It was the stir and bustle of trade, together with the tremendous immigration that followed upon the war of 1812 that dislodged them.In thirty-five years the city of less than a hundred thousand came to harbor half a million souls, for whom homes had to be found.
The younger criminals seem to come almost exclusively from the worst tenement house districts, that is, when traced back to the very places where they had their homes in the city here.” Of one thing New York made sure at that early stage of the inquiry: the boundary line of the Other Half lies through the tenements.
It is ten years and over, now, since that line divided New York’s population evenly.
Nothing is left but to make the best of a bad bargain.
What the tenements are and how they grow to what they are, we shall see hereafter.
The owner was seeking a certain percentage on his outlay, and that percentage very rarely fell below fifteen per cent., and frequently exceeded thirty....
The complaint was universal among the tenants that they were entirely uncared for, and that the only answer to their requests to have the place put in order by repairs and necessary improvements was that they must pay their rent or leave.“When the great riot occurred in 1863,” so reads the testimony of the Secretary of the Prison Association of New York before a legislative committee appointed to investigate causes of the increase of crime in the State twenty-five years ago, “every hiding-place and nursery of crime discovered itself by immediate and active participation in the operations of the mob.Those very places and domiciles, and all that are like them, are to-day nurseries of crime, and of the vices and disorderly courses which lead to crime. at least—of crimes against property and against the person are perpetrated by individuals who have either lost connection with home life, or never had any, or whose ....The one way out he saw—rapid transit to the suburbs—has brought no relief.We know now that there is no way out; that the ‘system’ that was the evil offspring of public neglect and private greed has come to stay, a storm-centre forever of our civilization.The belief that every man’s experience ought to be worth something to the community from which he drew it, no matter what that experience may be, so long as it was gleaned along the line of some decent, honest work, made me begin this book. Tracy, the Registrar of Vital Statistics, has done for me what I never could have done for myself; for I know nothing of tables, statistics and percentages, while there is nothing about them that he does not know. Information on the subject has been accumulating rapidly since, and the whole world has had its hands full answering for its old ignorance.With the result before him, the reader can judge for himself now whether or not I was right. Wilson, and to Chief Inspector Byrnes of the Police Force I am indebted for much kindness. Most of all, I owe in this, as in all things else, to the womanly sympathy and the loving companionship of my dear wife, ever my chief helper, my wisest counsellor, and my gentlest critic. In New York, the youngest of the world’s great cities, that time came later than elsewhere, because the crowding had not been so great.Not long ago a great meeting was held in this city, of all denominations of religious faith, to discuss the question how to lay hold of these teeming masses in the tenements with Christian influences, to which they are now too often strangers.Might not the conference have found in the warning of one Brooklyn builder, who has invested his capital on this plan and made it pay more than a money interest, a hint worth heeding: “How shall the love of God be understood by those who have been nurtured in sight only of the greed of man?The story is dark enough, drawn from the plain public records, to send a chill to any heart.If it shall appear that the sufferings and the sins of the “other half,” and the evil they breed, are but as a just punishment upon the community that gave it no other choice, it will be because that is the truth.