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take two apartments if we could find What did we get for our $29? a fourth person to share the expense, Let me describe one of these two as this was $8 dollars more than we apartments. There was a front had expected to pay. We asked the room eleven feet six inches wide by agent to hold these apartments till nine feet six inches long which conMonday. This was on Saturday after- tained a tiny wardrobe. The midnoon and Sunday intervened, one of dle room or kitchen, eleven feet six the best business days of the week inches wide by eleven feet long, for house agents in this neighbor- had no range, therefore no hot wahood. Once more, but falteringly, ter. But there were laundry tubs we ventured to say who we were and and a sink with a cupboard above for tried to make him see the advantage dishes and cooking utensils, but it of having tenants who would do no was so high that only one shelf could cooking in the house, would take be reached from the floor. The good care of the rooms and would back room was the family bedroom. turn them over at the expiration of This was seven feet wide by nine their stay in as good condition as feet nine inches long, had no closet they found them. The reply to this and opened on the air shaft. was: “You pay your money, we
On the first of October we moved don't care what you do with the in and proceeded to make the place rooms."
After some further per as homelike and attractive as possisuasion he promised to do as we ble. The two kitchens we turned asked, but we had little faith in his into sitting rooms by screening off word.
the tubs and sink. The other rooms Before nine o'clock on Monday
were used for bedrooms until the morning we had found our fourth bad air from the shaft made it imperson and presented ourselves at possible to sleep in the rear room. the building only to discover that Then we made a couch in the middle one of the two apartments we de room do duty for a bed and, with sired had been rented. When re its cover and bright cushions, it proached for breaking his promise passed for a piece of sitting-room the agent curtly told us that if peo
furniture in the day time. ple gave him money to hold rooms We had none too much space in they got the preference. After re our six rooms, yet we knew one peated visits and much persuading family of seven in the same house we succeeded in securing rooms on who occupied half that number, and the floor below. The rent was $1 our house had the reputation of havmore, $29 for six rooms, and we ing no large families. Several took paid $10 to hold them. After tak boarders. This means of helping ing them we began to doubt. They out with the rent is commonly rewere not so light as the rooms sorted to, no matter how few the above, but when we remarked this to the landlord he quickly said: "If There were many evidences of the vou don't want these rooms say so, most careless building: things which there are plenty waiting who will pay would not be tolerated by owners in $30 for what you are getting for a different locality. Workmen had $29." We meekly said we wanted used one of our rooms for their them and departed fully appreciating tools, nails had been driven where the privilege that was ours.
they ought not to be, walls had been
soiled, and paint had been spattered asked to have the walls cleaned, but everywhere. For a time the floors
were told they would be painted in seemed hopeless with great splashes the spring so we submitted. of paint and plaster, but by degrees
A Yiddish carpenter, who could we got them scraped and stained.
speak no English, appeared one A board under the sink had been removed to admit a pipe and had not
morning with a box of tools and the
single word “washtubs.” Wonderbeen replaced. The gas fixtures were poor and ill fitted, so that we
ing what he could want with our had a constant leakage which was
washtubs I admitted him; he walked both expensive and far from health
to the tubs and drove a nail without ful. Doors and windows were so
an apparent thought as to where he loose that it was impossible to sleep
was driving it or why. He then comfortably because of the rattling started to go, when it flashed noise and the draughts. And here, through my mind that he might have perhaps, is a good place to speak of been sent to put in the board under the draughts in a tenement house. the sink; taking him by the sleeve
Up to the time of living in one and turning him back I pointed unwe could not understand why our
der the sink. A look of intelligence neighbors so carefully closed all came into his face. He fell on his their windows if the weather grew knees and began chopping wood on the least bit cool. Never have I felt
our stained floor. With many gessuch draughts as those which tor ticulations I got him into the hall to mented us in that house. They do his chopping and sawing, and, came from all directions, out of the after directions conveyed by motions, walls, up from the floor, through the board was put in. the crevices about the doors and Before we left the building the windows, circling around us in ed landlord came in and told us he dies. We were all fond of fresh would do anything he could for our air, but little by little we fell into the comfort. This was a great surprise ways of our neighbors and began and shows that it would be real misclosing windows until we grew sionary work for friends of the cause ashamed of our bad habits and in of better tenements to live for a sheer desperation covered our heads time in such houses and demand that and opened the windows. Will some the landlords do their duty, which investigator explain this? We surely is to make as comfortable as think it is bad building; nothing possible the people from whom they was well joined in our house.
