreted and rigidly enforced. 

There are some features of secondary importance which, in my 
opinion, could be improved, and, in general, the discretionary power 
of the department is greater than should be permitted to insure 
uniform work. 



TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 325 



BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF A SECTIONAL DIAGRAM SHOWING THE 
ARRANGEMENT OF PLUMBING IN A TYPICAL MODERN TENE- 
MENT HOUSE 

THE accompanying sectional diagram represents the general ar- 
rangement of plumbing in a tenement house of modern type. 

The house sewer is composed of earthenware or extra heavy cast- 
iron pipe, depending on the nature of the soil through which it passes. 
It connects with the street sewer and extends to within two feet of 
the front area wall of the building. At this point it connects with 
the house drain, composed of extra heavy oast-iron pipe. The house 
drain is provided with a running trap just inside of the front wall of 
the building, made accessible through a masonry pit, having a cover 
in the basement or cellar floor. Back of the house trap a fresh air 
inlet pipe connects with the main drain and extends to the outside 
air. Prior to 1900 the fresh air pipe terminated in a brick box built 
beneath the street sidewalk close to the curb. The box was provided 
with an iron grating set flush with the sidewalk. This is indicated 
on the diagram and marked " Former Fresh Air Inlet." 

In the spring of 1900, the Building Department prohibited the 
use of the curb inlet and required the use of an automatic device on 
the fresh air inlet, and advised that it be located, where possible, close 
to the front wall of the building. This is marked on the drawing 
" Present Fresh Air Inlet." 

The former fresh air inlet is in my opinion superior to an auto- 
matic device placed close to the building. 

The main drain, after entering the building, passes tinder the 
cellar floor, and is provided with "extra heavy" cast-iron branch 
connections to the soil and waste pipes, and leaders, court, yard, and 
area drains. All drainage and vent pipes within the building are 
generally composed of extra heavy cast-iron with calked metal lead 
joints. The rain-water drains are individually or collectively trapped. 
The soil and waste pipes are not trapped, but extend above the roof 
to allow the escape of air from the drains and to promote a circula- 
tion of air through the system of drains, aided by the entrance of 
fresh air through the fresh air inlet. Under certain conditions the 
current of air in the pipes may be reversed and air from the drains 
be discharged through the fresh air inlet. The open end of this 
latter pipe must therefore be considered a danger point to be well 
removed from the windows and doors of the building or from the 
intake of the heating system, if such is provided for the building. 



326 



TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 




TENEMENT HOUSE SANITATION 327 

All fixtures must drain to the soil, waste, or drain pipes. A soil 
pipe receives the drainage from water-closets, with or without other 
drainage. A waste pipe receives the drainage from fixtures other 
than water-closets. The water-closets are usually located as shown, 
in the centre of the building and open on the halls of the stair well. 
One closet is usually provided for two families. 

Each fixture is provided with a bend trap to prevent the escape 
of drain air to the building. 

One trap usually serves a set of two wash-tubs and the adjoining 
kitchen sink. 

To prevent the water seal of the traps from being siphoned by the 
discharge of the drainage from its own or other fixtures, each trap is 
provided with a trap vent pipe connecting with a vertical vent pipe 
extending and opening above the roof of the building. The portions 
of all vent pipes exposed to frost are enlarged to 4 inches to allow for 
the effect of the frost needles which form in the pipes and reduce 
their effective area in cold weather. 

The base of all vertical vent pipes are arranged to receive the 
wash from a fixture, in order to remove the scales of rust which fall 
from the inside of the pipe and which in time would otherwise collect 
in sufficient quantity to seal the pipe and render it inoperative. 

The total length of drainage and vent pipes conveying drain air 
within the building shown is about 800 feet. The total number of 
joints is about 400. 

In order to insure security in the joints and material of the pipes 
the entire system of pipes, called the " rough work," is required to 
be tested with water from the house trap to the level of the opening 
of the highest pipe above the roof. An equivalent test with air 
under 15 pounds pressure is also permitted. 

On completion of the work a peppermint or smoke test is required 
to test the security of the fixture connections, traps, and fixtures. 

If properly enforced, these tests should insure sound work. 



SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 

BY H. L. CAEGILL 



SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 



ASIDE from various social influences, the factors involved in the 
small house problem are sixfold, the cost of the dwelling, main- 
tenance, the cost of the lot, taxes, assessments, and transportation 
(including cost and time). Of these the cost of the dwelling and 
maintenance are constants, in any part of Greater New York where 
small homes can be built. The others are items of more or less 
variation in the different boroughs. 

On Manhattan Island the cost of land is prohibitive to the type 
of small house under consideration. It must be built, if at all, in 
the outlying boroughs. This condition immediately involves the 
question of transportation. 

Many tenement dwellers on Manhattan live within walking dis- 
tance of their work, and those whose employment is regular often 
select their place of residence with this in mind. Those who ride 
do so on a five-cent fare straight, or a ten-cent round trip or circuit 
between house and labor. As to time, undoubtedly a large majority 
of the riding number are well within a half -hour of their place of 
employment. Any conversation with wage-earners on the subject 
quickly brings out the importance which they put upon convenience 
of access to their work. To those whose hours are early and late an 
added thirty minutes at each end of the day is a serious matter. An 
added hour would be out of the question. Allowing for exceptional 
individuals and exceptional occupations, and taking the inclinations, 
habits, and necessities of wage-earners in the mass, it is safe to assume 
that three-quarters of an hour between house and work practically 
establishes the limit of residence. 

Not less important than the element of time in the question of 
transportation, to small house seekers, is the element of cost. The 
margin between income and outlay is very narrow, and every penny 
has to be considered, and is considered, especially by that thrifty 
class which seeks to become home owners. 

As soon as a worker on Manhattan takes up residence in any out- 
side borough, with the exception of the Bronx, he passes from a ten- 
cent circuit between house and work to a twenty-cent circuit at 
least. A ten -cent daily additional charge for the average of twenty- 

331 



332 SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 

six working days amounts to $2.60 per month. This sum, to those 
of small means, is no inconsiderable item, and in many cases might 
deter from residence outside of Manhattan if other economic con- 
siderations did not offset it. 

It must be kept in mind also that in numerous instances more 
than one member of the family is a wage-earner, and in such cases 
an increased proportionate part of the family income is therefore 
diverted from household purposes to car fares. Further, it often 
happens that the sum out of which the monthly rents are paid, or, in 
the case of purchase, the monthly instalments or sinking fund main- 
tained, is a total, representing contributions from each riding mem- 
ber of the family. Assuming that there were only two such riding 
and earning members, their regular joint transportation charge 
would be 15.20, exclusive of any incidental trips to Manhattan, 
which trips are morally sure to be taken; and $5.20 per month 
deducted from the earnings of such a household is no trifle. 

The factor of time in transportation as well as the cost is con- 
sidered specifically in connection with the analysis of other condi- 
tions governing in the various boroughs ; but first another element in 
the calculation has to be estimated. The time from points in the 
outside boroughs to initial points on Manhattan, as at the Harlem 
River, 34th Street Ferry, and others, is a matter of schedule and can 
be accurately determined. How long it would take for any given 
number of incomers to distribute themselves from those initial points 
to their places of work, on Manhattan, can only be a matter of con- 
jecture. Employment of some would be near their landing-places, 
that of others miles away. No exact data can be obtained on this 
point, but it must be taken into account. Keeping in mind, how- 
ever, the location of the various employment centres, and allowing 
for the tendency to select, so far as other conditions permit, a resi- 
dence in the outlying borough nearest to the place of labor, in Man- 
hattan, it seems safe to assume that the average time between the 
points of landing and the points of employment on Manhattan would 
be as follows : From the two extremes, the Harlem and South Ferry, 
20 minutes; from the Manhattan end of Brooklyn Bridge, 15 minutes; 
from 34th Street, nearer the centre of the city, 10 minutes. While 
this calculation will be maintained in the subsequent time estimates, 
it must be considered purely as an approximation. 

NEW YORK'S SMALL HOUSES 

Examination in the outlying boroughs shows that the number of 
small homes or of houses of four and six rooms is too inconsiderable 
to play much part in the general housing problem. Whenever such 



SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 333 

houses are found the rents governing the ordinary wooden dwellings 
range from $8 to $ 16. In the few instances where organized build- 
ing of such houses has been undertaken, the results have been very 
gratifying, as shown in the following illustrations. 

Some years ago the Hon. Seth Low built 18 brick houses at 
Monitor Street, Brooklyn. Of these 16 are one-family four-room 
dwellings, having a monthly rental of $13. They have always been 
occupied, and forthcoming vacancies are awaited by other applicants. 

Similar experience followed the construction of like houses by 
Mr. Alfred T. White, in connection with the Improved Dwelling 
Company's operation, on Warren Place, Brooklyn, in 1878. In 
addition to improved tenement dwellings and 8 houses of larger size, 
this company has 26 houses of six rooms each; these rent for 118.00 
per month and are always in demand, and it is significant that a large 
proportion of the tenants are employed in Manhattan. 

In 1885-1890 Mr. Hugo Funke erected, in the Borough of Queens, 
15 houses containing 6 to 8 rooms with basement. They were 
rented at $14.00 to $16.00 per month, were always in demand, and 
most of them have been sold to the tenants. 

TWO-STORY TWO-FAMILY HOUSE 

In one direction an interesting evolution in housing seems to be 
going on, namely the development of the two-story two-family house. 
A relatively large number of such dwellings are found in the various 
boroughs. Generally they are frame dwellings, but there is an in- 
creasing tendency to better construction in brick. They are usually 
arranged with five rooms downstairs and six rooms upstairs; the 
better class have all improvements, including set tubs and bath. The 
rentals range, in the wooden dwellings, for the first floor from $12 
to $15 per month; for the second floor, from $14 to $17. In the 
better class under consideration from $14 to $18 for the first floor ; 
$16 to $20 for the second floor. 

Not infrequently persons of small means have bought houses of 
this kind under various forms of instalment payment, with the expec- 
tation of applying the rent of one story to the extinguishment of the 
indebtedness. A risk is involved in this transaction, namely, the 
uncertainty attending all renting, and the consequent temptation of 
assuming a payment far beyond the means of the purchaser. 

APPLICATIONS FOR SMALL HOUSES FILED WITH BUILDING 

DEPARTMENT 

January 1 to December 1, 1900 

Investigation of the records of the Building Department showed 
that the following number of applications to build two-family dwell- 



334 SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 

ings and small single dwellings of limited cost had been filed between 
January 1 and December 1, 1900. 

The prices stated in the application do not represent the exact 
cost of the dwelling, but they furnish a reasonable approximation. 

Applications for two-family dwellings, $2000 to $4000 . .366 
These are subdivided through the various boroughs as follows : 

Bronx . . .* v v , 19 Brooklyn 368 

Queens 71 Richmond .... 8 

Applications for one-family dwellings, to cost $1500 or less . 303 
These are subdivided as follows : 

Bronx . . . . . 36 Queens . ... .111 

Brooklyn . . ' r F* -V 88 Richmond . ' . * , . 68 

Passing to specific examination, in the different boroughs, of the 
factors of variation, they present themselves in the following order : 
the cost of lots, assessments, transportation, taxes. Time and fares 
are shown from representative points in cheap land districts. 

THE BRONX 

Lots. The usual lot, 25 feet by 100 feet, in the neighborhoods 
where the restrictions would not prohibit the erection of small 
houses, ranges in price from |250 to $500. The former figure would 
govern only in the remoter sections where the street system is in- 
complete and where there are no sewer connections. The latter 
figure would occur where the street development was further ad- 
vanced. The section east of West Farms, toward Van Nest and 
West Chester, and certain areas near Williamsbridge will be brought 
within time limits when the rapid transit system is finished to Bronx 
Park. 

Assessments. The formation of this borough, where there is con- 
siderable outcropping of rock in many places, adds to the cost of all 
street work and especially to the putting in of sewers. The buyer 
of a lot beyond the line of public improvement might often be sub- 
ject to a disproportionate charge for assessments. It must be kept 
in mind that the unknown quantity in the matter of assessments is 
always the skeleton in the closet to the small buyer, and he takes 
any risk in this direction only with fear and trembling. 

Transportation. Transfer arrangements in force between the 
local electric systems and the East Side Elevated make an eight-cent 
fare, or sixteen-cent circuit, between this borough and Brooklyn 
Bridge. 

Time from Representative Points. From Union Port and West 



SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 335 

Chester to 129th Street, 40 minutes ; William-abridge to 129th Street, 
42 minutes ; West Farms to 129th Street, 32 minutes. To the above, 
as before indicated, must be added 20 minutes for average distribution 
in Manhattan. 

Tax Rate. $2.24 per hundred of valuation. 

BROOKLYN 

In Brooklyn the cheaper lots beyond the line of public improve- 
ments, but in many cases within time limits, would range from $200 
to $400. In some wards the usual subdivision makes the size of the 
lot 20 feet by 100 feet. Within the last two or three years an immense 
number of lots in this borough have been sold at auction on some in- 
stalment plan. The buyers in many cases have been persons of small 
means, but the purchase did not necessarily show intent to build. It 
was often a matter of speculation or investment. House building has 
been carried out on a great scale by land companies, and large and 
flourishing settlements have been created. In many cases the de- 
velopment has been along the line of fairly high-priced properties. 
In a few cases the effort has been to reach smaller buyers, but the 
restrictions, seldom or never less than $1500, have debarred the 
smallest home seeker. 

Assessments. The contour and formation in Brooklyn are very 
favorable to cheap street work and the minimum assessment. 

Transportation. All parts of the borough are served by elevated 
or surface roads, which deliver for a five-cent fare to the Manhattan 
end of Brooklyn Bridge. Connection is also made through the 
Broadway Ferry to 23d Street. 

Time from Various Points as Follows. From Gravesend to Man- 
hattan end of Bridge, 41 minutes ; New Utrecht Avenue and 69th 
Street to New York end of Bridge, 40 minutes ; Melbourne Street 
to New York end of Bridge, 35 minutes. 

Tax Rate. $2.32 per hundred of valuation. 

QUEENS 

In the Borough of Queens very cheap lots can be obtained, in 
the remoter sections as low as $200 or less. Within time limits lots 
can be bought from $350 to $400. 

Assessments. The contour of the borough is irregular, and the 
street and sewerage system is incomplete, but the cost of assessments 
is not excessive from any natural causes. 

Transportation. The direct geographical relation of this section 
to the centre of Manhattan, and its excellent service by the Long 



336 SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 

Island Railroad and the electric system, make it a matter of surprise 
that more small house buildings have not developed. Some parts 
are low and wet and semi-malarious, but residence can be selected 
free from these objections, which will be modified by the extension 
of the sewerage system. 

Although the time from outlying points in this borough to 
employment centres in Manhattan is less than from corresponding 
distances in other boroughs, an objection of great weight to wage- 
earners has been the necessity of passage by ferry. The man who 
must be at his work punctually at a given hour is keenly alive to 
the risks involved in ferry transit. Fog, ice, interruptions by pass- 
ing traffic, render the time of crossing a matter of great uncertainty ; 
and these interruptions may cause him serious embarrassment, even 
to the losing of his place. Undoubtedly, this question of ferriage 
accounts, in a large degree, for the indifference of small home seekers 
to this borough. Fortunately for its future, and for the possibilities 
of the small house, the avowed intentions of the Long Island Rail- 
road promise to do away with the inconvenience of the ferry. That 
corporation is submitting plans to the city government of New 
York for a tunnel from its terminus in Long Island City to some 
distributing point well within the limits of Manhattan. It is 
prepared to undertake this project as soon as it receives official 
approval. If this be done, remote points and very cheap lands in 
Queens will be brought within time limits, and the traffic delivered 
without break or transfer from such starting-points to the Manhat- 
tan terminus. 

The completion of the 60th Street Bridge will also add greatly 
to the ease of travel, and reduce the time from this borough. 

The following rates and schedules govern from various points : 
By the Long Island Railroad, from Flushing to 34th Street, New 
York, 30 minutes ; from Corona, 22 minutes. Monthly commuta- 
tion, Flushing $5.30; Corona, $ 4. 05. By electric service: Stein- 
way to New York via 34th Street, 31 minutes ; Steinway to New 
York via 92d Street, 23 minutes; from Woodside to New York 
(34th Street), 18 minutes. Round trip fare via electric service and 
ferry, 15 cents. To above schedules add 10 minutes for distribution 
on Manhattan. 

Tax Rate. $2.34 per hundred of valuation. 

RICHMOND 

On Staten Island can be found the cheapest lots within Greater 
New York. In some places the price is as low as $150 ; in a fairly 
good location they can be obtained at $300. 



SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 337 

Assessments. While completed improvements are limited in 
proportion to the undeveloped area, the formation and conditions 
are not unfavorable to reasonable development expenses in street 
work and the laying of sewers. 

Transportation. With much in its favor, the island would seem 
to be a natural choice for small home seekers ; as a matter of fact, 
that is not the case, except to some extent, for persons whose occu- 
pation is local, or who are employed in the industries on the adjacent 
shores of New Jersey. While the actual time to Manhattan from 
some possible residential points is not greater than from other 
suburbs, the long ferriage and the greater time required for dis- 
tribution after arrival, except to those whose occupation is near 
the ferry, deter most wage-earners from seeking residence in this 
borough. 

Time and Fares. Via Ferry and Rapid Transit Railway, 
Arlington to New York, 58 minutes ; Port Richmond to New York, 
36 minutes; Stapleton to New York, 30 minutes; Clifton to New 
York, 32 minutes. From corresponding distances by electric ser- 
vice from 10 to 20 minutes more. Time for distribution after 
reaching Manhattan, 20 minutes. To common points on Staten 
Island reached by a five-cent fare, tickets are interchangeable 
between the steam road and one of the electric lines. No com- 
mutation is made except to persons earning less than $7.00 per 
week, thus the cheapest round trip between Manhattan and Staten 
Island points to those with means enough to buy a home, is 20 
cents. 

Tax Rate. $2.22 per hundred of valuation. 



EXISTING FACILITIES FOR PROMOTING SMALL BUILDINGS 

Savings-banks and the larger financial institutions are not dis- 
posed to loan money on unrestricted property, which is generally the 
kind represented by the smallest house. The buyer, therefore, has 
to seek aid in other quarters. 

Building Companies. Many Building and Development Com- 
panies offer houses on very easy terms as to time and method of pay- 
ment, but, as a rule, their properties are too high in price for the 
buyers under consideration. Development companies generally 
demand a given percentage as first payment at time of purchase, 
and allow the balance to be extinguished by a series of monthly 
instalments. 

Sometimes such companies adopt a first and second mortgage 
plan, although this is more common between individuals. The per- 

VOL. I Z 



338 SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 

centage demanded on first payment, and the subsequent instalments, 
differ considerably in the practice of the various companies. One 
important concern makes the following offer : 

Price of house . . #4,000 

First payment, 10% '. .f' '* 400 

Deferred balance ..> >. V * * $3,600 
Monthly instalment . i f , 28 

Another company applies the first and second mortgage plan to 
cheaper properties : 

Cost of house and land * $1,800 

1st payment, upon which is given title to purchaser 4 200 

Unpaid balance . ... ... ' ' $1,600 

First mortgage 1,000 

Second mortgage, payable by instalments , v 600 
Cost of carrying first six months : 

Interest $48 

Payment on account principal at rate $7.50 per month . 45 

"$93 
Monthly cost of carrying purchase . v , ,*- .. .- . . $15.50 

In this instance the account is subject to semiannual readjust- 
ment and the interest charge on the second mortgage is reduced 
every six months proportionately to payments on account of prin- 
cipal. 

It should be observed, however, that in the case of higher valued 
property at $4000 the monthly instalment of $28 is only a trifle more 
than three-quarters of one per cent on the unpaid balance of 3600, 
whereas in the cheaper house the monthly cost of carrying purchase, 
$15.50, is practically one per cent on the primary deferred balance of 
$1600. This ratio can be accepted as governing very generally in 
the case of the cheapest properties sold on instalments. 

INSTALMENT CONTRACT 

When houses are sold on the basis of a first payment so small as 
not to cover the costs of foreclosure proceedings, title rarely passes to 
the purchaser, but some form of contract is executed which practically 
allows the seller to retain landlord rights. 

