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Genesis Of The Tenement.
Poverty is the source of evils, diseases and deaths as depicted by the tenants in this tenement story. Due to overcrowding, filthy living conditions among other factors provide favourable conditions for the spread of communicable diseases such as cholera, and in the long run result to numerous deaths. The author outlines that large rooms were being partitioned into several small rooms without considering the aspects of light and ventilation (Jacob p.7-10).
Overcrowding has been reported to claim numerous deaths of innocent children due to suffocation in the foul atmosphere that inhabit the unventilated houses. In addition, the author outlines poverty as a state that squeezes an individual to a beggary state. That is, the class of tenantry living made the victims survive from hand to mouth, improvident in habits, loose in morals and degraded lifestyle. Additionally, poverty provided an opportunity for the middlemen to exploit the poor since the increased demand of small houses made more and more wealthy neighbours who owned the old houses to start partitioning them (Jacob p.7-10).
The story took place in New York. This is because, after the war of 1812, tremendous immigration took place together with the hustle and bustle of the trade that led to approximately hundred thousand city`s residents to harbour approximately half a million individuals. However, the tenant-houses that were initially built by the original owners as decorous homes were turned as places of harbouring these promiscuous immigrants. The large rooms were partitioned into many small rooms without considering lighting and ventilation aspects. However, these small houses became imminent blessings to the hardworking poor immigrants working in stores, workshops, thoroughfares and warehouses (Jacob p.7-10).
The tenants of the tenements are the main subject of the text. The author demonstrates how the lives of tenants were characterized with several hardships due to overcrowding. Initially, the tenants lived in spacious single rooms, but the influx of immigrants led to the development of tenements, which were poorly lit, ventilated and cramped. The tenants had to suffer from non-communicable diseases; as a result, of overcrowding while other had to die due to suffocation from filthy air. Besides, the estate owners had to convert the houses and blocks into barracks in order to accommodate the high number of tenants that had clogged in the city. Therefore, the entire lives of tenants’ serve as the main subject that the author tries discusses in the text (Jacob p.7-10).
Genesis of the tenement depicts the history of New York during the nineteenth century. The period was characterised by the movement of people towards the America’s cities leading to overcrowding. There were more thousands of newly arrived immigrants, who came to America to seek for better life than those that were left behind in their initial settlements. As a result, the population in the New York City doubled and the buildings that were previously used for single-family dwelling became a multiple dwelling places to accommodate the growing population. The emergence of tenements resulted from the big population that concentrated in city’s lower East Side neighbourhood. The tenements were cramped, poorly ventilated, no indoor plumbing, and poorly lit. Most of the people, about two-thirds of the New York City, lived in tenement housing. Consequently, there was a reduction in the quality of life and people had to die due to overcrowding and outbreak of communicable diseases such as cholera (Jacob p.7-10).
Jacob A. Riis. How the Other Half Lives; studies among the tenements of New York. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1939. 7-10.