collect their rents. It would be difficult to remember We remained in the house seven the number of trips made to the land months. We feel that they were lord to have only the necessary well spent, but we have no desire to things done. After repeated efforts continue the experiment. We found the nails were withdrawn from a
many difficulties in the way of comwindow sash into which twenty large fortable living. Though the house ones had been driven, but we never
was new, the odors soon became insucceeded in having the holes filled sufferable and the air from the and painted. They remain a testi- shaft, as I have mentioned before, mony to the way things are done and but which may well be repeated, beleft undone in a big tenement. We came so foul that we could not sleep in
the rooms opening on it without feel
TENEMENT-HOUSES. ing that we were taking a great risk. The stairs were usually so dirty that
(From the New York Sun.) it was unpleasant to use them, and
The Tenement-House Commisclothing was constantly being soiled
sion has begun a series of public with the contact. But how could this be helped? There was the traf- hearings, to get at the state of the fic of twenty-two families, where the public mind regarding the tenement
question and to prepare support for children had to run most of the errands, and they, of course, spilled may propose at Albany this winter.
such legislation as the commission things on their various journeys.
The first of these hearings had for And how could we hope to live
its subject tuberculosis, the scourge quietly with the noise from these
of the tenement. twenty-two families, with children
shown its suppression anywhere to running overhead and through the halls and crying, with furniture be
be largely a matter of stringent offi
cial regulation. ing moved about over bare floors,
A thickening of with the housekeeper scolding care
population increases the difficulties less tenants, and so on? So dark
of regulation, but prevention, neverwere the rooms that the gas had to
theless, is a question of effective be lighted at three o'clock and yet sanitary supervision, and therefore this house was called a light one.
not hopeless. From our short trial of living in a
For months past the Commission tenement house we are ready to plead
has been receiving testimony on this for the greatest effort toward better
score from builders, sanitary experts, homes for our working people, with
and reformers, with opinions. A
string of questions touching every larger rooms for the rent, and more
debatable point was submitted to pure air and sunlight, which should be free.
everybody interested. The answers received range from the complacent
acceptance of the inefficient and obThe annual meeting of the
structed fire escape as ample provi
sion against disaster, to the demand Emanu-el Sisterhood was held No
for all-fireproof tenements that vember 26. The report of the sec brooks no compromise; from the tion on the sick and needy showed doubting Thomas to whom the great that 1,310 cases were treated by unwashed are unwashed from choice, this section. At the application
to the believer in his fellow man who bureau there were 1,115 applica- will have nothing less than a bathtub
to every tenement flat. They emtions during the year; 865 were brace the view, somewhat belated, helped to employment, 102 were re which hails the airshaft as a deferred to the United Hebrew Chari- liverer and that other which conties, and 46 were not placed. Ad
demns it as a chief nuisance of evil
contrivance. The man who looks dresses were made by Prof. Frank
upon the whole problem as a praclin H. Giddings and Hon. John W.
tical question of enforcement of exKeller, president of the Department isting law has had his say with the of Public Charities.
one who would wipe the laws all out
with one fell blow, if it takes all the other phases of the tenement-house money in the treasury, and make a question that can affect the public fresh start. They have all spoken welfare.” It has sifted very thortheir mind. The commission can oughly the question of safety against not complain that it has not had ad- fire, and the facts are set forth in a vice enough.