Many small houses, especially in the Boroughs of Brooklyn and 
Queens, have been bought under an instalment contract of the 
following general character : 

Upon the execution of the agreement a small first payment is 
made, and the buyer is allowed to occupy the premises, subject to a 
first mortgage thereon, which he assumes. The remaining unpaid 
balance is to be extinguished by monthly instalments with interest 



SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 339 

at six per cent upon the whole of the principal sum thereof remaining 
unpaid. 

The contract further provides that after an agreed sum has been 
paid in instalments the buyer shall receive a deed ; but previous to 
his receiving such deed any default in the instalments shall void the 
agreement and give the seller the right to possess the premises as 
landlord. When the deed is given the first mortgage is cancelled 
and a new mortgage and new instalment agreement made, the aggre- 
gate amount of which equals the remaining unpaid balance on the 
property. As sales under this form of contract are mostly made 
between individuals and as the character and standing of the buyer 
is a leading factor in the calculation, it is impossible to lay down an 
exact rule governing either the amount required in payment before 
title would be passed, or the monthly instalment ; but the latter is 
frequently approximate to the rental of the property. The proceed- 
ings in most cases would not be far from the following : 

Price of house . .... .' . . .... , . $2,000 

First payment . .' .' . " . . . . . 100 

Unpaid balance . . . . . ., . .. . $1,900 

Primary mortgage . . . . . , ; . 1,200 

Balance, subject to instalments . -.. ......; .." . . *,' 700 

Primary monthly cost of carrying : 

Interest on $1,200, 6% per annum . . . -V . $6.00 

Interest on 700 instalment balance at 6% per annum . . 3.50 

Instalment in extinguishment of principal (700) . , . 10.00 

$19.50 

This early monthly carrying account is seen to be a trifle more 
than 1 per cent of the total amount owed on the property. In 
this supposed case the title would probably pass, and the readjust- 
ment of the mortgages and instalment account be made after a 
payment of $300. 

BUILDER'S MORTGAGE 

In many cases the buyers of small houses negotiate directly with 
some private builder who has influence enough to obtain for the pur- 
chaser a loan on first mortgage, this being appropriated by himself. 
A second mortgage is then made directly to the builder. The first 
mortgage is for a definite term ; the second is subject to extinguish- 
ment by instalment. 

As this is a matter entirely of individual agreement, the amount 
which the builder will accept on second mortgage and the instal- 
ments thereon differ according to circumstances and the parties con- 
cerned ; but the cost to the buyer is generally about the same as by 
a purchase through contract. 



340 SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 



BUILDING AND LOAN ASSOCIATIONS 

Probably the largest number of home seekers of limited means 
avail themselves of the advantages offered by Building and Loan 
Associations. 

These societies are cooperative bodies in which the various 
members are stock or share holders and benefit pro rata to their hold- 
ing from the profits of the business done. The original intent of 
these associations was to promote the ownership of small homes by 
persons of small means. Expenses of administration and organiza- 
tion were reduced to a minimum, there being practically no salaried 
officials, and the business operations were openly discussed in the 
regular weekly or monthly meetings. In some cases the associations 
have departed from this original idea and practice, and their funds are 
loaned for purposes of large as well as small investments, and the 
business conducted under salaried administration. Many of the 
associations, however, continue along the line of action originally 
intended, and their resources are devoted almost entirely to the 
development of small properties. 

When one desires to borrow money of these societies he first be- 
comes a member by paying a small membership fee. He then sub- 
scribes for a given number of shares, the matured par value of which 
would be equal to the amount of the loan he desires to obtain. 
These shares are issued in various denominations, sometimes of 
$100, sometimes of $ 200 or more. If the shares were in denomina- 
tion of $200, and the borrower desired a loan of $1000, he would 
take out five shares. He would thus secure his advance, the society 
protecting itself through mortgage. His shares would have no 
value at the time of his application, but he would be charged an 
instalment fee on the principal, which, applied to them plus a pre- 
mium and rate of interest, would in a given term bring these shares 
to their estimated par value and cancel his indebtedness. In the 
meantime he would be participating in the profits of the society's 
general business pro rata to his holdings, thus reducing his actual 
interest charge. 

In the early practice of the associations the funds were disposed 
of at the meetings of the societies to those borrowers who bid the 
highest premium in excess of the regular interest charged for the use 
of the money. At present, the bidding for money is generally aban- 
doned, and in its place a fixed premium is adopted, sometimes paid 
in gross, sometimes in instalments. 

As a rule, not more than 75 per cent of the value of the 
property would be advanced on loan, but in some of the societies, 



SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 341 

especially the smaller ones, where the individual members are well 
known, the personal character and standing of the applicant would 
be allowed to count in his favor, and in extreme cases a larger percent- 
age might be advanced. 

The rate of interest and the amount of premium vary in the dif- 
ferent associations, the interest being either 6 or 5 per cent. In 
the latter case the lower interest rate is generally offset by a higher 
premium. 

In a given society, where the par value of shares is $100, the 
instalment on principal 50 cents, and premium 10 cents per share per 
month, the monthly cost to a borrower of $1000 would be as 
follows : 

Instalment on 10 shares, 50 cents per share . . . . $5.00 
Interest on $1000 at 6 per cent per annum . . . . 6.00 
Premium 10 shares, 10 cents per share * w . . 1.00 

$11.00 

Definite Instalment Plan. Under recent legislation cooperative 
savings institutions are allowed to advance money to members, re- 
payable in a definite number of instalments; and various societies 
have adopted this method, illustrations of which are given in the 
following tables of three different associations: 

1. Table showing monthly instalments required to repay an 
advance of $ 1000 in any period from 5 to 15 years: 

5 years or 60 months, $21.80 per month 

6 years or 72 months, 19.00 per month 

7 years or 84 months, 17.00 per month 

8 years or 96 months, 15.60 per month 

9 years or 108 months, 14.50 per month 

10 years or 120 months, 13.60 per month 

11 years or 132 months, 12.80 per month 

12 years or 144 months, 12.20 per month 

13 years or 156 months, 11.70 per month 

14 years or 168 months, 11.20 per month 

15 years or 180 months, 10.90 per month 

2. Showing monthly instalments required to repay $1000 in any 
period from 5 to 20 years: 

$21.60 for 60 months (5 years) 
16.80 for 84 months (7 years) 
15.00 for 102 months (8 years) 
13.20 for 120 months (10 years) 
12.60 for 132 months (11 years) 
11.40 for 156 months (13 years) 
10.80 for 180 months (15 years) 
9.60 for 240 months (20 years) 

3. Showing progress of a loan of $1000 toward extinction, pay- 
ments of $10 being made each month in advance: 



342 



SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN" 



TABLE 

SHOWING PROGRESS OF A LOAN OF $1000 TOWARD EXTINCTION, PAYMENTS OF 
BEING MADE EACH MONTH IN ADVANCE 



MONTH 


PAYMENTS HOW APPLIED 


STILL DUE 


MONTH 


PAYMENTS HOW APPLIED 


STILL DUE 


Interest 


Principal 


Interest 


Principal 


1 


$5.00 


$5.00 


$995.00 


46 


$3.74 


$6.26 


$740.90 


2 


4.98 


5.02 


989.98 


47 


3.70 


6.30 


734.60 


3 


4.95 


5.05 


984.93 


48 


3.67 


6.33 


728.27 


4 


4.92 


6.08 


978.85 


49 


3.64 


6.36 


721.91 


6 


4.89 


5.11 


973.74 


50 


3.61 


6.39 


715.52 


6 


4.87 


5.13 


968.61 


51 


3.58 


6.42 


709.10 


7 


4.84 


5.16 


963.45 


62 


3.55 


6.45 


702.65 


8 


4.82 


5.18 


958.27 


53 


3.51 


6.49 


696.16 


9 


4.79 


5.21 


953.06 


54 


3.48 


6.52 


689.64 


10 


4.77 


5.23 


947.83 


55 


3.45 


6.55 


683.09 


11 


4.74 


5.26 


942.57 


56 


3.42 


6.58 


676.51 


12 


4.71 


5.29 


937.28 


57 


3.38 


6.62 


669.89 


13 


4.69 


5.31 


931.97 


58 


3.35 


6.65 


663.24 


14 


4.66 


5.34 


926.63 


59 


3.32 


6.68 


656.56 


15 


4.63 


5.37 


921.26 


60 


3.28 


6.72 


649.84 


16 


4.61 


5.39 


915.87 


61 


3.25 


6.75 


643.09 


17 


4.58 


5.42 


910.45 


62 


3.22 


6.78 


636.31 


18 


4.55 


5.45 


905.00 


63 


3.18 


6.82 


629.49 


19 


4.53 


5.47 


899.53 


64 


3.15 


6.85 


622.64 


20 


4.50 


6.50 


894.03 


65 


3.11 


6.89 


615.75 


21 


4.47 


5.53 


888.50 


66 


3.08 


6.92 


608.83 


22 


4.44 


5.56 


882.94 


67 


3.04 


6.96 


601.87 


23 


4.41 


5.59 


877.35 


68 


3.01 


6.99 


594.88 


24 


4.39 


6.61 


871.74 


69 


2.97 


7.03 


587.85 


25 


4.36 


5.64 


866.10 


70 


2.94 


7.06 


580.79 


26 


4.33 


5.67 


860.43 


71 


2.90 


7.10 


573.69 


27 


4.30 


5.70 


854.73 


72 


2.87 


7.13 


566.56 


28 


4.27 


6.73 


849.00 


73 


2.83 


7.17 


559.39 


29 


4.24 


5.76 


843.24 


74 


2.80 


7.20 


552.10 


30 


4.22 


5.78 


837.46 


75 


2.76 


7.24 


544.95 


31 


4.19 


5.81 


831.65 


76 


2.72 


7.28 


637.67 


32 


4.16 


5.84 


825.81 


77 


2.69 


7.31 


630.36 


33 


4.13 


5.87 


819.94 


78 


2.65 


7.35 


523.01 


34 


4.10 


5.90 


814.04 


79 


2.62 


7.38 


615.63 


35 


4.07 


5.93 


808.11 


80 


2.58 


7.42 


508.21 


36 


4.04 


5.96 


802.15 


81 


2.64 


7.46 


500.75 


37 


4.01 


5.99 


796.16 


82 


2.50 


7.50 


493.25 


38 


3.98 


6.02 


790.14 


83 


2.47 


7.53 


485.72 


39 


3.95 


6.05 


784.09 


84 


2.43 


7.57 


478.15 


40 


3.92 


6.08 


778.01 


85 


2.39 


7.61 


470.54 


41 


3.89 


6.11 


771.90 


86 


2.35 


7.65 


462.89 


42 


3.86 


6.14 


765.76 


87 


2.31 


7.69 


455.20 


43 


3.83 


6.17 


759.59 


88 


2.28 


7.72 


447.48 


44 


3.80 


6.20 


753.39 


89 


2.24 


7.76 


439.72 


45 


3.77 


6.23 


747.16 











Recently an instalment mortgage has been offered by a sound 
financial institution, and to those who can make a fairly large first 
payment on the property, it offers an excellent way of proceeding : 



33 



SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 



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344 SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 

Average Monthly Carrying Cost. It was seen that under the 
contract plan or the second mortgage plan the cost of carrying the 
deferred payments was one per cent a month on such houses as are 
considered in this report. The foregoing tables, as well as the illus- 
tration of the usual Building and Loan Association method show that 
such cost is likely to be more rather than less, unless the term of pay- 
ment is considerably extended. If the limit were put at fifteen or 
twenty years, the monthly carrying cost could be considerably reduced. 
Unfortunately, however, the poor construction of cheap dwellings 
makes the life of the house so short that ten or twelve years is the 
longest practical term of instalment loans on such property. Beyond 
that time the deterioration of the structure would more than compen- 
sate for the rise in value of the land, in most cases, and the security 
would disappear. The small buyer then, under present conditions, 
must expect to pay not less than $10 per thousand or $1 per 
hundred per month on every dollar of his deferred instalment bal- 
ance. Under the instalment mortgage plan, shown in the table, 
this payment would be less than that amount in the later, but more 
than that amount in the earlier, years of the period. 

The following exhibit, based upon the cheapest lot likely to be 
selected and the cheapest house likely to be built, and subject to the 
foregoing calculation for monthly instalments, shows the total cost 
to the small house buyer and the monthly carrying account. 

Lot , / % . $250.00 

Frame house, 15' x 30', 4 rooms . . . , 1250.00 

$1500.00 

Cash payment . . . , . , . . $250.00 
Balance * . , , , . ;. ' ' . 1250.00 

$1500.00 

Monthly instalment, including interest on balance owed . . 12. 50 

Taxes 1.75 

Water tax and insurance . , * . \, . . .75 

Maintenance .50 

Extra cost for coal as compared with heating in tenements, and 
extra expenses for other household necessities through higher 
prices, as compared with prices in Manhattan . . . 1.00 
Extra cost of transportation, one person, 26 days . . . 2.60 
One person once a week . . . . . . . * .40 

$19.50 

The above calculation is based upon the present rate of taxation 
in the Borough of Brooklyn, and assumes a twenty-cent transporta- 
tion circuit. The variation in the Bronx, where the taxation is 
somewhat less, and where the sixteen -cent circuit prevails, would re- 
duce the carrying charges about $ 2 a month, but the price of a 
corresponding lot within time limits would be considerably greater 
and the total expense therefore more. 

As a matter of fact the average man, and especially the average 
woman, would not be likely to change from tenement life to so rude 



SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 345 

and inconvenient a dwelling as is indicated in the illustration accom- 
panying this report. 

The selection and building of their house is to persons of small 
means as serious a matter and often a subject of as careful considera- 
tion as is the erection of a palatial mansion to the man of wealth. It 
is the step of a lifetime, and the home seekers are rarely disposed to 
accept any makeshift, and very generally desire to realize in their 
dwelling many long-cherished ideas of comfort and convenience. 

The natural desire of appearing as well as their neighbors is, also, 
pretty sure to come into play, and the exterior of the house is taken 
into careful account according to their standards. The experience 
of builders shows that the multiplication of detail is apt to go on and 
on and swell the original estimate until the owner has assumed a load 
too heavy for him to carry with either comfort or safety. 

A fair conclusion is that the unaided individual on his own initia- 
tive should not undertake under present conditions to become the 
owner of a habitable house in a habitable location within the time 
limits of the labor centres on Manhattan, unless he can see his way 
clear to apply $20 a month toward the carrying out of the ex- 
periment. 

HOMEWOOD PLAN 

Among the plans of the many building companies, one deserves 
especial attention, for its novelty as well as excellence. About four 
years ago, the City and Suburban Homes Company purchased a tract 
of land in South Brooklyn and began a settlement called Home wood. 
The company at once assumed the task of improvement. Streets 
were laid out, graded, curbed, and macadamized. Sidewalks were 
laid and the Waring system for the disposal of sewage was intro- 
duced, all at the company's expense. Hedges were set out, sub- 
dividing the various lots. Restrictions preventing the sale of 
liquors and establishment of manufactures were enforced, and further 
restrictive clauses provided that no houses should be erected on the 
property unless approved by the company. In this way, unity of 
architectural effect was guaranteed. The construction was in brick 
and stucco, thus insuring a long life for the dwelling. 

Ten per cent of the purchase was paid in cash, and twenty years 
was allowed for the completion of the deferred payment ; this long 
term could be safely adopted on account of the wearing quality of 
the houses. Five per cent interest was charged, and the monthly in- 
stalments, including interest, were only $7.17 per thousand on the 
indebtedness. The title passed at once to the buyer. Foreclosure 
proceedings were necessary for the recovery of the property in case 
of default. 



346 SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 

Each buyer was obliged to take out a life insurance of two-thirds 
of the amount of his deferred payment, the premium on which was 
paid annually by the company and distributed to the house owner in 
monthly charges. While the type of house built at Home wood was 
too high in cost for most tenement dwellers, the essential features of 
the plan admit of being applied without regard to price. 

The Homewood plan has worked excellently in actual practice, 
the insurance feature especially proving of great use. In the case 
of a recent death, a settlement of the insurance wiped out nearly all 
the indebtedness to the company, leaving the family in possession of 
an estate worth more than 13000 and subject only to an incumbrance 
of less than |300. 

PHILADELPHIA 

Investigation made in Philadelphia, where small house building 
and home owning have assumed enormous proportions, shows that local 
conditions differ so widely, that the development there constitutes no 
precedent for expectations or calculations here. 

Six distinctive influences have worked in favor of the small 
house. 

First. The site of the city itself, an undulating plain, with con- 
tour and formation favorable to street development at reasonable cost, 
bounded by an extended navigable water front. 

From this water front, the city naturally and easily extended over 
vast areas of cheap adjacent land, and the small home followed the 
regular order of growth. 

Second. Dispersion of the population and small houses have also 
been considerably furthered by the manner in which the railroads 
have entered and traversed the city. 

As against the long parallels on Manhattan, the various steam 
lines spread out in almost fanlike radiation. Following them in- 
dustries were located on the surrounding low-priced lands. And 
around these manufacturing centres again the small homes sprang 
up in turn. 

Third. The homogeneous character of the population and their 
original habits of thrift and industry have played great part in the 
housing movement. 

As against the many-tongued population of New York, with its 
diverse national characteristics and instincts, Philadelphia has had a 
population practically of one speech, and moved by the home seeking 
impulse common to the Teutonic stock. The early Quaker influence 
and example also worked to the same end. The movement once 
started, naturally continued, favored by other local forces. 

Fourth. The transportation question is reduced to its lowest 



SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 347 

terms. A large number of wage-earners live close to their work, and 
those who ride do so on a ten-cent circuit and in short time. The 
street-car service has kept pace with the growth of the city and the 
dispersion of population, and, at present, a perfectly organized elec- 
tric system makes a five-cent rate to extreme points. The time to 
those sections of the city where the cheapest rents are found is less 
than thirty minutes. In that locality four and six room houses can be 
obtained from $8 to $10 per month, in more desirable locations at 
from $12 to $14. Within 25 minutes of the City Hall new four-room 
houses 14 feet x 28 feet with heater in the cellar and bath are offered 
at a rental of $12 per month, and are for sale at $1500. 

In the same neighborhood new six-room houses 16 feet x 40 feet, 
with heater and bath and built under provisions of the new code, are 
offered at a rental of $16 per month and are for sale at $2800. 

Fifth. Building and Loan Associations. 

While the building and loan association method is not peculiar to 
Philadelphia, its results there have been so great as to be distinctive. 
Indeed, so widespread has been the operation of these societies that it 
is common to say that building and loan associations have made the 
Philadelphia small home. It might be said, on the other hand, that 
the Philadelphia small home seeker has made the building and loan 
associations. In truth, there has been a great deal of reciprocal action. 
The opportunity and demand existed for such cooperative economics, 
and the societies and associations met the opportunity and responded 
to the demand as nothing else could have done on the same scale. 

Sixth. Among the causes which have operated with great effect, 
in the small house system of Philadelphia, is one often overlooked 
in considerations of the subject by outside observers, but which de- 
serves special attention ; namely, the local custom of ground rents. 
These must be carefully distinguished from the usual ground lease 
that is common in many places. The latter is made for a specific 
term, often with covenants for renewals, and with various stipula- 
tions relative to the buildings upon the land. The title remains in 
the hands of the landlord or grantor. 

The Pennsylvania ground rents differ essentially from such an 
agreement. The title passes, in effect, to the grantee. The Inden- 
ture declares that if the grantee pays the yearly rent, or extinguishes 
the same and taxes, and performs the other covenants, he may for- 
ever hold and enjoy the premises. The grantee also has the right to 
make repayment of the principal sum at will, but that principal 
cannot be demanded by the grantor. The interest on the indebted- 
ness is placed at 6 per cent, generally paid semiannually. On de- 
fault of the specified rent or interest the grantor has the right to 
distrain for the amount in arrear. The grantee waives his usual 



348 SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 

exemption rights. In case of such default the grantor may also sell 
the property to recover the arrearage of interest or he may enter and 
repossess ; such proceedings, however, are uncommon, the arrearage 
being usually collected through distress upon household goods of 
whoever is in possession of the premises. In the conveyancing by 
ground rent only one form of instrument, called the Ground Rent 
Deed, is executed. Two copies are made, only one of which is re- 
corded. One copy is held by the seller as evidence of indebtedness 
to him, and the other is held by the purchaser as being his deed to 
the title. Originally irredeemable ground rents were made, but 
have been prohibited by legislation. Trust companies are not al- 
lowed to invest their funds in these securities unless under special 
provision of the will or deed of trust ; therefore, transactions of this 
nature are mostly between individuals. 

