Saturday, January 23, 2010

Brooklyn's 16th Ward Ghetto in 1899

Another article, this one from an 1899 edition of the Brooklyn Daily-Eagle, in which a reporter is taken on a tour of the then Sixteenth Ward--the Brunswick/East Williamsburg area of Brooklyn--and reports on the deplorable conditions he found there. The article starts in part:

There are many sweatshops in the Sixteenth Ward Ghetto which, from time to time, have been inspected by the Health authorities of this borough.... Great numbers of garments, cheap and costly, such as are worn by men, women and children, are made in these shops, and these goods are sold in every borough of Greater New York. For this reason, my reader, if for no other, you have a personal interest in this Ghetto, as you will see even by even brief reflection. For the germs of deadly disease maybe conveyed long distances in clothing. The makers of these skirts, cloaks, shirts, trousers, overcoats and children's clothing are, for a great part, Polish and Russian Jews, who toil in such unsanitary shops....and [they] live in miserable little rooms of poorly constructed old wooden tenements. Hundreds of these toilers cannot speak English, are unfamiliar with our laws and customs, have come from lands in which oppression and dire poverty drove them into wretched habitations from which pure air, sunshine and the water necessarily to cleanliness were shut out....

You can read the full article at
You can chooose from more than one hundred other articles published around the turn of the twentieth century at

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