III-"The Tenement House Question" - Helen Campbell - Sunday Afternoon

III-"The Tenement House Question" - Helen Campbell - Sunday Afternoon

by: Helen Campbell | publication date: April 1, 1879 | Publication: Sunday Afternoon | pages: 317-323

"Civilization! Oh, how I detest that word!" said the Bachelor of the company, throwing away his paper and marching up and down the room. "Here is this report from the Board of Health, and I defy you to find in the darkest of the dark ages anything worse than the condition of the tenement houses of this city. I believe the peasant of the thirteenth century to have been incomparably better off than the man of the same social grade to-day. Suppose he did live in a windowless hut with an earth floor. At least the air of heaven could find its way in. Is there anything in the imaginations of either Milton or Swedenborg, fouler or more pestilential than the sewage and sink exhalations surrounding and permeating those horrible structures. Leave thorn, however, and take this very one we are in."

This article recounts a meeting between a group of New York City's social reformers as they discuss how to best to deal with the problem of tenements. Campbell engages in debate with a person she calls "The Bachelor," who believes that the responsibility lies with the property owners and architects to design and administer humane housing to the city's poor. Campbell, on the other hand, believes that the legislators of New York must pass new housing and sanitary laws. Campbell's articles published in Sunday Afternoon, along with those in Lippincott's Magazine, were reprinted in a book titled "The Problem of the Poor" (1888).

Public domain, online article.