It is evident that this is a method greatly in favor of the bor- 
rower and especially useful to the class of small home seekers. 
Originally the amounts loaned on ground rents were based pretty 
carefully upon the value of the land alone, but in the course of time 
there has been an increasing tendency in the making of advances to 
consider the valuation of the improvements as well. The including 
of the value of the buildings has led to an increase in the amount of 
the loan, and this in turn has brought about a series of reciprocal 
relations between land owner, builder, and buyer, of great importance. 

In many cases the owner of a large amount of real estate is also 
a man with capital. He is prepared to loan money and desires to 
sell lots. The builder buys his lots and at the same time borrows 
a sum of money as a building fund, the whole covered by a ground 
rent on the improved property, this being a first lien, taking prece- 
dence over all other claims. After the builder completes his opera- 
tions the buyer by the payment of a small amount in cash obtains 
the house subject to the ground rent and a second mortgage. At 
this point the Building and Loan Associations often come into the 
transaction, as the second mortgage is frequently obtained of them. 

In case of a house costing $1500, the proceeding might be as 
follows : ground rent $900 ; cash payment demanded $600. If the 
buyer had accumulated $400, he would be compelled to borrow on 
second mortgage only $200 more. Assuming that mortgage to be 
obtained from a Building and Loan Association, the monthly fixed 
charges on account of purchase would be as follows : 

Interest on ground rent, $900 at 6 % per annum . * $5.40 

On account of second mortgage of $200: 

Payment on principal, 2 shares, Building and Loan, $100 each, 50 

cents per share . 1.00 

Interest on same at 6 % per annum ..... V; 1-00 

$7.40 



SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 349 

At the end of about twelve years the Building and Loan shares 
would probably mature, and after that time there would remain only 
the monthly interest account of $5.40. 

ORGANIZED CAPITAL 

Up to the present time organized capital in New York has not 
engaged in the promotion of small house building, that is to say 
cheap houses of four or five rooms, on anything like the scale in 
which it has engaged in the development of higher class properties. 

Corresponding effort and outlay made in this field, if carefully 
considered and well adapted, would open " a door of hope " to many 
tenement dwellers and, no doubt, offer a fair return on investment. 

The cost of construction, of course, can be accurately determined. 
Acreages cheap enough for the purpose are obtainable within time 
limits, and larger and cheaper acreages will be brought within such 
limits when the contemplated extensions in the transportation sys- 
tem are completed. 

As to the response of tenement dwellers to the experiment, it 
must be conceded that only an unknown percentage of them could 
or would become buyers or renters of such houses. On the other 
hand, the tenement population is so vast that if only a small propor- 
tion of the total number responded, the actual numbers of such pro- 
portion might be very large, and in any event would represent the 
best selection in the way of thrift and character. 

In addition to making much easier terms and conditions to the 
buyer than are possible for the individual to obtain on his own 
account, development through organized communities involves many 
collateral advantages in the way of shops, schools, and social sur- 
roundings. These remove the solitude and inconvenience dreaded 
by many. Systematic improvements could also be assumed and car- 
ried out by the company and the assessment charge distributed 
through instalment payment. 

In organized effort the best results would come through the 
simultaneous development of a settlement of not less than one hun- 
dred homes. The houses could be most economically constructed 
if designed as groups and not as separate units. They should be 
built in brick instead of wood with the use of first-class materials 
throughout, to insure the longest term of life in the dwelling, and 
to reduce the cost of maintenance to a minimum. 

A scheme represented by the following estimates and plans would 
contemplate the building of 322 one and one-half story houses, of 
an average size of 15 feet x 30 feet, occupying a lot 100 feet deep, 
having a plot of ground 10 feet x 15 feet in front, and a garden 
15 feet x 50 feet in the rear. 







3 

;it 

(1 
i 



SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 351 

The construction assumes groups of 13 houses separated from 
each other by party walls. The houses, too, have a cellar ; on the 
ground floor an entrance hall, parlor, and kitchen ; upstairs, a large 
bedroom, two small bedrooms, a bath-room and water-closet. The 
walls to be 12 inches and the party walls 8 inches, the former furred 
with terra-cotta blocks. To be plastered throughout, except in the 
cellar ; to have slate roofs and hard finish, Georgia pine trim ; to 
have fixed tubs and sinks in the kitchen ; the upper rooms to be 
heated from a hot air jacket on the range. 

The life of such a house, in connection with the natural rise of 
property in organized settlements, would justify applying to the con- 
tract of purchase the long term 20-year instalment period of the 
City and Suburban Homes Company. If the Homewood Plan were 
adopted, a home of this character at the estimated cost could be 
obtained on a cash payment of $157, and a total monthly carrying 
account not exceeding $16.50. If these houses were rented on a 10 
per cent basis on cost, the monthly rental would be only $13. 

The entire cost of a settlement as described, based upon careful 
estimates, would be as follows : 

Land, 15 acres at $2,500 per acre . . . . . ' . ' . $37,500 
Grading, opening up of streets, laying wooden sidewalks, etc. . 10,000 
Sewage disposal plant, including 5000 feet of sewering, house con- 
nections, land for disposal, etc. . . . . . . . 10,000 

Fences . . ^ . : . . 7,500 

Cost of buildings . . . . , . , ... 435,000 

Lighting, including piping and fixtures . . . . .' . 8,000 

Total cost of land and improvements . ... '>... $508,000 
or $1,577.64 per house. 

SOCIAL CONSIDERATIONS 

In addition to the economic factors, the moral and social forces 
operating in the small house problem must not be overlooked. These 
involve questions of character, of habit, nationality, and of many 
other complex influences entering into the life of city dwellers. 
Taking the mass of the tenement population on Manhattan, it must 
be conceded that habit and predisposition incline them rather to 
the island tenement than to the single home in the other boroughs. 
The excitements, the amusements, the conveniences of marketing 
and shopping, religious and political affiliations, social ties, and many 
other matters make up a total which resolves itself into an instinc- 
tive liking for the conditions which prevail on Manhattan alone. 

A striking illustration of this is seen at the end of every work- 
ing day at a manufactory near the 14th Street Ferry in Hoboken. 
Within five minutes' walk of the place are excellent tenements with 
abundant light and air, and more rooms and better accommodations 



352 SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 

by far, than are found at corresponding rents in Manhattan ; but 
when the three hundred employees disperse at night, fifty per cent 
of them promptly take the ferry and return to New York, drawn by 
the resistless magnetism of a great city. 

National influences to a considerable extent counteract dispersion 
from Manhattan. On the island communities are largely grouped 
on national lines, and the removal of any considerable number could 
only be effected by the substitution of a similar community settle- 
ment in another borough. 

The tenement also meets the disposition of many to shirk re- 
sponsibility. House ownership means, not only some accumulation 
through thrift and self-denial, but it involves a constant amount 
of forethought and great steadiness of purpose. The migratory 
necessities of some occupations also prohibit fixed residence. 

On the other hand, there are powerful forces always working in 
favor of the separate home and against centralization. And it is, no 
doubt, true that much of the indifference to separate home life and 
ownership springs largely from the fact that the hope and expecta- 
tion of it has never entered the mind of the vast majority of tene- 
ment dwellers. If such hope were aroused by the presentation of 
some fairly easy method, it would, no doubt, awaken in thousands 
the natural, though latent, home seeking impulse, which once called 
into play is pretty sure to become an absorbing passion. The testi- 
mony of small house owners themselves, the experience of real estate 
agents, and of Building and Loan Associations, and of all familiar with 
the question, show, in the great majority of cases, that, after the 
purchase of a home is once made, no self-sacrifice is thought too 
great to maintain it. 

In spite of distracting influences the qualities of thrift, ambition, 
industry, and temperance legitimately make for the home, which is 
often the goal of their efforts, and wherever these are found there 
will be found a goodly percentage of home seeking. Two great 
instincts also operate to the same end. One is the instinct of woman 
for her own abiding place, the other the love of children. 

Two years ago an engineer of one of the great buildings in the 
city came to the president of a development company to buy a house. 
In the course of the interview he used these words : " I do not care 
for this so much on my own account. My wife and myself are very 
comfortable in our present quarters, we have many conveniences, and 
I am near my work ; but every day of their lives my children see 
things they ought not to see and hear things they ought not to hear." 
That man voiced the feeling of thousands, who realize that at the 
best the tenement is a dubious place for childhood, which can only 
find wholesome rootage and natural growth in the private home. 



SMALL HOUSES FOR WORKING-MEN 353 

CONCLUSIONS 

Consideration of all the facts in the matter of separate housing 
for small wage-earners in the Greater New York leads to the follow- 
ing twofold conclusion : 

First. From the topographical situation, from the strong predis- 
position to tenement life already existing, from the heterogeneous 
character of the population tending to group itself in neighbor- 
hoods on national lines, from the influence of capital invested in 
tenement structures, there will continue to exist for an indefinite 
period, especially on Manhattan Island, a large and more or less con- 
gested tenement population. The conditions of this population 
will demand the careful and humane observation of public-spirited 
citizens and the wisest legislative regulation. 

Second. Following the development of transportation facilities 
and the bringing of cheap land areas within time limits, there will be 
a gradually increasing dispersion, of the smaller wage-earning popu- 
lation into the outlying boroughs. If the tendency to erect tene- 
ment houses in these districts is checked in time, such a development 
will create a demand for small houses. Following this demand, 
capital will erect such dwellings both for sale and rent. The re- 
turns on this capital, while not likely to be so great as in more 
speculative operations, should be as large and as constant as in the 
higher class of standard investments. 



TOL. I 2 A 



FINANCIAL ASPECTS OP KECENT TENEMENT 
HOUSE OPERATIONS IN NEW YORK 

BY ELGIN R. L. GOULD 



FINANCIAL ASPECTS OF RECENT TENEMENT 
HOUSE OPERATIONS IN NEW YORK 



IN carrying out the following inquiry it has not been possible, 
within the time limit at my disposal, to make an extended investi- 
gation into the returns from all classes of tenement property in this 
city. Tenement houses constructed many years ago have changed 
hands so often that a full knowledge of their present financial situ- 
ation would not be pertinent to the purpose of this inquiry. The 
vital point is not, do old tenement buildings, erected at a time when 
building laws were much less stringent and when building cost was 
much cheaper than to-day, pay ; but, what returns are received on 
buildings constructed under present conditions. For the purpose of 
answering this question satisfactorily, I have found it necessary to 
present the information under two heads. First, buildings built by 
private parties for speculation and sale, generally with building 
loans ; second, model tenements built for investment and with the 
idea of furnishing a maximum of living advantages to tenants. 

Tenements built for Speculation. The neighborhood where such 
buildings are most often found is on the East Side, below 14th 
Street and east of the Bowery. These tenements are usually six 
stories high and have four families to a floor two four-room apart- 
ments in front, and two three-room apartments in the rear, built on 
the ordinary 25 x 100 foot lot. The first floor is usually kept well 
above the curb in order to allow stores to be introduced on either 
side of the entrance stoop in the basement. 

The architect's duties end with the drawing, filing, and obtaining 
the approval of the department of the quarter-inch scale plans. The 
owner, who is the builder, personally superintends the work of con- 
struction, buying the bricks, sand, lime, cement, lumber, etc. The 
laying of the brick is given by him to a " lumper " at so much per 
thousand, the owner furnishing all the materials. So also with 
the rough framing. The owner buys the timber and the framer 
sets the beams and partitions. The trim, doors, closets, etc., are set 
in the same way. Should there be any ornamental terra-cotta on 

357 



358 FINANCIAL ASPECTS 

the front, which is quite likely, the terra-cotta firm obtaining the 
work makes the details. The blue-stone or limestone contractors, 
as the case may be, detail the front entrance and stoop. The gal- 
vanized iron cornice is laid out full size from the architect's quarter- 
inch scale drawing, by the galvanized iron contractor, and built 
according to stock mouldings and ornaments as far as possible. 
Practically every item of extra expense is thus saved by the owner. 
There are no general contractor's commissions or architect's fees to 
pay. The owner generally deals directly with the supply people. 
When the work is completed, the final bills of all the contractors are 
shaved in order to make quick settlements. 

Of course, the work throughout is done as cheaply as possible. 
Every penny saved means so much more profit to the builder, as he 
is not a holder for investment, but builds to sell as soon as the build- 
ing is completed, or even before completion, should he be fortunate 
enough. Such a tenement, built on an inside lot, would cost at the 
present time from 116,000 to $19,000. The cost of a lot varies, let 
us say, from 115,000 to $18,000. The total investment would 
therefore amount to about $34,000. Rentals are fixed so that if 
the building keeps full and all rents are collected, from 12 to 12 J 
per cent gross would be received. 

The building being flimsily built and the class of people living in 
it being somewhat destructive, when subject only to the poor manage- 
ment which ordinarily prevails, the item of repairs at the end of the 
year is large. Removals are frequent, as a slight inducement offered 
by a rival owner will cause a tenant to pack up and go, particularly 
to a new building just completed. Although the gross income seems 
large, at the end of the year the losses caused by removals, vacancies, 
repairs, etc., cut the earnings down so that an owner who can figure 
7 or 8 per cent on his investment, is lucky. The average is probably 
more like 6^ to 7 per cent. This is why the builder sells as quickly 
as he can, being only too glad to clear a substantial sum for his five 
or six months' work, as it seldom takes longer than that to put up a 
tenement like the one described. 

In order to be able to present a reasonably accurate idea of the 
earnings on tenement houses built on ordinary city lots, I have 
sought and obtained information covering fifty-seven houses located 
on the upper middle and lower west and east sides of Manhattan 
Island, built since January 1, 1897. Twenty-nine of the fifty-seven 
tenement houses are of six stories, and twenty-eight of five stories. 
Some of them have much better dispositions for light and air than 
can be found in most of the tenements built previous to 1896. A 
few of them are provided with steam heat, but most of them have 
four families to the floor, public water-closets on each landing, and 



FINANCIAL ASPECTS 359 

no bathing facilities of any kind. Ranges with water backs, sink, 
dresser, and wash-tubs are supplied to each family. Not often 
is there an adequate provision for closets or wardrobes. As a 
rule, a cheap mantel with a cheaper mirror decorates the so-called 
parlor. 

For these fifty-seven houses I have obtained what I believe to be 
pretty accurate figures as to cost of buildings, cost of land, gross pos- 
sible rental, number of vacancies in apartments, wages paid to care- 
takers, and assessed valuation of the property. In endeavoring to 
ascertain the percentual return to the owner upon his investment, I 
have first of all deducted from the gross possible rental 12J per cent 
for vacancies and losses through non-payment of rent. This pro- 
portion would not be large enough if old tenements of the ordinary 
type were being considered, but I think it is fair to calculate on the 
basis of 12-J per cent for present purposes, especially as the actual 
vacancies found when the inspections were made showed only about 
half this proportion. Visitation occurred, too, during the summer 
months, when there is likely to be a larger proportion of vacancies 
than during the remaining seasons of the year. From the net rental 
I have deducted 37J per cent for repairs, taxes, water-rates, insur- 
ance, wages of janitor, etc. I have then deducted 10 per cent from 
the balance to represent depreciation. The results show that after 
these disbursements, if the owner places a mortgage to the amount 
of 60 per cent of the entire cost of his property, and pays 5 per cent 
interest on his mortgage, the average return to him I am referring 
now to the average of these fifty-seven houses under consideration 
stands about 7.03 per cent. If no mortgage be placed upon the 
property, the average return would be 5.81 per cent. 

I believe that the above figures are as nearly accurate as they can 
be stated. A liberal estimate has been made as regards cost of man- 
agement, and certainly, if anything, the amount of money which 
could be obtained on mortgage at 5 per cent interest has been under- 
stated. In all probability, a loan of 70 per cent could be obtained 
on practically all of these buildings at 5 per cent interest, and if 
this were done, the return on the owner's equity would be larger. 
Perhaps I should state that twenty-six out of the fifty-seven build- 
ings had stores either in the basement or on the ground floor. The 
percentage of total possible rental from stores of the total possible 
rental on the building, was about 10 per cent. Below appears a 
table giving in detail the figures for twenty-five of the fifty-seven 
tenement houses investigated. They are fairly representative of 
the whole. 



360 



FINANCIAL ASPECTS 




FINANCIAL ASPECTS 



361 



t> 
E A 

* H 



<N <7^ <N <N rH rH 



12 

^ t 



|SS^^?55 
l ( 



rHi-HCOOSi 'OIO' ' 






S$* 

sll 




362 



FINANCIAL ASPECTS 



Model Tenements. Can the tenement house problem be solved 
by ordinary economic effort ? This is a question of far-reaching 
importance, and happily experience shows that well- organized opera- 
tions along the line of model tenement construction have paid and 
are to-day paying a reasonable commercial profit. I have published 
elsewhere (see report to Commissioner of Labor, Washington, D.C., 
1895) a table compiled from personal investigation, showing the rates 
of dividend paid by thirty-four commercial and sixteen semi-philan- 
thropic enterprises for promoting improved housing in American and 
European cities. I have recently verified this table in large part, 
and there has been no material deviation from the results there shown. 

A distinction between the commercial and semi-philanthropic 
enterprises hinges on fixing a limit of the rate of dividends to be 
distributed to shareholders, the former having no limit and the lat- 
ter fixing the limitation at 4 or 5 per cent. Nineteen of the 
improved housing companies classed as commercial enterprises 
were engaged in the business of providing model tenements and 
renting them at approximately the same figures as those charged for 
accommodations in the neighborhood. Only four out of these nine- 
teen companies have paid their stockholders less than 4 per cent. 
Ten out of fifteen semi-philanthropic housing associations were 
engaged in providing model tenements, and out of the ten five 
earned between 4 and 4J per cent. Three of the remaining five 
limited their dividends to 3J per cent. In connection with all the 
enterprises cited above, a surplus is set aside. This analysis of 
economic experience should be considered satisfactory when one 
considers that these enterprises have been carried on in various 
European and American cities and under quite dissimilar conditions 
as to wage-earning power of the laboring population. The names of 
these companies and the dividends paid by them appear below. 

TABLE 

SHOWING KATES OP DIVIDENDS PAID BY COMMERCIAL AND SEMI-PHILANTHROPIC 
ENTERPRISES FOR PROMOTING IMPROVED HOUSING IN AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN 
CITIES CONTAINING 100,000 INHABITANTS AND UPWARD 



NAME OF ENTERPRISE 


KIND OF HOUSES 


DIVIDENDS 
PAID 


COMMERCIAL 






Improved Dwellings Co., Brooklyn, N.Y. * 


Tenements 


5 to 6 


Astral Apartments, Brooklyn, N.Y. 


Tenements 


2 


Improved Dwellings Association, New York, N.Y. 


Tenements 


5 


Boston Cooperative Building Co., Boston, Mass. 


Tenements 


5 to 6 


Robert Treat Paine' s Co., Boston, Mass. . 


Small houses 


6 


Improved Industrial Dwellings Co., London, England 


Tenements 


5 


Artisans', Laborers', & General Dwellings Company, Lon- 


Tenements and 




don, England ........ 


small houses 


5 



FINANCIAL ASPECTS 



363 



NAME OF ENTERPRISE 


KIND OF HOUSES 


DIVIDENDS 
PAID 


COMMERCIAL 






Metropolitan Association for Improving the Dwellings of 






the Industrious Classes, London, England . 


Tenements 


41 


East End Dwelling Co., London, England . . , . :> 


Tenements 


5 


Tenement Dwellings Co 


Tenements and 






small houses 


5 


Improved Industrial Co., Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England 


Tenements 


4 (approx.) 


Rosemount Association for Providing Dwellings for 






Working People, Edinburgh, Scotland 


Tenements 


6 


Edinburgh Association for Improving the Dwellings of 






the Poor, Edinburgh, Scotland .... 


Tenements 


31 


Well Court, Model Tenements, Edinburgh, Scotland 


Tenements 


3 


Pilrig Model Dwellings, Edinburgh, Scotland . 


Small houses 


5 


Tenement Dwelling Company, Rouen, France 


Tenements 


2.5 


Discount Bank of Paris, Paris, France .... 


Small houses 


41 to 6 


Havre Workingmen's Dwellings Co., Havre, France 


Small houses 


4 


"The Cottage," Lyons, France ..... 