report now in print. Nearly half It has studied, besides, the tene of all the fires in the city occur in ment-house laws that mark the suc tenement-houses, and a very large cessive steps in the fifty years' strug- proportion of these in the night. gle with this Frankenstein, and the It is then that the airshaft, transhousing conditions in all the big formed into a chimney flue, becomes American and European cities, some a source of great and instant peril good, some bad, all so different from to the tenants. There is room for those of New York that profitable serious consideration of every sugcomparison is made very difficult. It gestion that aims at making teneis satisfactory to know that Philadel ments safe against this danger. phia requires all tenements over four The moral question which is now stories high to be built fireproof agitating the city will receive special throughout; but Philadelphia has no consideration at a future hearing. tenements over four stories high. It is not a new one. The Council and mighty few as high as that, if it of Hygiene puzzled over it in 1864,
It adds to the beauty of and the Gilder Tenement-House Washington and to the comfort of Commission recommended, five years her people that Nero's enactment for ago, legislation which should punish Rome, setting seventy feet to the with greater severity both landlord height of her tenements, is in force and tenant found guilty of contamithere; dwelling houses are no higher nating tenement-house premises, as than the street is wide. But Wash- being public enemies. The suggesington has hardly a hundred houses, tion was not acted on then despite according to the committee's report, the showing of the commission that that would come into the category the evil was rapidly increasing. The of tenements as understood in New time would seem ripe for such action York, namely, that harbor three or more families living independently. The subject goes back ever to
The Greater New York has more over-crowding as the great difficulty. than eighty-six thousand tenements, How is it to be prevented? How are with two and a quarter million ten the evils inherent in the twenty-fiveants living in them. Nevertheless, foot lot to be minimized ? Stringent until quite recently New York, too, ordinances, midnight inspections, had followed the lead of ancient have been tried and the crowds have Rome. It may be that as the bridges gone on increasing. Six hundred that will span her rivers let the cubic feet per sleeper was made the crowds out to other fields she will rule; the "demands of the situation" return to the Roman practice and brought it down in practice to 400. cease climbing up.
All measures alike have failed, and The commission has power to to-day forty Italian families may be examine, besides the houses, the mor found camping in flats intended for als of those who live in them and "all sixteen. It is suggestive that the
plan brought forward now was the It has been proven abundantly, say one urged by the first citizens' tene many of the special advocates of ment-house committee, that of li better tenements, that it is commercensing the house to hold so many cially profitable to build good teneand no more. The plan has the ments, models in all respects, even clear advantage of compelling at
Manhattan Island. On that once the effective registration of all showing it is fair to prohibit the tenements, vainly attempted before, building of houses that are unfit to and of enabling the tenement police live in, and in which the home can to keep tab on their tenants as well not thrive. That is the gist of the as on the landlords.
whole matter, and in any reasonable It is for the commission and for effort to that end the commission the community to discourage bad will have the hearty and intelligent tenement-house builders. The ques- support of the community which it tion was raised before the last com serves. mission, and may be raised again before this one whether the com
The town authorities of Pelham, munity may not also encourage good N. Y., are trying a novel scheme to builders by a rebate of taxes without force the payment of back taxes on incurring censure for undue pater- real estate. They will put poor nalism. Vienna has tried the scheme people of the town in possession of and the outcome of the experiment the vacant land which has been sold will be looked for with interest. The
for the non-payment of taxes, and early reports were that building had
which is now held by the town been overstimulated to the loss in under leases. stead of the gain of the builder. It is the history of radical propositions That model tenements can be built of the sort that they lie over, after
in New York city with a reasonable having been raised, to allow public sentiment to catch up with them if commercial return to investors is there is good in them. That is the abundantly proved by the fact that sense of having a tenement-house the City and Suburban Homes Comcommission every five years to go pany, now in its third year of operover the ground.
ation, has raised its dividend rate to New York's housing problem is the problem of its metropolitan
four per cent per annum, and has is
sued a circular to stockholders ingrowth, not easy to solve, but to be · solved at any cost, for at bottom it is viting subscription to an issue of the question of the home from which $500,000 additional capital stock, to proceeds citizenship, good or bad as
carry into effect a plan to build tenethe home may be. Governor Roose
ments on the land immediately advelt was right in saying, when he appointed the commission, that its task joining the company's First avenue was more important than that of the estate. This will mean the covering Charter Revision Commission. It of almost an entire city block with may not say the last word in this model tenements. More than onematter; but it should be possible for half of the $500,000 was subscribed it to say a sensible and helpful one. within a week by stockholders alone.