Bowery. After nightfall the streets were lighted with oil lamps; each householder was obliged to keep the part of the thoroughfare in front of his own house clean swept. There were large markets for vegetables, fruits, and meat, brought in by the neighboring farmers, and for fish and game,Long Island furnishing abundance of venison, and of prairie fowl, or, as they were then called, heath hens. Hickory wood was generally used for fuel; the big chimneys being cleaned by negro sweep boys. Milk was carried from house to house in great cans, by men with wooden yokes across their shoulders. The well-water was very bad; and pure spring-water from without the city was hawked about the streets in carts, and sold by the gallon.
The sanitary condition of the city was very bad. A considerable foreign immigration had begun,though a mere trickle compared to what has come in since,and these immigrants, especially the Irish, lived in cellars and miserable hovels. Every few years the city was scourged by a pestilence of yellow fever. Then every citizen who could, left town; and among those who remained, the death rate ran up far into the hundreds.
As the city grew, the class of poor who were unable, at least in times of stress, to support themselves, grew likewise; and organized charities were started in the effort to cope with the evil.