Small houses 


5 


Rouen Cheap Dwellings Co., Rouen, France . 


Small houses 


3 




Small houses 


5 


Verviers Workmen's Dwelling Co., Venders, Belgium . 


Small houses 


4 


Cooperative Building Association, Dresden, Germany 


Tenements 


4 


Berlin Building Association, Berlin, Germany . 


Small houses 


5 


German People's Building Co., Berlin, Germany 


Small houses 


5 


Savings and Building Society, Hanover, Germany . . 


Tenements 


4 


Barmen Workmen's Dwelling Co., Barmen, Germany 


Small houses 


4 


Amsterdam Association for Building Laborers' Dwell- 






ings, Amsterdam, Holland ...... 


Tenements 


5 


Society for Improving the Condition of the Working 






Classes, Amsterdam, Holland . ... 


Tenements 


5 


Workingmen's Building Society, Copenhagen, Denmark 


Small houses 


4 


St. Erik Building Co., Stockholm, Sweden 


Tenements 


5 


Workmen's Building Society, Gothenburg, Sweden 


Small houses 


gi 


Gothenburg Co. for Housing Working People, Gothen- 






burg, Sweden .V 


Small houses 


5 


SEMI-PHILANTHROPIC 






Tenement House Building Co., New York, N.Y. 


Tenements 


4 


Improved Dwellings Association, Boston, Mass. 


Tenements 


4 


Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Co., London, Eng- 






land .......... 


Tenements 


4 


Glasgow Workmen's Dwellings Co., Glasgow, Scotland 


Tenements 




Healthy Dwellings Co., Marseilles, France . . . 


Tenements 


31 


Cheap Dwellings Co., Lyons, France .... 


Tenements 


4 


Workingmen's Dwellings Co., of Passy Auteuil, Paris, 






France . . 


Small houses 


11 to 2J 


PHILANTHROPIC 






Brussels Workingmen's Dwellings Co., Brussels, Belgium 
Tenement Dwellings Co., Frankfort-on-the-Main, Ger- 


Small houses 


2 


many .... 


Tenements 


31 


Berlin Mutual Building Co., Berlin, Germany . 


Tenements 


4* 


St. John's Society, Dresden, Germany .... 
Cooperative Building Co., Miinchen-Gladbach, Germany 


Tenements 
Small houses 


8 


Mulhouse Workingmen's Dwellings Co., Mulhouse, Ger- 




2 


many 


Small houses 


4 


Stockholm Laborers' Dwellings Co., Stockholm, Sweden 


Tenements 


4 


Gothenburg Savings-bank, Gothenburg, Sweden 


Small houses 


4 



364 FINANCIAL ASPECTS 

It must also be remembered that model tenements, being well 
built, last much longer than the ordinary structure, and that build- 
ings of this kind, yielding 4 per cent with a proper depreciation 
fund, should be considered a much safer and more permanent invest- 
ment than the ordinary tenement, which has been built for specula- 
tion and sale, and which yields nearly double the return. It must 
also be borne in mind that model tenements, being equipped with 
better facilities for healthful and comfortable living, are always in a 
favorable position to compete for patronage, and thus receipts from 
rentals are liable to be surer than in tenements of the other sort. 

What has been the experience of model tenements built in New 
York ? This question is even more pertinent to our inquiry than an 
analysis of general economic experience in which other large cities 
figure. The pioneer in model tenement improvement in the Ameri- 
can metropolis is Mr. Alfred T. White, who, in 1878, built the Tower 
Buildings in Brooklyn. These were followed by the Riverside Build- 
ings, which were constructed in 1890. Mr. White's experience has 
been entirely satisfactory, his investment netting him between 5 
and 6 per cent. The Tower Buildings were built at a time when 
building cost was low. The Riverside Buildings were constructed 
when building cost had attained almost the highest figure during a 
score of years. The return, therefore, which Mr. White receives 
may be considered to represent a normal condition. 

The Improved Dwellings Association, of which Mr. W. Bayard 
Cutting is president, has also had a successful financial career. Five 
per cent dividends have been paid each year upon its share capital of 
about $285,000 since 1882, when the buildings were opened. In 
addition to the payment of these dividends, three hundred shares of 
the association's stock have been bought in, several thousand dollars 
have been expended for betterments, and a surplus of nearly $8000 
has been accumulated. 

The model tenement erected by Mr. D. O. Mills, adjoining the 
Mills Hotel No. 1, has paid about 5 per cent net return without 
allowing for depreciation. 

The experience of the Astral Apartments in Brooklyn and the 
buildings of the Tenement House Building Company in New York 
has not been entirely satisfactory from the financial point of view, 
but there are special reasons in both cases for these results. 

The City and Suburban Homes Company of New York is the 
largest and most important of the agencies for improved housing in 
the city. Its investments in model tenements to date amount to a 
little over a million and a half, and plans are being matured to invest 
at least a million more. This company has already completed two 
groups of buildings, one on West 68th and 69th Streets, between 



FINANCIAL ASPECTS 365 

Amsterdam and West End Avenues, covering nineteen city lots, and 
one on First Avenue, between 64th and 65th Streets, covering eight 
city lots. Two other buildings now in process of construction, on 
East 64th and 65th Streets, immediately adjoining the First Avenue 
buildings, cover eight and a half city lots. The completed buildings 
furnish accommodations for 521 families. The new buildings when 
completed will add 190 apartments, and a model tenement designed 
for colored people on the north side of 62d Street near Amsterdam 
Avenue will furnish accommodations for about fifty families. 

In striking contrast to the dark, ill-ventilated, overcrowded 
human beehives which exist all over the city, are the model build- 
ings of the City and Suburban Homes Company. The ground unit 
for the double-decker is a lot 25 by 100 feet. The unit of the City 
and Suburban Homes Company's buildings is a frontage of either 50 
or 100 feet. In the centre of each unit of 100 feet is a large-sized 
court ventilated at the bottom, 30 feet square, and between two 100 
feet units is a recessed court 18 feet wide and about 65 feet in length. 
These apartments are nowhere more than two rooms deep and are 
lighted and ventilated from two sides. There is not a single dark 
room or even a dim room in any of the buildings. Moreover, every 
apartment is a complete home in itself, separated from other apart- 
ments by deafened partitions and containing a water-closet for 
the exclusive use of the family, within the dwellings, stationary 
wash-tubs and sink, hot water supplied from a central boiler system, 
clothes closets and dressers, mantels, and the like. In the new build- 
ings, gas-ranges and steam heat are also supplied to every apart- 
ment. In the earlier buildings simply the stairways and stair halls 
are heated by steam. There are shower-baths on the ground floor 
and tub-baths in the basement, as well as laundries and steam drying 
rooms for the free use of tenants. In the newer buildings about 
half of the four-room apartments are provided with private baths 
within the dwellings. Dumb-waiters are used to bring up articles 
from the cellar and to take down garbage, the latter being received 
at specific hours of the day. The first story of these buildings is fire- 
proof, staircases are built of non-combustible material, and are sur- 
rounded by fireproof parapet walls. Fireproof parapet walls also 
enclose each area of 2500 square feet. 

The rentals of these apartments per square foot of rentable area 
the only fair basis of comparison are practically the same as those 
charged for much inferior accommodation in the neighborhood. 

The City and Suburban Homes Company is earning from its model 
tenement investment 5 per cent net and 1 per cent for depreciation. 

Model tenement buildings, being better constructed, cost more 
than tenements erected by speculative owners, but rentals need not be 



866 FINANCIAL ASPECTS 

larger. The expense of management is less per given unit when sev- 
eral contiguous city lots are built upon. The repair account is less 
by reason of better construction and more efficient management. 
There are fewer vacancies and losses from irrecoverable arrears. 
Vacancies in the City and Suburban Homes Company's buildings 
during the last fiscal year amounted to 4J per cent, and losses from 
irrecoverable arrears -^ of 1 per cent. For the first half of the 
present fiscal year even this record has been improved. 

I think it can safely be maintained that gross rental receipts of 9 
per cent upon a thoroughly well-built model tenement building will 
yield as high a net return as gross rentals of 11 to 12 per cent upon 
the ordinary tenement. 

At one of the public hearings accorded by the Commission, I re- 
ferred to the handicap which model housing companies suffer as com- 
pared with a private owner of tenement houses under the tax law of 
this State. It cannot be maintained that this disadvantage is partly 
offset by lower assessment on realty, because the present inquiry has 
made it apparent that as large a proportion of the net rentals of a 
model tenement are expended in payments of real estate taxation as 
in the case of an ordinary tenement house of the same size. 

I believe that an effective solution of the tenement house problem 
in New York cannot be realized without a large development of cor- 
poration activities. At least 4 per cent, besides a depreciation fund 
and an annual contribution to surplus, can now, and for many years 
doubtless will be, earned by a strongly organized and well-managed 
model tenement company. When we consider the declining rate of 
interest and the sound nature of the security, such a return ought 
and doubtless will satisfy a large class of investors. In my view it 
is wise policy to foster and encourage the growth of such companies, 
both because of the good work they are capable of doing, and also 
because of their influence in establishing a higher plane of competi- 
tive building. 



THE SPECULATIVE BUILDING OF TENEMENT 

HOUSES 

BY LAWRENCE VEILLEE 



THE SPECULATIVE BUILDING OF TENEMENT 

HOUSES 



MUCH has been written in a popular way about the enormous 
profits accruing to the landlord in tenement house property, and 
much abuse has been heaped upon his shoulders. On the other 
hand, the tenement house landlord has protested that his profits are 
small and that tenement house property, as a rule, does not pay. 
Both of these statements strange as it may seem are correct. 
In some cases large profits are reaped by tenement house landlords, 
while in other cases investment in tenement house property is a 
losing venture. The reasons for this state of affairs are various. 
Unfortunately, accurate statistics as to the profits of owners of 
tenement houses have never been available, as few landlords have 
been willing to make public just what their income from such prop- 
erty is. 

While it is undoubtedly true that many landlords neglect the 
tenement houses of which they are the owners, and allow their 
property to run down and depreciate because they are unwilling 
to make needed repairs, and that many leave the management of 
their house to irresponsible janitors or housekeepers, yet the land- 
lord is not responsible for all the evils of the tenement house 
system. 

The system of building tenement houses on building loans as a 
speculation, which has been in vogue in this city for a number of 
years, is undoubtedly responsible for a part of the evils of our tene- 
ment house system. Persons discussing the tenement house problem 
are apt to dwell with great emphasis upon the hardship of strict tene- 
ment house laws on the investor. Do they realize that hardly one of 
these houses in this city is erected as an investment, but in nine cases 
out of ten is built purely as speculation? 

This subject is so little understood by the general public that it 
becomes necessary to describe the methods employed in such opera- 
tions. The cases cited are in the main typical instances, although 
the ones selected relate to tenement houses in the more congested 
VOL. i 2r 369 



370 THE SPECULATIVE BUILDING OF TENEMENT HOUSES 

portions of the city on the lower East Side, where land values and 
rents are higher and where vacancies are few. The same method 
and system of building tenement houses, however, prevails in all the 
different parts of the city, although the operations vary somewhat 
in the details above mentioned. In order to understand this subject 
it must be considered from four points of view : first, that of the 
"Building Loan Operator," or money lender; second, that of the 
speculative builder, or man who erects the building; third, that of 
the purchaser, who invests a small sum of money in such buildings ; 
and fourth, that of the general welfare of the community. 

There exists in this city a body of men known as " Building Loan 
Operators," whose business is the buying up of land in certain por- 
tions of the city as opportunity offers, and holding such land until 
some builder desires to build in that neighborhood. The land is 
then sold to the builder at a greatly increased valuation. 

Let us assume that a speculative builder desires to build one or 
more tenement houses in some portion of the city. As a rule he is 
a man with little capital, and too often with little experience and 
knowledge of building. Having almost no capital, his first necessity 
is to borrow sufficient money to enable him to purchase the land and 
carry on his building operations. As tenement houses are seldom 
erected singly such buildings being generally put up in rows of 
three to twelve buildings at a time and as the value of an ordinary 
25-foot interior lot on the lower East Side is from about $ 18,000 to 
$20,000, and the cost of each ordinary tenement house at the present 
time is about $18,000 to $20,000, it becomes apparent that he must 
have a capital of $36,000 to put up one house, and to put up four 
houses a capital of $144,000. It is, therefore, necessary for him to 
find some person who will loan him this money or such portion of it 
as will enable him to carry on his building operations. The " Build- 
ing Loan Operator " exists to fill this need. What happens generally 
is this : The " Building Loan Operator " sells to the builder one or 
more lots in the neighborhood where the builder desires to erect his 
tenement house, and the " Operator " generally sells the land at an 
advance of from $1500 to $2500 per lot. This makes the large part 
of the " Operator's " profit. 

Although substantial profits are made in these speculations, it 
would not be fair to assume that such profits accrue in every case. 
Often the speculative builder fails during the progress of the build- 
ing, and the " Building Loan Operator " has to step in and foreclose 
the mortgage and complete the building himself. This gives him a 
great deal of trouble and annoyance and is what the " Operator " 
tries to avoid. In such cases he finds considerable difficulty in 
quickly finding a purchaser, as it is generally known that the houses 



THE SPECULATIVE BUILDING OF TENEMENT HOUSES 371 

have been in trouble and have been sold uncompleted, under fore- 
closure, and are in consequence not eagerly sought for. The " Build- 
ing Loan Operator " has then practically to become the builder, and 
to provide more cash than he originally intended to lay out, and can 
only realize a profit on the transaction provided that he is fortunate 
and sells the property advantageously. In some cases, however, 
certain unscrupulous operators make a practice of foreclosing, at the 
first opportunity, wiping out the small equity of the builder and 
forcing him to the wall. 

Let us assume, as a typical case, that a " Building Loan Operator " 
sells for 40,000 to a builder two ordinary 25-foot by 100-foot interior 
lots, for which he has paid $36,000. The operator thus has made a 
paper profit of $ 4000, or, putting it in another way, the cost of this 
property to the ultimate investor has been increased $4000 at this 
point, so that the " Building Loan Operator " may make his profit, 
and this, be it understood, is in addition to the interest upon the 
money loaned. The " Operator," in selling these two lots for 140,000, 
sells them generally with a first mortgage for the whole amount and 
enters into a building loan agreement with the builder. The form 
of such agreement is generally the same in each case, a standard form 
having been adopted. The " Operator " then lends, in addition to the 
$40,000 for the land, the sum of, say, $ 25,000 in cash as a loan to 
cover part of the expense of building ; this loan to be paid in instal- 
ments about as follows : the first payment to be made when the 
first tier of beams is laid ; the second when the third tier of beams is 
laid and the front has been carried up to the second tier of beams ; 
the third when the fifth tier of beams is laid and the front has been 
carried up to the fourth tier; the fourth when the building is en- 
closed, roof on, and cornice up ; the fifth when studding and lathing 
are done and rough plumbing in ; the sixth when the scratch coat 
and brown mortar are on ; the seventh when the white mortar is on 
and the rough lead plumbing work is finished and the stairs are up ; 
the eighth when the standing trim is on, stoop is up, windows in, and 
plumbing half finished ; the ninth when the doors are hung, the cellar 
cemented, sidewalks laid, and everything about completed except 
decorating ; the tenth when the building is entirely completed and 
ready for occupancy. 

It will be seen from this that payments of the loan are made at 
different times, but never unless more work has been done than is repre- 
sented by the payments ; thus the " Operator," in case of the failure 
of the builder, is fully protected and is able to finish the building 
himself if the original builder fails to do so. 

It will be seen from the above that the builder has agreed to pay 
to the " Building Loan Operator" the following sums: 140,000, which 



372 THE SPECULATIVE BUILDING OF TENEMENT HOUSES 

is a purchase-money mortgage, and $25,000, loaned for expenses of 
building, making a total of $65,000, with interest at 5J to 6 per 
cent ; such interest generally dates from the time of the making of 
the loan, and is generally paid all together with the principal sum 
when the transaction is terminated. 

An ordinary tenement house built as a speculation generally takes 
from six to eight months to finish, although in some cases such build- 
ings are " run up " and occupied in a less time. We have seen from 
the above statement that the " Building Loan Operator " makes a 
paper profit of about $2000 on the sale of each lot, that is, a profit 
of $4000 on the sale of the two lots in the case instanced, and also 
receives interest at the rate of 5^ or 6 per cent on $65,000 for six 
months, which is practically $2000, or a total profit of $6000 for his 
six months' venture in money lending, that is, at about the rate of 
18 per cent per annum. 

We now come to the point of view of the speculative builder. 
We have seen how he has borrowed part of the money necessary to 
carry on his building operations, having secured a loan from the 
"Operator." If he has a capital of $11,000, he will have sufficient 
money to carry on the entire operation and can make his contracts 
and proceed to construct his building. In most cases, however, the 
speculative builder has very little capital, and as a rule either 
borrows this amount of $11,000 from friends or from some bank, or 
buys his material on credit, for which he sometimes gives a mortgage 
to the material man subordinate to the "builder's loan mortgage." 
Before constructing his building the builder hires an architect, who 
prepares for him a set of plans and secures the approval of such 
plans from the Building Department, generally for a sum ranging 
from $125 to $150 in each case. These plans are often copies of 
plans that have been used over and over again by other builders, 
and as a rule are drawn with very little regard to sanitary re- 
quirements, but chiefly with regard to getting the greatest 
possible number of rooms into a building in compliance with 
the tenement house law. The speculative builder then proceeds 
to let out contracts to different subcontractors, and constructs his 
building, paying off his contractors as he gets his payments from 
the "Building Loan Operator." As yet the builder has made no 
profit, nor can he make any until he secures what is known as the 
"permanent loan." It is apparent, therefore, that as he is paying 
5J to 6 per cent on the money he has borrowed and is receiving no 
return of any kind, it is essential for him to secure a permanent 
loan and also a purchaser of his building at the earliest possible date. 
Such permanent loans are generally obtained from insurance 
companies, trust companies, and often from individuals. Such 



THE SPECULATIVE BUILDING OF TENEMENT HOUSES 373 

companies, having large sums of money which they must place out at 
interest, are constantly seeking channels of investment. Now these 
corporations are restricted by law in certain respects from loaning 
money on real estate, for instance, Sections 13 and 16 of the Insur- 
ance Law (Chapter 690, Laws of 1892) provide that life insurance and 
fire insurance companies shall not loan their capital on real estate in 
the State of New York beyond 66f per cent of its value. Again, 
Section 159 of the Banking Law (Chapter 689 of the Laws of 1892) 
provides that the capital of trust companies shall not be loaned on 
real estate in the State of New York beyond 50 per cent of the value 
of the property, although the surplus of trust companies may be loaned 
as the directors see fit ; while savings-banks may only loan on 50 per 
cent of the value of real estate if the property is improved, and only 
on 40 per cent where the property is vacant land. The result of this is 
that the custom has arisen of builders making false valuations on their 
property for the purpose of obtaining larger loans from these fiduciary 
institutions, by presenting with their application for a loan high 
appraisals of real estate brokers ; and it is to be regretted that very 
often large loans, based upon false valuations of the property, are 
made by these institutions and the provisions of the law evaded. 

A large loan, although at a high rate of interest, is also advan- 
tageous to the builder. Having placed a false valuation on his 
property for the sake of securing a large loan, he is able to give the 
prospective purchaser of the property an impression that its value is 
greater than it really is ; and this impression is borne out by the cir- 
cumstance that in filing plans with the Building Department the 
estimated cost of his buildings is often stated at a larger figure than 
the property is really worth. An examination of the records of the 
Building Department for the past six or eight years will show that 
it has been the custom for builders to state that their projected tene- 
ment houses are to cost anywhere from 20,000 up to 25,000 each, 
whereas the real cost of these houses has been from 116,000 to 118,000 
each. 

