The Tenement Traps: A Spatial History of Tenement Housing on the Lower East Side (1850-1940) Open Access

Ditkoff, Julia (Spring 2019)

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My honors thesis focuses on architectural issues of tenement housing on the Lower East Side of Manhattan from 1850-1940. In an age without social media and live streaming, documentary photographers, such as Jacob Riis, had the power to bring lower class issues of overcrowding, fire hazards, air ventilation and overall vice to the general public. This paper, although based in art history, will take a spatial and interdisciplinary approach to the tenement epidemic -- analyzing not only photographs but also maps, architectural floor plans, and primary- source testimonies. As a native New Yorker, and relative of immigrants who travelled through Ellis island and arrived in these sorts of conditions, I have always had an interest in studying the tenements.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction ... 1

Historical/Topographical Foundation... 8

Overcrowding ... 11

Air Ventilation... 19

Fire Hazards... 25

Vice... 31

Conclusion... 36

Appendix... 40

Bibliography... 41

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