Friday, June 26, 2009

The Fourth Ward In the 19th Century

Fourth Ward 2
From Professor Baldwin's comprehensive site at the University of Connecticut
The Fourth Ward: Life and Death in New York, 1860-1870
The tenant-house population of this city would make a city almost as large as Philadelphia, or two larger than Baltimore and Washington, or Boston and Chicago.It has been ascertained by those who have searched out the matter, that over four-fifths of the poverty and crime in the city are due to drunkenness.Were the victims of this vice -- the ruined in fortune and character -- the ill-clad, cold, hungry, sick, crushed wives and children -- the friendless widows and orphans -- the homeless and perishing young girls -- to come down from their garrets, or up from their basements and cellars, and out from their burrowing places where a ray of sunlight never enters -- where pure air is never breathed -- the sad procession would reach from the Battery to Harlem. Whose sympathy would not be moved to its depths at such a sight? yet these unfortunate creatures are here all around us, packed in their miserable abodes in a manner which surpasses belief.There are blocks not over 400 feet square that contain about twice as many people as the whole of Fifth avenue. The Fourth Ward, in which this Mission is located, contains about 50 acres (35 to 40 small blocks), yet its population would make a larger city than Utica, N.Y., or three such cities as Saratoga Springs.One tenant house in it (Gotham Court) often contains over 1,000 of these poor creatures. On one little spot near the Mission, 240 feet by 150, there are 20 tenant-house, 111 families, 5 stables, a soap and candle factory, and a tan-yard. There are less than two dwelling-houses in the ward for each rum-hole.

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