As soon as the builder obtains his permanent loan he can pay the 
" Building Loan Operator," and if he finds a purchaser for the build- 
ing, can then clear his own profit. Let us suppose that on his debt 
of 65,000 to the " Building Loan Operator," he secures, from some 
insurance company or from some other source, a permanent loan of 
58,000 on first mortgage at 4J to 5 per cent, which leaves a second 
mortgage of 7000, which the " Building Loan Operator " holds, and 
this is nearly always a "demand mortgage." The builder now imme- 
diately tries to find a purchaser or investor for his property. Such 
investors are often small tradesmen or persons who have saved from 
5000 to 15,000, and who have heard that tenement house property 



374 THE SPECULATIVE BUILDING OF TENEMENT HOUSES 

pays a large rate of interest, and who are anxious to accumulate money 
quickly. In considering the investment the purchaser or investor 
is apt to give chief consideration to the following elements : the cost 
of the property, the amount of mortgage upon it and the rate of 
interest, as well as the amount of taxes and repairs, and the income 
to be obtained from the property through rentals. It is the custom 
in some parts of the city for the speculative builder to fill up his 
building with tenants upon its completion, giving them often one to 
three months' rent free, and in many cases signing bogus leases purely 
for the purpose of impressing the purchaser or investor of the prop- 
erty with the idea of the large rentals to be secured from it. The 
difference between the cost of the property to the builder and the 
purchase price to be paid him by the investor is in all cases the profit 
to the speculative builder, and it is only here that he has any oppor- 
tunity of making his profit. Let us see what that profit is in the 
case above quoted. The two buildings actually cost him to erect a 
total of 136,000. The land cost him 140,000, making a total of 
$76,000. Out of this he has had to repay a loan to the " Building 
Loan Operator" of $ 65,000, with interest at 6 per cent for six 
months, which is equivalent to $1950, or say $2000. He has there- 
fore an equity in the property of $9000. He sells the buildings 
let us say for $81,000, that is, at a profit to him of $5000 for eight 
months' work. 

Let us now consider the point of view of the purchaser. As 
previously stated, the purchaser in most cases is some person who 
has saved from $5000 to $15,000, and who desires to obtain a large 
rate of interest upon his money. He has visited the building, finds 
it well occupied by tenants, is told by the builder that he is receiv- 
ing such and such a rent from each apartment, in some cases is shown 
leases with the tenants verifying these facts, finds the building new 
and on the surface apparently well built, has estimated the amount 
of revenue to be obtained upon the basis of the statements given 
him by the builder, and has considered the amount of money to be 
put into the investment, including the amount of mortgage upon the 
property, and has been duly impressed by the fact that some finan- 
cial institution has made a large loan upon the property. If it 
seems to him a good investment, he purchases. In the first place he 
assumes the mortgage or permanent loan of $58,000, he pays off at 
once the second mortgage of $7000 to the " Building Loan Opera- 
tor," and pays in cash to the builder $16,000, which makes his total 
investment $81,000, and his equity in the property $23,000. 

The gross annual rental from a new tenement house of the kind 
we have instanced is about $4620. And the annual expenses for 
such a building, $1546, as follows : 



THE SPECULATIVE BUILDING OF TENEMENT HOUSES 375 

Taxes $525 

Water-rates, about 70 

Insurance on $40,000, about . 50 

Gas for lighting halls 60 

Coal for hot water supply and for pumping water to roof tank 75 

Janitor, $18 a month 216 

Kepairs, decorating, etc * , . . . 250 

Loss of rents from vacancies and bad debts . . . . 300 

$1546 

For two such buildings the gross rental would be 19240, and the 
annual expenses 13092, leaving a net annual income of 16148. If 
these two buildings carried a mortgage of $58,000, it would be neces- 
sary to deduct from this income the interest on this amount at 5 per 
cent, or $2900, leaving a net income of $3248 on $23,000 invested, 
or 14 per cent. 

If there was no mortgage, but the total amount of $81,000 was 
invested, then there would be a net annual income of $6148 on this 
amount, or 7J per cent on the money invested. 

It will be seen from this statement of facts that three persons 
have obtained substantial profits upon these tenement houses, and 
that, had the building been erected directly as an investment on cash, 
the greater part of such profits would have been entirely unneces- 
sary. There is no reason why investors cannot directly build tene- 
ment houses as investments and thus do away with the profits of two 
middlemen, the " Building Loan Operator " and the speculative 
builder. As will be seen, the " Operator " obtains from this enter- 
prise, in case it has been successful, a profit of $6000, and the specu- 
lative builder obtains a profit of about $5000 ; thus the cost to the 
purchaser or investor has been increased about $11,000 beyond what 
it should have been. If the builder did not have to pay a profit of 
$6000 to the money-lender, it would be possible for him to build his 
house properly and not " skin " the building. But, as it is at pres- 
ent, in order that he may realize his own profit, it becomes necessary 
for him to adopt what is known as the " lumping system," which 
has thus been described by one of our leading builders : 

"The desire for cheapness has developed, particularly in the 
erection of tenement houses, a system of performing the building 
operation known as 'lumping.' The average speculator who erects 
a tenement house knows practically nothing of building. He pur- 
chases the raw materials, in the case of brickwork, and awards the 
contract for putting up the masonry to what is termed a 4 lumper,' 
who furnishes him the labor at a certain price per thousand for lay- 
ing the brick. A similar system prevails in some of the finishing 
trades. The result of this method of doing work must be apparent 
to any one who stops to consider the question. The various lumpers 
who are interested in doing this class of work are often irresponsible 



376 THE SPECULATIVE BUILDING OF TENEMENT HOUSES 

men who have no interest in the building, beyond forcing their 
employees to do the greatest amount of work possible, irrespective 
of the principles of mechanics or the building laws. The result is 
that, in the average house built under this system, the workmanship 
is wofully bad. In many cases these lumpers are members of the 
Unions of the workmen, and in order to help a fellow member out 
of a difficulty in which he has placed himself by contracting to fur- 
nish the labor too cheaply, they will exert themselves to the utmost, 
doing as much work as it is possible for a human being to do, with- 
out any regard as to the manner of the doing, or the result. The 
product is a miserably built structure, often without any mortar in 
the interior of the wall, and one that will deteriorate very rapidly. 
In other words, the tenement house that is put up by the lumping 
system is simply the shadow of what it appears, and the unfortunate 
investor who purchases what seems to be a substantial building will 
find that, within two years, the value of his purchase has shrunk 
from 20 to 30 per cent or even more." 

If the purchase price of the building were not necessarily 
increased 111,000 on $ 72,000, or 15 per cent, it would be possible 
to construct such houses with proper conveniences, with light and 
air, with larger rooms even fireproof and well built and the 
investor would still at the present rentals receive just as large a 
return on the money invested. 

How this system is to be checked or cured it is most difficult to 
say. I believe, however, that the situation must to a large extent 
be met along economic lines, and that the investor must be awakened 
to a knowledge of the existing facts. With an efficient system of 
administration and enforcement of the tenement house laws much 
could be done to remedy many of the evils that exist. The main 
object of a building department is to prevent violations of the law. 
How far short of this the present Building Department falls must be 
apparent to any person. For instance, the report of the Building 
Department for the year 1899 shows that during that year there were 
filed 24,103 violations of the law. This is not preventing violations. 
The reason for this state of affairs is to be found in the fact that the 
system of enforcement of the building laws is inefficient. This system 
consists in sending out a series of notices of intended prosecution, drag- 
ging on from periods of from three to six months, and in some cases over 
a year, the result being that practically no builder fears having a viola- 
tion filed, as he knows he can complete his building and sell it before 
any legal proceedings will be commenced ; and as such proceedings are 
always taken against the owner of the property, it is of no impor- 
tance to the builder whether the new owner is sued after he (the 
builder) has disposed of the property. Although the law provides 



THE SPECULATIVE BUILDING OF TENEMENT HOUSES 377 

specific penalties of $50 for every violation, practically no penalties 
are collected. That our building laws and tenement house laws 
can be effectively enforced no one can doubt, and such enforcement 
is not at all difficult. By systematically collecting penalties from 
those builders and architects who habitually violate the laws, 
and by making public through the press the filing of violations on 
such buildings, or by making these penalties a lien on the property, 
the system of violating the laws now so extensively in vogue would 
soon be checked. For the reason that, as soon as it becomes public 
that there are violations of the law upon a building, the builder will 
be unable to find a purchaser or obtain a permanent loan until such 
violations are removed. Publicity is the one thing that the builder 
cannot stand. In addition to these means, however, I believe that it 
would be wise and of advantage to the community generally, but 
especially to investors, to inaugurate a system of granting certificates 
to persons erecting tenement houses, to the effect that they have 
complied with the tenement house laws when they have done so, 
and prohibiting such a building from being occupied until such cer- 
tificate has been granted. This is analogous to the system now 
employed by many architects before making payments on a build- 
ing, and is a system which is employed in the city of Glasgow and in 
other European cities. I believe that it might even be advisable to 
follow in detail the method employed by architects, and issue certifi- 
cates at different stages of the building's progress. 

After this system had been in vogue a short time I feel sure that 
no builder would receive his payments until he had procured his cer- 
tificate from the proper authorities, to the effect that the building 
complied with the tenement house laws, and that it would become a 
matter of custom for no savings-bank, trust company, insurance com- 
pany, or other fiduciary institution to make loans upon such property 
until the builder could exhibit such a certificate. 

That these views of the " Building Loan Operator," and especially 
of the building loan system above set forth, are shared by others is 
evident from the following quotation from the real estate column of 
the Commercial Advertiser of March 3, 1900 : 

"... The building loan operator adds nothing to the value of 
the property, . . . and most successful builders have avoided all 
association with him. . . . There are a few honorable exceptions, 
but they are so few that they do not prejudice the general proposition 
that buyers are wise who avoid all dealings with them. 

" The methods of the building loan operator have introduced no 
economies in either the production or distribution of real estate 
investments. On the contrary their general plan is to inflate prices 
by every trick, device, scheme, practice, that is known to the business. 



378 THE SPECULATIVE BUILDING OF TENEMENT HOUSES 

They are generally past-masters in the art of cheapening construc- 
tion by petty substitutions and evasions of the law, and in covering 
defects with plaster and 'decorations.' When they buy they over- 
state the prices they have paid, and when they sell, or, as more 
frequently they do, exchange, they again overstate the real considera- 
tions. Having been the chief operators for the last five or six years, 
they have created notions of values in some sections that are unreal 
and cannot be sustained. They have succeeded to the extent they 
have because of the unlimited supply of ' lambs ' that always exists 
in a community like New York." 

From a study of this system of speculative building of tenement 
houses, one cannot escape the conclusion that such a system is detri- 
mental to the welfare of the community, that it increases the value 
of property in an artificial manner, that it makes it almost impos- 
sible to properly house the working people of this city, and that it 
tends to create methods of building construction which should not 
be tolerated by any civilized community. 



THE SPECULATIVE BUILDING OF TENEMENT HOUSES 379 



APPENDIX TO REPORT ON SPECULATIVE BUILDING OF 
TENEMENT HOUSES 

Appended hereto is a letter from a real estate agent who has had many 
years' experience in the managing, renting, and sale of tenement houses 
on the lower East Side in the district east of the Bowery, near Houston 
Street, giving his views as to rental income as well as annual expenses of 
a new tenement house. 

"NEW YORK, December 14, 1900. 

" DEAR SIR : As spoken of over telephone, we have prepared a state- 
ment of appraisal for a modern East Side tenement according to your 
request, and which please find enclosed. 

" I beg to inform you that I have taken particular pains in preparing 
this statement, and in my opinion I can make an assertion that it is per- 
fectly correct, for in doing the work I have gone into facts and figures of 
many buildings recently erected on the East Side of the city, and taken 
into consideration many houses that we have under our charge as agents, 
as also the experience that I have had in making appraisals for loans and 
sales of this character of property. 

" Trusting you will find this to your entire satisfaction, I remain 
" Yours very truly, 

"GEORGE J. KENNY & BRO." 

Statement of appraisal of rental value of a modern tenement house 
built on a lot 25 feet front by 100 feet in depth, situated on the East Side 
down town, in the city of New York, in the section east of the Bowery 
and between Houston and Hester Streets. 

This appraisal of rental income and also the annual outlay and dis- 
bursements of such a modern house is estimated on its being erected on a 
lot on an ordinary street of the East Side in section spoken of, without 
being in what is classed the popular or market section where the value of 
lots is high, and accordingly we give what is the present market value 
of a lot 25 feet front by 100 feet in depth inside, in such a block, and the 
cost of construction of a six-story modern building on said lot and its 
annual rental income and outlay and disbursements, and in addition we 
give the value of a similar lot in size and a similar modern building 
erected on such a lot in what can be classed as a popular or market 
neighborhood of the East Side. 

Our opinion of the rental income and outlay and disbursements is 
based on a modern six-story and cellar double brick or stone tenement to 
be built upon a lot 25 feet front by 100 feet in depth, building to be in 
size 25 feet front by 85 feet in depth, with two stores on the first or ground 
floor and two basement stores, and which would be built under the Laws 
of the Building Department and under its law to use about 75 per cent 
of the lot for building purposes. 

This building would have, besides the two stores on the first or ground 
floor, two apartments in the rear on the first floor, consisting of three 
rooms to each apartment. 

On the five floors above it would be planned to have four tenants to 
each floor, two tenants in the front and two tenants in the rear. 



380 THE SPECULATIVE BUILDING OF TENEMENT HOUSES 

The apartments in the front would consist of four rooms to each 
tenant, and the apartments in the rear woiild consist of three rooms to 
each tenant, in all fourteen rooms on each floor, and according to the 
dimensions given of this building these rooms, divided as they are on 
each floor, would be each of a fair size. 

The four rooms of the front apartments would contain what is com- 
monly known as parlor, kitchen, and two bedrooms, and the three rooms 
in the rear would contain parlor or living room, kitchen, and one bed- 
room. 

Under the present custom of building modern tenement houses, each 
apartment would have one or two stationary tubs, cold water sink, gas, 
but no range, as the custom is to have such building supplied with hot 
water from a plant for that purpose placed in the cellar and in charge of 
the janitor. 

The plan of such a house would provide for two toilets in the halls on 
each floor, and dumb-waiter to run from the cellar to roof, and the neces- 
sary wash or drying-roof, and in making use of the percentage of the lot 
as given it would give ordinary size light and air shafts, and if a row of 
such houses were built at the same time these light or air shafts could be 
planned to give entirely more benefits to each house than if one house 
was built alone. 

The monthly rentals would be as follows : 



Store north and one room 
Store south and one room 
Basement north 
Basement south 
1 floor back north 

1 floor back south 

2 floor front north 
2 floor front south 
2 floor back north 

2 floor back south 

3 floor front north 
3 floor front south 
3 floor back north 

3 floor back south 

4 floor front north 
4 floor front south 
4 floor back north 

4 floor back south 

5 floor front north 

6 floor front south 
6 floor back north 

5 floor back south 

6 floor front north 
6 floor front south 
6 floor back north 
6 floor back south 

Total rent per month 
Total rent per annum 













$25.00 












25.00 




. 








8.00 




V : m ... ., 








8.00 




3 rooms 








12.00 




3 rooms 








12.00 




4 rooms 








18.00 




4 rooms 








18.00 




3 rooms 








14.50 




3 rooms 








14.50 




4 rooms 








17.00 




4 rooms 








17.00 




3 rooms 








14.00 




3 rooms 








14.00 




4 rooms 








16.00 




4 rooms 








16.00 




3 rooms 








13.50 




3 rooms 








13.50 




4 rooms 








15.00 




4 rooms 








15.00 




3 rooms 








13.00 




3 rooms 








13.00 




4 rooms 








14.00 




4 rooms 








14.00 




3 rooms 








12.50 




3 rooms 








12.50 












$385.00 












4,620.00 



We take a lot situated on a street on the East Side running north and 
south for this modern tenement, where generally lots are not as valuable 
as on streets running east and west unless in some market or popular 
section. 



THE SPECULATIVE BUILDING OF TENEMENT HOUSES 381 

The present market valuation of an inside lot, 25 feet front by 100 feet in 

depth, in such a street as mentioned on the East Side, would be about . $20,000 

We estimate that the cost of construction of such a modern tenement house, 
built in a substantial character, including all cost of construction, archi- 
tect's fees, and loss of interest during time of construction, would be about 



Such a parcel of property, lot and building, could readily carry a 
mortgage of about two-thirds of its entire value, or about $ 27,000, at 4 per 
cent if such would be wanted. 

Annual outlay and disbursement of such a modern tenement, including 
the interest account on the cost of lot and building, would be as follows : 

Say that no mortgage was obtained, we estimate 5 % on the cost of such lot 

and building ./ . . . . . $2,050 

Taxes . . ,' . . . . ..'.'. V " . . 525 

Water-rates about . . . . . . :*. ; . ' '-". 70 

Insurance on $21,000 about . ,.,,..; .; ; , ',,-,. .;.y ;;, . 50 

Gas for lighting halls per annum 60 

Coal for hot water supply and also for pumping cold water to tank " . ' . 75 

Janitor services, per month, $18 . . . . . .' '. . . 216 

Repairs for such a new modern building would be as follows : 

Kalsomining and painting in particular apartments where tenants would 
move ; repairs for damage caused to plumbing, leaks, etc., and for the 
first number of years the repairs would be moderately, per annum, about 250 

Loss of rents by vacant apartments, which might occur by the moving of 

tenants, would be a fair allowance of about 300 



$3,596 

Total rent per annum 

Deduct total annual outlay and disbursements, which includes 5 % 
interest on the total amount of capital 



Net earnings per annum 




Taking into consideration that a mortgage would be placed on this 
property for $27,000 at 41 per cent, and that an investment would be 
made of the difference in cash, to wit, $ 14,000, the result would show as 
follows : 

Interest on mortgage . . . . . ^ $1,215 

Taxes, about . 525 

Water-rates, about 70 

Insurance, about 50 

Gas ' 60 

Coal 75 

Janitor, per annum 216 

Repairs 250 

Loss of rents . . . ... . . . . . 300 

$2,761 

Total annual income . . , . $4,620 

Deduct total annual expenses, including interest .... 2,761 

1,859 
Less agent's commission for services for management of property, collecting 

of rents, etc., if such would be employed, 5 %, about .... 200 

Net income or earnings on capital invested . , * . . *-". $1,659 



382 THE SPECULATIVE BUILDING OF TENEMENT HOUSES 

This would show the result of 12 per cent on the amount of capital 
invested in property of this character. 

The structural depreciation of such a building would largely depend 
upon the care and management of the property, and after the first three 
or five years the annual allowance for repairs and cost of mechanics' 
bills to keep the property in order is generally about 10 per cent upon its 
annual rental income. 

Should such a modern tenement be built upon a lot in a popular or 
market section of the East Side, the additional cost would be in the value 
of the lot only, as the cost of constructing such a building would be the 
same, and a full lot 25 feet front by 100 feet in depth in a very crowded 
section, inside lot, would be worth about $28,000 or $30,000, and the 
increase of any rental income would be provided for or obtained from 
the stores, as the apartments would rent for about the same figures, and 
the increased rental from the stores would very well pay a good rate of 
interest for the increased cost of the lot. 

On a sale of this property it is generally conceded that the builder's 
profit should be $3000 to $4000, which would made the selling price of 
this property $45,000, and at that figure the gross rental income would 
represent 10 per cent on the selling valuation. 

Eespectfully submitted, 

GEORGE J. KENNY & BKO. 



TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE 

TENANTS 



TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE 
TENANTS 



THE housekeeper of one of the old style tenements, on the lower 
East Side, a building five rooms deep, the three inner ones with no 
outside windows, who has lived in East Side tenements for twenty 
years, said in answer to questions, that the worst things about the 
old tenements were the water-closets and sinks in the halls, both of 
which could be remedied. 

Water-closets. The worst thing about them is the school sink. 
The Board of Health inspector tells her that according to the law, 
at the time when they were built, they are all right, but she says 
they " stink horribly," and in other tenements are just as bad. 

Four families have to use one toilet, men, women, and children, 
44 so," she says, " we use it as little as possible." " I have the children 
go to the toilet at school, for I am afraid of sickness. It is so horrid 
for my daughter, that she waits to use the toilet where she works. 
She hasn't been inside of one here for four or five months." 

The toilets are in the yard. The families take turns in keeping 
them clean, and they are supposed to be scrubbed once a week, but are 
often left for two weeks, and it is always done at irregular intervals. 

Sinks. The worst of the sinks is that people wash at the sinks 
in the public halls ; big girls, without their waists and barefooted, 
come out and wash there. The halls are never clean on account of 
the sinks ; people come out and wash their dishes in them, and wash 
their meat in the sinks. They spill the water around the sinks, and 
when the halls are cold in winter the water freezes and makes the 
floors slippery. She thinks it wouldn't cost the landlords very much 
to put water in the rooms. 

