New York 's Housing Problems

Better Essays

New York’s housing problems in the 19th century was the result of a mix of factors such as increased immigration, rising rents and shortage of affordable housing supply. The sudden influx in the city’s population led to emergence of tenements in the 1840s and 50s, built specifically to accommodate large numbers of low-income people. Tenements soon became the dominant form of working class housing.

Recognized for its profitability, tenements began to emerge in increasing numbers. This can be explained by the emergent form of developer practice brought about by industrialization which Engels describes in “The Great Towns”, where he sheds light on the commodification of housing in working class districts in Manchester – “the industrial epoch allows owners to rent [housing] for high prices to human beings, to plunder the poverty of the workers, to undermine the health of thousands in order that they alone, the owners may grow rich…Wherever a nook or corner was free, a house has been run up; where a superfluous passage remained, it has been built up…without reference to the health or comfort of the inhabitants, with sole reference to the highest possible profit on the principle that no hole is so bad but that some poor creature must take it who can pay for nothing better.” This sentiment was similarly echoed by Jacob Riis in How the Other Half Lives, “more than one-half of the tenements with two-thirds of their population were held by owners who made the keeping of them a

Get Access
Get Access