XIV-"Prisoners of Poverty: Women wage-workers, their trades and their lives" - Helen Campbell - New York Tribune

XIV-"Prisoners of Poverty: Women wage-workers, their trades and their lives" - Helen Campbell - New York Tribune

"The Widow Maloney's Boarders"

by: Helen Campbell | publication date: January 23, 1887 | Publication: The New York Tribune | pages: 10

And if the reader, like various recent correspondents, is disposed to believe that I am merely "making up a case," using a little experience and a great deal of imagination, I refer him or her to the forty-third annual report of the New York Association for the Improvement of the Condition of the Poor. There, in detail to a degree impossible here, will be found the official report of the inspector appointed to examine the conditions of life in the building known as "The Big Flat," in Mulberry Street. There are smaller houses that are worse in construction and condition, but there is none controlled by one management where so many are gathered under one roof. The first floor has rooms for fourteen families, the remaining five for sixteen each; and the census of 1880 gave the number of inhabitants as 478, a sufficient number to make up the population of the average village. The formal inspection and the report upon it were made in September, 1886, and the report is now accessible to all who desire information on these phases of city life. It is Mrs. Maloney herself whose methods best give us the heart of the matter, and who, having several callings, is the owner of an experience which appears to hold as much surprise for herself as for the hearer.

"Shure I foind things that interestin' that I 'm in no haste to be through wid 'em, an' on for me taste o' purgatory, not hintin' that there might n't be more 'n a taste," Mrs. Maloney said, on a day in which she unfolded to me her views of life in general, her small gray eyes twinkling, her arms akimbo on her mighty hips, and her cap-border flapping about a face weather-beaten and highcolored to a degree not warranted even by her present profession as apple-woman. Whether whiskey or stale beer is more responsible is unknown.

This week, Campbell turns her attention towards the living conditions of New York's poor and speaks with Mrs. Maloney, a resident of "The Big Flat," a notoriously crowded tenement house on Mulberry Street.