Dark Halls. The landlord turns out the gas in the halls when 
they light it, even if the inspector has ordered it to be lighted. 
Sometimes when an inspector has a grudge against a landlord he 
comes very often, then the landlord gives him a tip, f 2, f 6, or even 
$ 10, and everything is all right. 

Fire-escapes. Fire-escapes ought to be kept clear. Her hus- 
band goes up and down those on their house once a week, and throws 
VOL. i 2 o 385 



386 TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 

away any rubbish on them, and makes the people take in anything 
they value, so that the fire-escapes are kept clear. On the receipt 
blanks there is a foot-note, which says, among other things, that the 
fire-escapes must be kept clear. She thinks the housekeeper and 
landlord can do it if they want to. She said, " I tell you when the 
landlord and housekeeper keep together they can do more than the 
tenement house inspector." 

Boarders. In regard to boarders she is very strict. When peo- 
ple keep three or four, men and women together, she puts the ten- 
ant out, or when there are two families in one room. She says there 
are twenty-three boarders in the house across the street. 

Bath-tubs. Wouldn't care for bath-tubs if two or three fami- 
lies must use them together, on account of contagion. Shower-baths 
for men would be nice. 

Immorality. When they speak of bad houses, whose fault is it ? 
The landlord's. He should know who is in his house. A bad fam- 
ily was here once ; how long did they stay ? Just two weeks. I 
sent them out quickly. They were "brothers and sisters"; you 
should see how quickly I sent them out when I found out about 
them. There is too much money in it, the landlord cares only for 
money and doesn't care for dirt ; it's all money, money. 

Years ago we had all American landlords, who went once a month 
to every room and collected rents, and looked to see if the rooms were 
clean and how the people were. Now the landlord cares only for the 
rent. 

She says in conclusion that she would be perfectly contented if she 
could only have her own water-closet and water in her room. W. 



The following was written by a young woman of twenty, a tene- 
ment dweller all her life. 

LIFE ON THE EAST SIDE 

Being born and bred on the East Side, I am somewhat in a posi- 
tion to judge the various discomforts that exist in the modern tene- 
ments. The greatest evil is the lack of light and air. 

The air shaft is so narrow that the kitchen windows in two houses 
adjoin one another. In most houses the air shafts are the only means 
of light and air for at least two out of every three rooms, and the. only 
means of lighting the staircases. 

The first thing that awakens one in the morning is the loud voices 
of the various tenants, intermingled with the odors that arise from 
the kitchen windows. It is, indeed, wonderful that you can distin- 
guish any one voice among them all. If we are to give the reason 




A SCHOOL SINK. 



TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 387 

for the people's loud voices, let us first consider how difficult it is for 
one to make himself understood in this medley and confusion ; in 
this congested living House of Babel, it becomes habitual for us to 
raise our voices. 

After the children are sent to school, the various mothers com- 
mence their house-cleaning, then comes the question, What is to be 
done with the garbage of the day ? Most women solve it by throw- 
ing it into the street and air shaft. It is much easier than climbing 
the dark stairs and running the risk of breaking one's legs. In some 
cases it is almost a necessity to throw it out, the premium on space 
is so high in their tiny kitchens, which hold wash-tubs, water-sink, 
and chairs, and just room enough to turn about. In this room the 
cooking, the washing of clothes, the daily ablutions of the various 
members of the family, take place. 

The cooking is generally abbreviated to one meal a day, the other 
meals consisting of tea or coffee, with bread and butter. 

On washing and ironing days the children are sent to school with 
a cent to buy candy, instead of lunch. 

After the principal meal of the day is over, the kitchen changes 
its appearance into a study room ; the older children sit at the table 
doing their arithmetic, while the younger ones sit on the floor or any 
available space, with a large book on their laps for a desk. 

The public schools are beginning to realize the East Side needs 
by opening their playgrounds for quiet study and play, which is a 
dire necessity ; where every inch of space is utilized in their houses, 
it is a relief to get into a large, airy room. 

The law forbids putting pots or pans outside of windows on fire- 
escapes, but the rooms are not supplied with enough closets or refrig- 
erators, hence the only means of getting rid of them. 

Another step in tenement house reform would be compulsory 
bath-rooms and lavatories. How can the children be taught decency 
where male and female intermingle without the slightest regard to 
sex or common decency? Bath-rooms would not only help to keep 
the people healthier, but would elevate the standard of morality. 

E. B. 



A woman who is the housekeeper of a five-story tenement house, 
and who for twenty years has lived in tenement houses, when asked 
in what way she would like them changed, exclaimed without a 
moment's hesitation and very emphatically : 

" No air shafts ! " She then added, " I sweep mine every two 
days, but sometimes it smells so it makes me sick to my stomach. 
In summer I've got to sweep it every day, or I can't stand it. You 



388 TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 

see it's damp down there, and the families, they throw out garbage 
and dirty papers and the insides of chickens, and other unmention- 
able filth. The housekeeper before me wasn't so particular, and I 
just vomited when I first cleaned up the air shaft. Then it's so hard 
to get into, you know. I have to crawl through the window, and in 
that other air shaft I have to climb down a ladder, and me with the 
rheumatism, it aches me. That other housekeeper before me wasn't 
so strict. I found the cellar full of mattresses and old things when 
I came. Now my cellar's just as clean as my halls, and my agent 
says it would do for Fifth Avenue. You know they call my house 
a flat, and the next one, just like it, a tenement. The house across 
the street is awful dirty, and so all kinds of people live there together, 
Italians and Jews and Christians, and they quarrel terrible. 

" You must please excuse these clothes drying in my room, but I 
can't climb the stairs to the roof, it makes my heart beat so, and other 
bad feelings. That's what all the other women says, too ; and I 
don't dare to hang a fine wash in the air shaft, because some one else 
might put out a red wash or a blue wash above it, and it drips down 
and makes you do your wash all over again." 

During the conversation the housekeeper was interrupted twice 
by men who wanted to see the apartment. " It's on the stoop in the 
rear," she explained. "Three rooms and ten dollars a month ; two 
on the air shaft, and one at the back. The gas costs too much ; I 
have to burn kerosene oil myself, and them rooms is very dark ; 
mine's light. The ladies that have lived in them rooms always com- 
plained of headache and dizziness. When I used to live in dark 

rooms on street I used to have headache and get dizzy, but now 

I'm all right. And then when you get up on top where it's sunny, 
the stairs near kills you. A friend of mine has had her top floor 
empty three months. My husband when he was alive, never could 
live up top. He always said it made him sick to go through the 
halls with the smells of so many different families. He used to say 
air shafts ought to have wires across the windows to keep people 
from throwing things out. But the noise hurts me. It comes down 
the air shaft so that sometimes I can't sleep all night." 

The visitor asked about the china closet that began above one's 
head and extended to the ceiling. The reply was : " Oh, I can't get 
into there. I've only cleaned it twice in two years. I keep my 
dishes I use on that little shelf in the corner." She also said her 
dark halls she cleaned by candle light, or at night when the gas was 
lighted. She added that the bottom of the water-tank on the roof 
was covered six inches deep with mud when she came, but that she 
had cleaned it, and that the sun shining all day on the tank in sum- 
mer made the water bad. One other fact she added, that she would 



TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 389 

like very much to have the board fences removed and the back yards 
thrown into one. B. 



MY EXPERIENCE OF LIFE IN A SECOND-CLASS TENEMENT-FLAT 

HOUSE 

[The writer of the following is the wife of a stationary engineer 
occupying a position which enables them now to live in better quar- 
ters than the average tenement house provides. During the time of 
which she writes her husband was a fireman with irregular work, 
and they lived in a tenement house, paying $11 per month for three 
rooms.] 

Why I say second-class is there are three classes, first, second, 
and third. First-class, in which you pay high rent for location and 
appearance of house and hallways. Generally the rooms are small, 
but you have bath-room, range, and improvements. 

Second-class, in which you pay reasonable rent and get good-sized 
rooms, but no improvements and poor location. It is this class I 
have seen the most of, because I have lived in them, and, of course, 
they are the homes of the respectable (or supposed to be) working 
class ; although the classes of people get all mixed together accord- 
ing to circumstances. If you put on your thinking cap, you need 
not lack work for the brain, and if you are observing you need not 
lack amusement. But you must have no nerves, or you live a life 
of excitement and nervousness. Before I was married I had never 
lived in a tenement flat. My first experience I felt like a prisoner. 
I knew I was free, but I felt as if some power was keeping me there 
against my will. 

After I got used to the life, I began to look around and study 
things up, and to wonder why I should feel like that. I began to 
study my neighbors, and I found if you want to live in peace, you 
must keep to yourself. I saw some gossiping and drinking together 
to-day, and to-morrow fighting ; and not content with fighting 
among themselves, they draw their husbands into it, when they 
come home from work. Then there are some who want to borrow 
all the time from every one. Then you see men, and women too, 
going for drink as early as five o'clock A.M. The women will neglect 
their homes, children, husbands, and everything for drink ; they 
never seem sober. 

That is where the danger of fire comes, with such people ; for 
they are not responsible for their actions, or able to control their 
children. I have seen children playing, running to and fro with 
blazing paper. One night we were preparing for rest when there 



390 TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 

was a smell of fire. I opened the room door and saw the hallways 
full of smoke and all the people out on the stairs. Two or three of 
us ran down to the janitor, and we saw black smoke coming from 
the front rooms on the ground floor. We knocked and knocked till 
at last an old woman opened the door. She was just rags and dirt, 
and too drunk to speak. The wash-tubs were full of clothes, colored 
and white, all mixed together ; she said she was washing. There 
was no fire, but a small lamp stood on the stove burning ; coal was 
scattered all over the floor ; the place was upside down, and whiskey 
bottles were all over the window-sill. The place had such a close 
smell, no bed made, and it past 10 P.M. The place was a picture of 
filth and dirt, and yet the furniture and other things were good. 
She said there was nothing burning there, and we could not find 
where the smoke came from, although the room kept filling with 
black smoke. We searched the cellar, but no smoke was there. So 
we had to retire at that. Lovely sensation to go to rest with not 
knowing what hour you may be awakened by fire ! 

Another time it was Sunday noontime ; we had just sat down to 
dinner when I saw smoke up the air shaft. I thought at first it was 
fog, then it grew blacker, and I ran into the hallway, and looking 
over the banister I saw the smoke thick and I heard voices ; so I 
called out, " What is the matter down there ? " and a voice said in a 
scared whisper, "The house is on fire." I ran into the room, and 
slipping on my best shoes I snatched up my clothes that I had laid 
on the bed ready to go out after dinner. I took a towel and wound 
it round my head and face, telling my husband to do the same 
quickly. I groped my way downstairs and out into the street just 
as the flames were bursting through under the stairs. I ran up the 
street a few houses to where the agent's office was, and left my 
things, thinking my husband was following me with his things, but 
no. Then I ran back to find him ; he was looking for me, and had 
nothing. He said I was so quick that he did not know what was 
happening, and when he saw the flames he came down to see if I was 
out safe ; then he wanted to go back, but the firemen would not let 
him, for the house was cleared of every one. The smoke was 
dense. 

Well, after it was all over we went back. We lived on the third 
floor, and the fire had just begun to come through under the wash- 
tubs and in the bedroom. All the lower stairs and ground floor and 
first floor back was destroyed. It appears that two weeks before 
they had let the back basement to a man and his wife with two chil- 
dren ; they had very little furniture, and four days before the fire 
they had the furniture insured, and on Sunday had filled the ash 
cans full of rags and set fire to it. The fire marshal had the man 



TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 391 

arrested. Had it been night no one would have escaped. That is 
one reason why landlords should have tenements fireproof. 

Another delightful thing is the smell of cooking ; you get sniffs 
of all kinds, sometimes not very fresh, so that by the time you are 
ready for your own dinner you have no appetite. 

Nice quiet life in a tenement ! On one floor you will find two 
families living next door to each other, very neighborly for a time, 
going from room to room ; then they drink together day after day, 
night after night, until husbands and wives get all mixed up ; then 
they all fight, tearing and biting each other like animals, and getting 
knives to each other. Of course at a time like that all the men, 
women, and children that are in the house are out on the stairs and 
in the hallways. 

Over us lived a man and wife with two children ; they were so 
ragged and filthy I was glad when they moved. Then came a young 
couple ; really they looked boy and girl he looked about twenty- 
one and she about eighteen ; they were supposed to be married three 
months only. Another young man used to visit them. For two 
days and nights they danced, they shouted. I cannot call it sing- 
ing, because they were too drunk to sing. Well, it was like bedlam 
let loose. We could not sleep, for they kept it up early and late. 
We did not like to say anything, or make a complaint, for we thought 
they were having their honeymoon. It was summer time, and every 
window was open, so everything could be heard. He would become 
quarrelsome, and they would both swear like troopers. They were 
not so innocent as they looked. They kept it up two or three times 
a week for three months. The people began to shout at them from 
different houses, to keep quiet and let people sleep. The answer 
they got was, "I am an American citizen." At last people complained 
to the agent. Then they began to throw furniture about and ham- 
mer on the doors. So the agent asked me if they were as bad as 
people said, for he said I must have the worst of it, as I lived under 
them. I showed him the ceiling, all broken and cracked all over, 
so that I expected it to come down. So they had to move. Then 
another family came, with two children, a boy of about eight years, 
and a girl of about six years. Both father and mother drank ; he 
beat his wife, and she beat the children ; they were bruised and cut 
all over. I heard the boy screaming, " Oh, mamma, please don't hit 
me." With that, it sounded as if she had taken the poker or some- 
thing from the stove. She must have hit him, for he screamed more, 
and said, u Oh, mamma, mamma, my head is bleeding." I was going 
to report them to the Gerry society. 

Then you can watch your neighbors in other houses, and put two 
and two together and tell what is happening. I saw husband and 



392 TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 

wife so comfortable and happy together every morning and evening. 
One morning I saw the man go out early, and about ten o'clock I 
heard crying and moaning. I listened, and thought, that is not a 
child ; that is a woman in distress. I looked and saw people in the 
room. I thought, something has happened. So later on in the day 
I heard he was killed by the train. After the funeral she moved 
away. Some one moving in and out nearly every day. 

The back of the house in the next street was empty except two 
floors. On one floor were two old ladies, so prim and severe looking 
they reminded me of New England women. On the other floor was 
man and wife. I think the man was a musician that played at parties 
or in the street ; for twice a week two men would come and practise 
with him. One played bass fiddle, and the other a harp, while he 
played the violin. After they had practised a time they would play 
dance music, and all the girls and boys in the flats would go in the 
yards and dance. How the people did enjoy that music ! Every 
one would be at their windows listening. Sometimes they would 
play old song tunes, so soft, and so beautiful. Then the people 
would clap their hands ; it was inspiring in a neighborhood like that. 
I was sorry when they left. 

At last the top floor was let to a family with two children. One 
little tot about three years old would climb up and hang through 
the window ; I expected him to fall every day. When the next 
floor was let to a young couple, with a baby a few weeks old, they 
were friends of the people over them ; so they all had a jollification 
together in the upper rooms, drinking, music, and dancing about till 
late. The next night the young man was putting down the carpet 
and beside him was the beer can ; they were drinking beer all even- 
ing. About a week after they gave, what I suppose they call, a 
housewarming, and there were lively times till early morning. 
About a week after that, on Thursday night, I heard the baby cry- 
ing day and night. I thought, that baby is sick ; the third night I 
did not hear it, so I thought it was better. On Sunday my husband 
said to me, they are having another party over the way ; they have 
company and they are all dressed up. I looked and saw white 
flowers on the fire-escape. I said, " Why, it is a funeral party ; the 
baby is dead." So they moved away. (Another picture in the 
panorama of life !) 

It is a mystery to me whether drink causes poverty or poverty 
causes drink among the working classes. Of course, there are many 
things the landlord cannot help. If he turns out bad tenants, he 
is likely to get worse, or as bad. If he wishes to keep his house 
quiet and respectable, he must get references with his tenants. The 
landlords cannot always help the overcrowding, for when a person 



TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 393 

goes after rooms, they are asked how many in family ; oh, three ; 
but when they move in there are uncles and aunts, and perhaps 
boarders, making double the number. Sometimes one family will 
rent the rooms, and two families move in. 

There is much the landlords can do for the good of their ten- 
ants. For instance, it is the landlord's duty, or agent's, to see that 
the janitor keeps the place clean. It is dreadful to see the condition 
of the air shafts : they are cleaned when it suits the janitors ; they 
are the receptacle for everything thrown from the windows of two 
houses ; a child naturally throws things through the windows, but 
grown people should know better, they are as bad as the children. 
Bones, skins of fruit, old tin cans, dirty paper, and all kinds of 
things are thrown out. It ought to be the duty of the Board of 
Health to see that the landlords attend to these things. I do not 
think the Board of Health inspectors should say when they are 
going around ; they should take the people by surprise and they 
would see many things. 

Then, again, spitting on stairs and in hallways should be strictly 
forbidden, and not only forbidden, but made punishable by law. 
There should be a light kept in the dark lower hallway at all times, 
for the hall and stairs are so narrow, a person coming down and a 
person going up are likely to collide, especially if they are carrying 
anything. Anything that is detrimental to the health of others 
should not be allowed. If people would only think of the golden 
rule, to do to others as they wish to be done by, and think that the 
world was not made for them alone. For those that are compelled 
to live in tenements, how they could help each other to live better 
and happier lives. Some one may be sick or dying, and they are 
disturbed. Those that are trying to better the conditions of the 
poor have much to study and many problems to solve, that will take 
time and patience. It may seem disheartening to an onlooker, for he 
cannot see the ins and outs like a person that lives among the 
poor. 

There is one thing especially I think is dreadful, and I think it 
is the cause of a great many children being so rude and forward. 
In the ordinary flats there is no privacy at all, either from your chil- 
dren or your neighbors ; for everything can be heard unless you are 
as quiet as a deaf and dumb person. Of course people do not 
always whisper. Now there are many little things about private 
business that husband and wife wish to talk about, that concern no 
one else. If in building the new model houses they would make 
the walls and floors to deaden sound, it would be a great blessing to 
humanity. The Association for Improving the Condition of the 
Poor has done much toward baths for the people ; but it would be a 



394 TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 

great benefit to many a poor family if they would build baths for 
washing and drying clothes, charging so much an hour, as they have 
in London, for in small flats where there are children, washing is 
very unhealthy, drying clothes where people eat and sleep, when the 
weather is bad. If you hang them on the roof you must watch them 
or they disappear ; if you live in the back and have pulley lines, in 
some places a sheet and one tablecloth fills the line, and they blow 
over the next line, and get more dirty than before they were washed. 
The women up over you shake their bedclothes and rugs over your 
clothes ; and if the people are not clean, then your clothes will have 
animals walking about over them. 

Oh, there is lots to think about in a tenement-flat house. Talk 
about fire-escapes, for so they are called ! I should call them curi- 
osity shops, for they are covered with everything from bedding down 
to flower-pots ; here you see rags of quilts and clothes ; there you 
see chairs, tin boxes, ice boxes, dogs, birds, cats, rabbits, jars, and 
bottles of every description, big parrots screeching at each other, 
canaries singing, and children playing. Here and there you will 
find a fire-escape devoted to flowers alone, but rarely. They are a 
sight to see. When I look through my windows and down between 
the rows of houses, where the yards are so small that the houses 
seem quite close together, it reminds me of the old historical Petti- 
coat Lane, Whitechapel, in London. 

I leave the third class entirely out, for it is past my comprehen- 
sion how they live at all. It is only an animal existence work, 
eat, sleep, drink. No thought of cleanliness in homes or themselves. 
That class is the hardest to reach. It is a problem how to deal with 
them, to better their condition. It is of no use whatever talking or 
preaching to them. The only way I see is force of example through 
their children. When they see the children growing up to be what 
they should be, they will be ashamed if they are not too hardened 
and stupid with drink. If they do not entirely reform, they will 
keep within bounds for their children's sakes, and the children will 
be able to do a great deal with their parents. N. H. 



Years ago, my first home in a city and in New York was in an 
old tenement house over a saloon in Chrystie Street, and indeed it 
was not a happy initiation. What I remember most was the dark- 
ness that permeated the whole building, the groping up the stairs and 
through the hallways into the rooms that were not much brighter. 
In fact, only our front room was really light, and we had the advan- 
tage, too, of living in the front. Both kitchen and bedroom were 
without any opening for either light or air, and a lamp was always 




A COMMON HALL SINK. 
HALL TOTALLY DARK PICTURE TAKEN BY FLASH-LIGHT. 



TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 395 

burning by day, for, of course, we knew not the wonder of gas. Liv- 
ing in the front, however, could not always be looked upon as an 
advantage, and I have in mind the hard wash-days, with all the 
necessary water to be pumped and carried from the hall. It was a 
hard pump, too, and needed all the strength of two arms to work it. 
Then those who live in the back have lines, a luxury which can only 
be truly appreciated by those who must carry every bit of their wash 
up three or four flights of stairs to the roof, and particularly on cold 
winter days, it is almost enough to make people determine to wear 
their clothing longer without change, and obstinately not care if 
they are clean or not. To go back to my recollection of this old- 
fashioned pump, memories of the sink (which also served for this 
whole floor) are more vivid than all else, for this was a source of 
never ending controversies between the families. Each would ac- 
cuse the other of filling the sink with matter which belonged in the 
garbage barrel, and cleaning the sink was certainly dirty work. How 
unfortunate, that where the greatest effort for cleanliness is urgent, 
the necessity for it is least understood. Nor can there be much 
blame where the surroundings are so unclean and unattractive. It 
would be a laborious undertaking indeed to try to make a home 
bright and cheerful under such discouraging conditions. 

We moved from this tenement one day to another in Division 
Street, this time remembering to profit by experience and choose the 
back rooms. But we sacrificed much for the convenience of lines, 
much of the light we had before, for there we had at least one light 
room facing the street, while here a great blank wall loomed up 
before us for our scenery, which with its tiny squares of windows 
resembled nothing so much as a great gloomy prison. We had more 
privacy here though, which we valued. Only two families were com- 
pelled to come in contact through the pump and sink, and the two 
sides of this floor were quite separate. 

After a few years in this house we tried another. This house 
had rather a refined, quiet aspect, and was well kept and clean. We 
had our own sink and running water too, and stationary tubs, so 
wash-day troubles were to be a thing of the past. The gas seemed 
a kind of magic, and the first night we lit every jet in the house so 
we might revel in this new luxury. But best of all, our scenery 
had changed. Actual trees grew before us and green yards and 
pretty flowers. In the street next ours, right opposite, were two 
small, low, private houses, and to the people in the tenements around, 
the open space and lovely green were like a veritable oasis in the 
desert of down town. The Brooklyn Bridge was also a part of our 
view, and could be distinctly seen from end to end. How often by 
night we would watch the lights twinkling like stars in the distance. 



396 TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 

It was a very happy change, and we were permitted to enjoy it for a 
little while, indeed a very little while. 

Lots, I understand, are very valuable, and soon the beautiful trees 
were cut down. It was a barbarous thing. The green yards and 
flowers went next, and then we knew, though at first we mourned 
and wondered, that all this digging and uprooting meant new houses 
of greater height and depth. Once more we were to have the high, 
forbidding walls before us. Nor did it take long. In little over a 
year it was all accomplished, and even our beloved bridge was com- 
pletely hidden from view. Gradually the house, too, underwent a 
change for the worse through neglect of the landlord, who, rather 
than make repairs, decreased the rent. By the time he had found it 
necessary to decrease the rent three times (three dollars) in order to 
keep his tenants, it was time to look again for another house, for this 
was no longer one to be proud of. 

So we moved again. Really in a worse neighborhood than ever 
before, but by far the best house, and the house, after all, is more 
important than the street, when one has to choose. We are still 
living in this last choice, and we now feel we are in almost as perfect 
a tenement or flat as can be imagined or hoped for. 

There are two flats built next each other on the same plan, by 
the same owner, and sanitary conditions have been observed from 
cellar to roof. Light and cleanliness pervade the houses throughout. 
No stumbling up the stairs here, for a good-sized window lights the 
way on each floor. The halls are tiled and easily kept clean, while 
on each floor are two little toilet closets, each with a window which 
opens into a large double air shaft. This is always kept painted a 
clean white. The dumb-waiter, also in the hall, can only be properly 
appreciated by one who is saved repeated climbing up and down the 
stairs with ash-cans, market baskets, etc. 

The rooms themselves are all light and bright, and all things 
throughout the houses show that no mediocre workmen have been 
employed. The painting is beautifully done, and is repeated as 
frequently as necessary without any reminder. Indeed, a man is 
sent through the houses regularly to inquire if anything needs atten- 
tion, and should anything get broken or out of order before he comes, 
a word to the janitress is quite sufficient. 

I might mention that the rent is $ 13, and is very little more than 
we used to pay. Another matter of real interest, I think, is that 
the owner keeps his property in such good state for no other reason 
than that ultimately it must redound to his own interest, for the 
houses must last longer and are always sure to be filled. Would 
that there were more men of the same spirit, and more such houses ; 
larger ones with more rooms, and with bath-rooms too. 



TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 397 

EXPERIENCE IN TENEMENT HOUSES FROM THE TENANTS' 
POINT OF VIEW 

When I was married, nearly ten years ago, our friends advised 
us to rent two or three rooms in a private house, but I wanted more 
than three rooms ; four rooms I considered absolutely necessary at 
that time, but four rooms in a private house would cost twenty dol- 
lars ; four rooms in a tenement were ten dollars, so into a tenement 
we moved, in the Nineties, East Side, four apartments on a floor ; 
our apartment was in the front, three flights up, four rooms, station- 
ary tubs, gas, china closets, etc. What pleased me most was a large 
open air shaft connecting our tenement to another one of the same 
style, extending from the kitchen windows in the front to the kitchen 
windows in the rear apartments. My pleasure was of short dura- 
tion ; for with the light we also had foul air, caused by vegetables 
and other refuse being thrown into the air shaft from the different 
windows. 

Our sleep was also disturbed nightly by drunken quarrels and 
vile language, which emanated from the various apartments having 
openings into the air shaft. The cause of all this disorder was 
brought into the tenement in tin pails and pitchers ; the women were 
worse than the men, who, with the possible exception of Saturday 
night, were comparatively sober, industrious mechanics, but with the 
women it was a constant parade of beer kettles from early morning 
until late at night. One young woman told me she could not sleep 
if she did not have beer before she went to bed. " What ! " I said 
to her, " after all you drink during the day ? " " Oh ! that is nothing,'* 
she replied; "my man would be mad if I did not drink with him." 
I found out that he didn't have any idea she drank during the day. 
It seemed a terrible thing to me, for she was only nineteen years old 
and very pretty. 

We lived ten months in that house, and I could fill ten pages with 
the disagreeable incidents that occurred while we were there. Com- 
plaints to the agent did not amount to anything, so we resolved to 
move, and with the erroneous idea that all tenements were like the 
one I have been describing. We moved into a flat. If I had 
remained there, my views of tenement house life would have been 
very narrow. 

Another tenement in the Seventies, on the East Side, in which I 
lived, was, prior to its being made as such, an old-fashioned seven- 
room flat house, four apartments on a floor, four rooms in the front 
and three in the rear, the division being made by locking the door 
between the centre bedrooms, an arrangement which was entirely 
satisfactory to the landlord; but for the tenants who wanted to sleep 



398 TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 

at night and were prevented from so doing by noises in the adjoin- 
ing apartment, this plan of division and subtraction is very unsatis- 
factory. The opening should have been filled up with studding, 
lath, and plaster. 

The plumbing was antiquated ; both toilet and wash-tubs were 
very often unfit for use. The janitor would occasionally make a 
pretence of repairing them, but that wMch was really needed was 
better sanitary arrangements. 

All nationalities were represented in this tenement, and although 
there was not so much drinking amongst the women, they quarrelled 
quite often, and were continually confiding their troubles to me, so 
that finally I decided to move. 

I am at present living in an apartment house, three families on a 
floor, two apartments in the front, one in the rear, each apartment 
consisting of four rooms. Our apartment being in the front necessi- 
tates carrying the wash to the roof. The house is kept clean and 
neat ; the rents are reasonable. The landlord lives in the house and 
takes good care of his property ; therefore he very seldom has an 
empty apartment. 

In the absence of a bath we use the stationary tubs, and I think 
it would be a good plan, where the space is limited in an apartment, 
to have the tubs arranged so that the centrepiece could be taken 
out, making a good substitute for a bath-tub. A. C. F. 



LIFE IN A NEW TENEMENT HOUSE 

A person who has not hunted for rooms in a tenement house can 
hardly believe what a " privilege " it is to live in one. The College 
Settlement, not having room for its residents, had decided to increase 
its opportunities by taking quarters in a near-by tenement house, 
and the writer, together with two others, were to work out the 
experiment. 

We knew just what we wanted, three bedrooms, a sitting room, 
and an extra room for storage purpose. Rents are always high in a 
crowded district, so we fixed upon $20 per month as the sum neces- 
sary. We knew that four rooms and bath with hot and cold water 
could be had uptown for the same sum and less. We thought that 
the respectability attached to us as members of the Settlement would 
insure our entrance almost anywhere. However, not a concession 
was made, the attitude of the landlords being, " Take it or leave it, 
as you please." 

We had much to learn. Up and down stairs we went. The 
search began in July and was continued until the middle of Septem- 



TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 399 

her. Some places were too small, others too dark, all too dear for 
what was offered. In some houses the rooms seemed possible, but 
one glance into the so-called " air shaft " was enough ; festoons of 
rags and rotting vegetables hung from the windows, and piles of 
refuse lay at the bottom. During the search we found but one build- 
ing where there were bath-rooms, and the price for four rooms and 
bath was $23 a month, but ^>here were no vacancies. Nowhere was 
there a place where three people could live comfortably at a rental 
of 120. 

About the middle of September we found that a new tenement 
house on Orchard Street was almost ready for occupancy. The 
plaster was still wet and things were in a generally unfinished state, 
but these are small difficulties to an East Sider looking for rooms. 
The agent stood at the door with book and pencil in hand, taking 
deposits from would-be tenants. The building was one of the kind 
multiplying very fast, four apartments of three rooms each on every 
floor. The front apartments on the second floor (up two flights) had 
not been engaged and the rent was $14 each. We thought we might 
take two apartments if we could find a fourth person to share the 
expense, as this was $8 more than we had expected to pay. We 
asked the agent to hold these apartments till Monday. This was on 
Saturday afternoon, and Sunday intervened, one of the best business 
days of the week for house agents in this neighborhood. Once more, 
but falteringly, we ventured to say who we were and tried to make 
him see the advantage of having tenants who would do no cooking 
in the house, would take good care of the rooms, and would turn 
them over at the expiration of their stay in as good condition as they 
found them. The reply to this was, "You pay your money, we 
don't care what you do with the rooms." After some further per- 
suasion he promised to do as we asked, but we had little faith in his 
word. 

Before nine o'clock on Monday morning we had found our fourth 
person and presented ourselves at the building only to discover that 
one of the two apartments we desired had been rented. When re- 
proached for breaking his promise, the agent curtly told us that if 
people gave him money to hold rooms they got the preference. After 
repeated visits and much persuading we succeeded in securing rooms 
on the floor below. The rent was $1 more, $29 for six rooms, and 
we paid 810 to hold them. After taking them we began to doubt. 
They were not so light as the rooms above, but when we remarked 
this to the landlord he quickly said, " If you don't want these rooms, 
say so ; there are plenty waiting who will pay $30 for what you are 
getting for $29." We meekly said we wanted them and departed, 
fully appreciating the privilege that was ours. 



400 TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 

What did we get for our $29 ? Let me describe one of these 
two apartments. There was a front room 11 feet 6 inches wide 
by 9 feet 6 inches long which contained a tiny wardrobe. The 
middle room or kitchen, 11 feet 6 inches wide by 11 feet long, had 
no range, therefore no hot water. But there were laundry tubs and 
a sink with a cupboard above for dishes and cooking utensils, but it 
was so high that only one shelf could be reached from the floor. The 
back room was the family bedroom. This was 7 feet wide by 9 feet 
9 inches long, had no closet, and opened on the air shaft. 

On the first of October we moved in and proceeded to make the 
place as homelike and attractive as possible. The two kitchens we 
turned into sitting rooms by screening off the tubs and sink. The 
other rooms were used for bedrooms until the bad air from the shaft 
made it impossible to sleep in the rear room. Then we made a couch 
in the middle room do duty for a bed, and, with its cover and bright 
cushions, it passed for a piece of sitting room furniture in the day- 
time. 

We had none too much space in our six rooms, yet we knew one 
family of seven in the same house who occupied half that number, 
and our house had the reputation of having no large families. Several 
took boarders. This means of helping out with the rent is commonly 
resorted to, no matter how few the rooms. 

There were many evidences of the most careless building, things 
which would not be tolerated by owners in a different locality. 
Workmen had used one of our rooms for their tools, nails had been 
driven where they ought not to be, walls had been soiled, and paint 
had been spattered everywhere. For a time the floors seemed hope- 
less with great splashes of paint and plaster, but by degrees we got 
them scraped and stained. A board under the sink had been removed 
to admit a pipe and had not been replaced. The gas fixtures were 
poor and ill fitted, so that we had a constant leakage, which was 
both expensive and far from healthful. Doors and windows were so 
loose that it was impossible to sleep comfortably because of the rat- 
tling noise and the draughts. And here, perhaps, is a good place to 
speak of the draughts in a tenement house. 

Up to the time of living in one we could not understand why our 
neighbors so carefully closed all their windows if the weather grew 
the least bit cool. Never have I felt such draughts as those which 
tormented us in that house. They came from all directions, out of 
the walls, up from the floor, through the crevices about the doors 
and windows, circling around us in eddies. We were all fond of 
fresh air, but little by little we fell into the ways of our neighbors 
and began closing windows until we grew ashamed of our bad habits, 
and in sheer desperation covered our heads and opened the windows. 



TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 401 

Will some investigator explain this ? We think it is bad building ; 
nothing was well joined in our house. 

It would be difficult to remember the number of trips made to 
the landlord to have only the necessary things done. After repeated 
efforts the nails were withdrawn from a window sash into which 
twenty large ones had been driven, but we never succeeded in hav- 
ing the holes filled and painted. They remain a testimony to the 
way things are done and left undone in a big tenement. We asked 
to have the walls cleaned, but were told they would be painted in 
the spring, so we submitted. 

A Yiddish carpenter, who could speak no English, appeared one 
morning with a box of tools and the single word " wash-tubs." Won- 
dering what he could want with our wash-tubs I admitted him ; he 
walked to the tubs and drove a nail without an apparent thought as 
to where he was driving it or why. He then started to go, when it 
flashed through my mind that he might have been sent to put in the 
board under the sink ; taking him by the sleeve and turning him 
back, I pointed under the sink. A look of intelligence came into his 
face. He fell on his knees and began chopping wood on our stained 
floor. With many gesticulations I got him into the hall to do his 
chopping and sawing, and, after directions conveyed by motions, the 
board was put in. 

Before we left the building the landlord came in and told us he 
would do anything he could for our comfort. This was a great sur- 
prise, and shows that it would be real missionary work for friends of 
the cause of better tenements to live for a time in such houses and 
demand that the landlords do their duty, which surely is to make as 
comfortable as possible the people from whom they collect their 
rents. 

We remained in the house seven months. We feel that they 
were well spent, but we have no desire to continue the experiment. 
We found many difficulties in the way of comfortable living. Though 
the house was new, the odors soon became insufferable, and the air 
from the shaft, as I have mentioned before, but which may well be 
repeated, became so foul that we could not sleep in the rooms open- 
ing on it without feeling that we were taking a great risk. The 
stairs were usually so dirty that it was unpleasant to use them, and 
clothing was constantly being soiled with the contact. But how could 
this be helped ? There was the traffic of twenty-two families, where 
the children had to run most of the errands, and they, of course, 
spilled things on their various journeys. And how could we hope 
to live quietly with the noise from these twenty-two families, with 
children running overhead and through the halls and crying, with 
furniture being moved about over bare floors, with the housekeeper 

VOL. I 2D 



402 TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 

scolding careless tenants, and so on ? So dark were the rooms that 
the gas had to be lighted at three o'clock, and yet this house was 
called a light one. 

From our short trial of living in a tenement house we are ready 
to plead for the greatest effort toward better homes for our working 
people, with larger rooms for the rent, and more pure air and sunlight, 
which should be free. A. D. 



LIFE IN A TENEMENT HOUSE 

As a tenement dweller, I regard carelessness as the greatest evil 
of tenement house life. Mothers overburdened with family cares 
become negligent. Then, step by step, follow laziness and absolute 
filth. 

In the ordinary tenement we find on each floor from eight to four- 
teen rooms, divided into apartments of two, three, and four rooms. 
And in the majority of cases one finds four families on a floor. If 
these apartments were well ventilated and the rooms large and airy, 
this condition of affairs would not be so bad. But the rooms are 
small, the halls are dark and narrow, and the air shafts are either so 
small as to be useless or are closed at the top. On account of their 
proximity to the kitchen, they soon become receptacles for fruit, 
skins, bones, etc., much to the discomfort of the tenants. Unless 
the janitor is a careful person, the very thing that should be a useful 
improvement becomes a menace to health. 

However, it must not be supposed that in many houses improve- 
ments exist, or have been made, which the tenants do not appreciate. 

And we would find that when families demanded certain improve- 
ments, and when the desire for better living apartments became more 
general, capital, ever on the lookout for a good investment, would 
endeavor to supply the wants of the people. But, of course, we 
should compel the old " mossbacks," who would never improve their 
property unless obliged to by law. 

One would really appreciate a bath occasionally, but such a thing 
is impossible in the tenement house of to-day. Our wives would like 
to have a safe method of drying their clothes, instead of the present 
method which results in so many deaths every year caused by women 
falling out of windows. The fences separating the yards could be 
taken down and we should have a safe playground for the children ; 
a few trees would provide sufficient shade. And with the establish- 
ment of drying rooms, or other suitable method of drying clothes, the 
necessity for the unsightly clothes-pole would be at an end. Then our 
back yards, instead of being an unsightly blot, would become breathing 
spots and pleasant playgrounds for the children. 



TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 403 

In conclusion let me suggest what I think are the legislative re- 
forms which are really needed for the improvement of the tenements. 

First. Every house should have at least two shower-baths, one 
for males, the other for females. The objections to the tub-baths are 
so many that it is unnecessary to state them here. 

Second. No apartment should be so divided as to permit a family 
of more than four to occupy less than four rooms. 

Third. Fire-escapes, instead of running up and down the house 
as they do now, and making one's chances depend upon his ability 
to climb a ladder, should extend across the front or rear of the en- 
tire row of houses. Where a house is isolated the ladder fire-escapes 
might be permitted. 

Fourth. There should be easy access to the roof. In many cases 
the ladder route is the only one. This is nearly as bad as the closed 
air shafts, since it keeps people from where they could easily get a 
little air. 

Fifth. Air shafts should be built in every tenement. They 
should be large and open at the top, and should be cleaned and 
whitewashed at regular periods. 

Sixth. The fences in the yards and rear buildings should be re- 
moved to furnish playgrounds for the children and a breathing spot 
in the evening for their parents. 

Seventh. Halls should always be lighted and kept clean. Closets, 
cellars, etc., should be painted or whitewashed at stated periods. 

These suggestions come from a tenement dweller who has spent 
his life in the tenements among tenement people, and who feels that 
more than anything else simple education and a few practical reforms 
by the legislature are needed to solve the tenement house problem. 



TESTIMONY OF A TENANT 

(Testimony taken before the Tenement House Commission at the Public Hearing held 

on November 26, 1900.) 

Mrs. J. A. Miller then took the witness chair and was interro- 
gated by the Secretary. 

TJie Secretary. Mrs. Miller, do you reside in a tenement house ? 

Mrs. Miller. I do. 

The Secretary. And have for how many years? 

Mrs. Miller. Twelve years. 

TJie Secretary. So that you feel that you know about the tene- 
ment houses ? 

Mrs. Miller. I know about a few of them. 

The Secretary. What part of the city did you live in ; East or 
West Side ? 



404 TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 

Mrs. Miller. Most of the time on the West Side ; once on the 
East Side. 

The Secretary. And from your experience were most of the 
houses comfortable ? 

Mrs. Miller. They were not. I moved from one to the other, 
looking for more comfort, and was disappointed in all of them. 

The Secretary. What is the chief trouble with the tenement 
house in your experience ? 

Mrs. Miller. Well, there doesn't seem to be any " chief " about it. 
It seems to be about all trouble. In the first place, the way the tene- 
ments are run. Then the air shaft is the chief and greatest nuisance. 

The Secretary. What is the trouble with the air shaft ? 

Mrs. Miller. It is a place of foul odors rather than air. For 
light, you get light on the top floor, but no place else, and the noises 
I do not think it has a very good influence on the people. 

The Secretary. In what way ? 

Mrs. Miller. Well, it is not very nice to be waked up in the 
middle of the night and hear some one yell out, " Oh, that is down 
on the first floor. He has got delirium tremens again." Two 
houses kept awake by that man yelling. Boys and girls hear it and 
tease the children about it next day. 

The Secretary. You think it has a bad effect on them ? 

Mrs. Miller. Yes, sir ; decidedly. People of questionable char- 
acter get on the opposite floor, keep the windows open, and it takes 
little time for such news to spread ; and boys and girls congregate on 
the roof to look down and watch such things. 

The Secretary. Are the rooms generally light in the tenements? 

Mrs. Miller. If you find a corner house and get an outside 
room and pay $2 or $ 3 more because it is light, you can. 

The Secretary. Generally would you say most of the bedrooms 
are light ? 

Mrs. Miller. No, only where the corner houses are, or where 
a new tenement is built next an old-fashioned house and they have a 
side light over the other man's property ; but where they are in rows 
there are row after row where each house is dark, so dark it is im- 
possible to see except just dimly at the noon hour, on the first and 
second floors. 

The Secretary. How do you manage to do your work ? 

Mrs. Miller. Use gas. 

The Secretary. Do you mean to say you have to light gas or 
burn oil to do your house-work ? 

Mrs. Miller. Yes, sir. 

The Secretary. Is that very general in most tenements you are 
familiar with ? 



TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 405 

Mrs. Miller. Yes, sir, all of them. The kitchen is generally 
the worst room in the house. 

A Commissioner. Is gas or oil most generally used ? 

Mrs. Miller. Where the people can possibly pay for gas they 
use gas. That gets over the trouble of lighting the fire and heating 
their rooms with extra heat to do cooking by. 

The Secretary. You mean they use the gas range too ? 

Mrs. Miller. A stove ; they can't afford the range. 

The Secretary. Are the public halls of most of these buildings 
light ? 

Mrs. Miller. Never but one that I have been in. They are all 
dark. 

The Secretary. Can you see your way clearly up stairs ? 

Mrs. Miller. No ; it is a sort of a twilight in most of them. 
Most of them positively dingy and most of them dungeons where I 
have been looking for rooms. I never went farther than the hall- 
way ; that was enough for me. 

The Secretary. Are these halls generally clean ? 

Mrs. Miller. No ; I cannot say they are. 

TJie Secretary. Do you think the darkness has any effect on 
the cleanliness of the halls ? 

Mrs. Miller. Yes, sir ; I think if the tenants could see the dirt 
they would take a little pride and pick a little of it up. 

The Secretary. Tall buildings have been mentioned this even- 
ing. Have you any recommendation to make about the height of 
buildings ? 

Mrs. Miller. Yes. I think that legislation might legislate so 
that it would be impossible for any landlord to crowd so many 
families into such a small space as 25 by 100 feet. I think twenty 
families is too much entirely to the house. With its usual quota of 
three to seven in a family I think it is entirely too much. 

The Secretary. Why do you think that is bad ? 

Mrs. Miller. In case of fire you always have the fire-escapes 
inadequate. Why ? So many families crowding on them. In case 
of disease there is so much greater risk. 

The Secretary. Do you think the space left for yards in these 
tenements is sufficient ; the 10 feet generally left ? 

Mrs. Miller. No, I do not. I think it could be easily lengthened 
by 5 feet, making it 15 feet. 

The Secretary. Is it your experience that sometimes other build- 
ings that are not tenement houses shut out the light ; factories and 
things of that sort ? 

Mrs. Miller. Yes, sir. That is something I would like to see 
done away with. If a man wants to erect a tenement house he is 



406 TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 

compelled by law to leave some yard space. Factories, churches, and 
public buildings can use the whole quota of the 100 feet ; near tene- 
ment houses this is frequently done, and dark as they are it makes 
them darker. 

The Secretary. Then you would require a factory to leave 10 
feet as well as the tenement if it was in a tenement house block ? 

Mrs. Miller. Yes, sir, just the same. All property which is 
likely to become tenement house property at any time, but I think 
any property in the city limits should be limited to 90 feet of its 
lot. 

The Secretary. How often in your twelve years' experience have 
you seen a sanitary inspector ? 

Mrs. Miller. I have never seen one, but there was one in the 
house once who came on a complaint of the tenants. 

The Secretary. Is it the general practice of tenants, when there 
is cause, to complain to the Board of Health ? 

Mrs. Miller. Sometimes a man gets disgusted and does so, and 
then the landlord finds it out and he is dispossessed. 

The Secretary. You mean the tenant is put out for his com- 
plaining ? 

Mrs. Miller. Most decidedly, if he can be possibly found out. 

The Secretary. Is this a general practice ? 

Mrs. Miller. I have found it so. If the tenant has had cause 
to complain, they have tried to conceal the fact to the best of their 
ability. 

The Secretary. Have you any recommendation to make about 
baths ? 

Mrs. Miller. I would not like to see any baths put in houses 
where other tenants had to use them. If the place can be so arranged 
that there will be a private bath for each family, all right. 

The Secretary. Do you think the people would use them ? 

Mrs. Miller. Yes, if private, but they will not share them. 

The Chairman. Why not ? 

Mrs. Miller. They object to them. In the one class of tene- 
ments where they charge $18 or $20 rent, one bath for three families, 
generally one family uses it. You will say to people, " Why don't 
you use it ? " " Oh, they use it. I don't know what skin diseases 
they have got, and I don't want it." That as a rule is the answer I 
have received. 

A Commissioner. You have lived in tenement houses where 
there were baths ? 

Mrs. Miller. No. I have a particular friend who lives in a 
house, and she never uses it, but uses the stationary wash-tubs. 

The Secretary. Does it work well ? 



TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 407 

Mrs. Miller. Very well. 

The Secretary. Has it a removable partition ? 

Mrs. Miller. No, this one has not, but she manages all right. 
The landlords object to putting those in, I believe, on account of the 
removable partition wearing out in from three to five years, and they 
object to replacing them. 

The Secretary. Don't you think it is because they have to pay an 
extra water tax ? 

Mrs. Miller. That might have some weight too. 

The Secretary. Are there any objections connected with the 
collection of garbage and refuse that have been brought to your 
attention ? 

Mrs. Miller. Sometimes there has been. In case of Saturday 
to Monday, when the weather is very warm, you have to keep your 
garbage upstairs. There is no place to put it. 

The Secretary. Isn't there a can downstairs ? 

Mrs. Miller. The janitor locks that up. 

The Secretary. Is that the general practice ? 

Mrs. Miller. Yes ; I have found that so in two places I have 
been in. I may say three places, because the janitor objected to 
carrying a can full of garbage upstairs. 

The Secretary. The people have to keep the garbage in their 
rooms from Saturday until Monday ? 

Mrs. Miller. Yes, and if by chance of ill-health they don't get it 
downstairs, they keep it until Tuesday. 

The Secretary. Do they keep it in their rooms ? 

Mrs. Miller. Yes, or throw it in the air shaft. 

The Secretary. Do you think it is one of the reasons of the bad 
air in the air shaft ? 

Mrs. Miller. One of the great reasons of it. 

The Secretary. What would you recommend ? 

Mrs. Miller. I would recommend that there should be some place 
built in the areaway, or under the sidewalk, or that covered garbage 
cans should be kept in the cellar where tenants could go down and 
leave their garbage until Monday. With proper disinfectants I 
think that could be managed. 

The Secretary. Are there any other things you desire to call to 
our attention ? 

Mrs. Miller. Yes, sir ; one in particular. I notice saloons in 
these tenement houses, especially when they are in the middle of the 
block ; they do not have any toilet inside of the saloon. They gener- 
ally go out into the common hall, and I do not think it is pleasant 
for the females of any of the families to go in there and meet inebri- 
ated men going to and from the toilet, possibly falling down and 



408 TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 

lying across the stairway. I think a law ought to be passed to keep 
that nuisance out of tenement houses. 

The Secretary. Would you say there should be no door into the 
hallway from the saloon? 

Mrs. Miller. There should not. I do not see why there 
should be. 

The Secretary. Don't the people complain frequently about 
having saloons in the tenement houses anyway? 

Mrs. Miller. Well, no ; they are pretty well tenanted ; but if 
you lived in one that had a saloon in, you would find the tenants all 
finding the same fault I have explained, coming into the hallway and 
meeting all sorts of inebriated and half-inebriated men. 

The Secretary. Are not the parents fearful of their children 
having saloons so handy? 

Mrs. Miller. Yes ; but the rents are mostly always cheaper in 
those houses, and if it is only 50 cents it is quite an item. 

The Secretary. Do you think most of the people in the tene- 
ment houses would appreciate improvements being put in ? Some 
people say they would not. 

Mrs. Miller. My experience is that they all appreciate them to 
the fullest extent, and I have seen people go into ecstasies of delight 
when they heard their landlord was going to improve an old-fash- 
ioned tenement. 

The Secretary. Then you think the great majority of the tene- 
ment house people are alive to the evils of the tenement houses? 

Mrs. Miller. I do think so. 

The Secretary. And that they would like to see them remedied ? 

Mrs. Miller. I do. If they knew a way of remedying them, 
I think mostly all of them would be willing to put their shoulders 
to the wheel and help remedy them. 

The Chairman. What rent do you and your friends pay on the 
average ? 

Mrs. Miller. I paid $12 at one time for three rooms, and then 
I paid $10 the last time for three rooms, with no improvements, only 
gas. When I asked if there was improvements they said gas ; gas 
and cold water. That was up two flights of stairs, had a middle 
kitchen, and the bedroom was dim as it is at daylight at five o'clock, 
and we had a closed air shaft ; one of these covered ones at the top 
with shutters on the side. 

A Commissioner. What has been your experience with refer- 
ence to the windows being kept closed or open, that open into air 
shafts? 

Mrs. Miller. I had to keep mine closed, and others have had to 
do the same that had any respect, or any care for themselves and 



TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 409 

families, on account of the odors and the foul language and other 
noises. 

The Commissioner. Leaving out the question of noise, do you 
think it is the custom of tenement house dwellers to keep the win- 
dows opening into the air shaft closed to keep out odors? 

Mrs. Miller. Yes, sir, I do, and vermin as well. 

TJie Commissioner. Do you think that really the bedrooms that 
open on air shafts get light and ventilation from outside ? 

Mrs. Miller. They do. 

TJie Chairman. Suppose you could get the same accommodation 
for f 9 in Brooklyn, or in the Bronx, that you are getting here in 
New York for $12, would you go there? 

Mrs. Miller. No, sir. 

The Chairman. Why not? 

Mrs. Miller. Because my husband works away downtown, and 
I think he hadn't ought to live more than half an hour or three- 
quarters at the most from his work. Just the same with any work- 
man. Another thing, when you live in the suburbs of the city you 
have to be at your place of business at a given time. If trains or 
boats don't run on time, you can't give that excuse too often. They 
can get men nearer home to work for them. 

The Chairman. There are many parts of Brooklyn that are com- 
paratively free from this nuisance of the air shaft, and must be as 
near your husband's work as an uptown flat. 

Mrs. Miller. It is easy for some, but before I was married I 
worked, and I noticed the Brooklyn girls were often late. The 
trolley and bridge were often delayed. They were delayed by fogs 
and ice, while the girls that lived in New York generally got there. 

The Chairman. Is there any other suggestion you have to make 
why a residence in Brooklyn and the Bronx would not be equally 
easy of access? 

Mrs. Miller. I would prefer living there if the work was there. 
I should much prefer living in Brooklyn to New York, but when 
there is a question of daily labor at stake I believe in living at home, 
and I think there is a great many that think the same way. While 
I think of it, talking about the overcrowding on the East Side, yet 
the authorities are permitting the same in our much-respected and 
long-honored ninth ward; little narrow streets and big six-story 
and eight-story tenement houses going up. Some of these lots are 
not even 25 by 100 ; some only 25 by 60, and they put up the tene- 
ments. Cannot the law prevent that? Just the same thing; little 
coop-holes of rooms measuring 6 by 9. 

A Commissioner. Have the buildings that you have lived in 
been occupied principally by Americans or foreigners? 



410 TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 

Mrs. Miller. I mostly tried to get among Americans if I could. 
If I could not, I preferred Germans. About others I don't know 
anything, only what they appeared to be from the outside. 

The Commissioner. You never lived in a tenement house local- 
ity distinctly Italian? 

Mrs. Miller. Yes, I did ; 46th Street has plenty of them in it. 

The Commissioner. Taking the tenement population on the 
average, in one of these districts, would the people prefer to live in 
the suburbs, other things being equal, or prefer to keep up their tene- 
ment house life ? 

Mrs. Miller. Do you mean the Italians? 

The Commissioner. Yes ; take Italians for illustration. 

Mrs. Miller. I do not know. They seem to live more on the 
sidewalk than in the house. 

The Commissioner. Take the Polish Hebrews ? 

Mrs. Miller. I do not really know what you would do with 
them. They have peculiar ideas. I had a relative that owned a 
little old-fashioned house down there, and next door they put up one 
of these enormous tenements, and I believe the Jewish people don't 
believe in taking life, so to all sorts of vermin they use a whisk 
broom and out it goes out of the window. I don't know how they 
feel about their own lives, so they crowd in the tenements. I don't 
know what would suit them, but I think I know what would suit 
the American people, and I am sure they are tired of these tene- 
ments being built up, and are looking for a place to live but can't 
find it. 

The Commissioner. If you could get to a place in Brooklyn where 
you could get a comfortable house and accommodations where you 
could get in half or three-quarters of an hour with certainty, as cer- 
tain as you can be certain of getting down Third or Fourth Avenues 
to business, wouldn't you prefer to live there ? 

Mrs. Miller. Certainly. 

The Commissioner. And all people that you know that have 
lived in tenement houses would prefer it ? 

Mrs. Miller. Yes. 

The Commissioner. So that it is a question of transportation ? 

Mrs. Miller. Yes, but of course not over three-quarters of an 
hour. It is not everything if a man has to go to work at 7 o'clock 
in the morning and work until 6, to come home after 7 and dine 
about 8 and ready to go to bed. I don't think that is any home life 
for a man. 

The Commissioner. But with the maximum of three-quarters of 
an hour they could endure it ? 

Mrs. Miller. I should think so. 



TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 411 

The Commissioner. And if the transportation were certain and 
effective, they would prefer to live in those localities ? 

Mrs. Miller. I am sure so, because it is not pleasant living in 
these tenements, and then when I speak of $10 and $12 rents, those 
are the cheapest that can be found that are habitable at all, and that 
$10 flat was at the top of a house, four flights of stairs. 

TJie Commissioner. So that in your opinion the thing that com- 
pels people to dwell in these tenements on the island is the lack of 
transportation largely ? 

Mrs. Miller. That is it. 

The Commissioner. In what part of the city do you live ? 

Mrs. Miller. 47th Street. 

The Commissioner. Is that in a tenement house? 

Mrs. Miller. No ; I moved out of the tenement house. I live in 
a so-called private house now and rent out a room. In that way that 
reduces it so that I can afford to pay the rent ; and a great many 
people prefer to do it. A man said to me, " You might as well take 
that flat and rent that room, for you have either to do that or live in 
a hovel," and that seems to be the feeling. There is a row of these 
model houses going up on 42d Street and Tenth Avenue. They 
only want $21 for four rooms. 

The Commissioner. What class of people rent those apart- 
ments ? 

Mrs. Miller. I have never been able to go down there to see. 

The Commissioner. So far as your observation goes, do persons 
seeking tenement houses have difficulty in finding them free of people 
of loose character ? 

Mrs. Miller. Such people get in any place. They have got 
in houses I have been in. Complain to the landlord and he says, 
" She pays her rent ; can't put her out ; got no proof." If you don't 
want to go to court and swear so and so, there she stays. 

The Commissioner. Is it the rule or exception that in tenement 
house districts there are people of loose character ? 

Mrs. Miller. In most places I have been in, where persons of 
that character have got in, they have stayed there until they got 
tired of the place. 

The Commissioner. There have been several instances ? 

Mrs. Miller. There has been more than three. 

TJie Commissioner. More than three out of twelve buildings 
you have lived in ? 

Mrs. Miller. I have not lived in twelve buildings. I have only 
lived in tenement houses twelve years. Prior to that time my father 
was alive and would not live in one of the places. 

The Commissioner. Have you had occasion to observe whether 



412 TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 

the existence of people of loose character in tenement iiouses has 
increased in the last two years ? 

Mrs. Miller. No, I do not know that ; I could not say. 

The Commissioner. Have you been particularly impressed with 
the steepness of stairs in tenement houses ? 

Mrs. Miller. Yes, sir ; some of them are very bad, particularly 
tjiose with a turn. There is a continuous flight of stairs, a turn here 
and go straight and turn again. Those are particularly bad for chil- 
dren, and elderly people going upstairs with children. I think those 
with the turns should be prohibited entirely. 

The Commissioner. Have you known of any serious accidents 
happening from falls ? 

Mrs. Miller. Nothing any more than sprained ankles and wrists. 
I have never heard of anybody breaking their neck, but very near it 
from all accounts. 

The Commissioner. Are petty accidents frequent ? 

Mrs. Miller. Quite frequent in these houses. Hear a noise 
on the stairs and find it is a child or some person tumbling down. 

The Commissioner. You think if the stairways were less high, 
the risers less high, it would be much easier for women to reach the 
upper stories ? 

Mrs. Miller. I think that four flights of stairs is quite an under- 
taking for anybody, and because they are building ceilings quite 
high, and some of the flights of stairs measure 18 and 20 steps to 
the flight. 

TESTIMONY OF A TENANT 

(Testimony given at a hearing of the Tenement House Commission held on November 

26, 1900.) 

MK. HENRY MOSCOWITZ then took the witness chair and was 
interrogated by the secretary. 

The Secretary. Where do you reside ? 

Mr. Moscowitz. 95 Forsyth Street. 

The Secretary. Is that' a tenement house ? 

Mr. Moscowitz. Yes, sir. 

The Secretary. How long have you lived in tenement houses ? 

Mr. Moscowitz. Seventeen years. 

The Secretary. Practically most of your life ? 

Mr. Moscowitz. Yes, sir. 

The Secretary. In that time do you remember about how many 
tenement houses you have lived in? 

Mr. Moscowitz. Fourteen. 

The Secretary. Fourteen different buildings? 



TENEMENT EVILS AS SEEN BY THE TENANTS 413 

Mr. Moscoivitz. Yes, sir. 

The Secretary. So that you feel you are competent to speak on 
the condition of tenement houses from your own experience ? 

Mr. Moscowitz. Yes, sir. 

The Secretary. Have you resided generally in one part of the 
city? 

Mr. Moscowitz. Yes ; in the lower East Side. 

TJie Secretary. What have you got to say about the air shaft ; 
do you think it is a good thing ? 

Mr. Moscoivitz. I think it is decidedly a bad thing. I must 
confirm the statements made by other witnesses that the air shaft is 
a breeder of disease, and especially that there can be no fresh air in 
any building with an air shaft, from my experience, because of the 
refuse thrown down in the air shaft, the stench is so vile and the air 
is so foul that the occupants do not employ the windows as a means 
of getting air. 

The Secretary. Do these shafts furnish light to the rooms, in 
your experience ? 

Mr. Moscowitz. They do not. They do not furnish light because 
the windows are very often dirty. That is one thing ; they are not 
cleaned by the tenants very often and I will explain it that it is a 
hopeless task ; the windows cannot be made clean during the day. 

The Secretary. Why is that ? 

Mr. Moscowitz. Well, there is dirt and dust comes down the 
walls and strikes the windows. 

The Secretary. Do you mean from the apartments above ? 

Mr. Moscowitz. Apartments above. 

The Secretary. People shake things out of the windows? 

Mr. Moscowitz. Yes, and throw things. 

The Secretary. That is not t