II-"Sunday in Water Street" - Helen Campbell - Sunday Afternoon

The Bix-story tenement house, while less shaky than the one we had just left, was equally odorous, and how human beings lived through such pulling upon all the vital forces, I could not see. We passed familiar faces on two of the landings, and I found this house had gradually been filled by the "regulars" at the mission, and though a liquor saloon still continued below, hid thus altogether lost its former character as one of the most brawling, disorderly houses in the block. Up to the fourth floor, and a front room, overlooking the street; a room of tolerable size, but intolerable dirt, where four little children sat on the floor eating bread and molasses, while a man in the corner sat smoking. He nodded surlily, but said nothing, and I followed into an inner room; a dark bedroom, where no sunshine could ever reach, and which had the same heavy, oppressive smell I had noticed in the other house; a fog of human exhalations. Propped up in bed, for easier breathing was a woman in the last stages of consumption; a deep, red spot on each cheek, and her frame the merest skeleton.

Description:A continuation of Campbell's January article in Sunday Afternoon, where she recounts her experience spending a Sunday afternoon in the tenements of Lower Manhattan. In this installment, Campbell meets Jerry the bird collector and accompanies a man as he visits his dying mother. Campbell's articles published in Sunday Afternoon were later collected, along with those from Lippincott's Magazine, in a book titled "The Problem of the Poor" (1888).

Rights: Public domain, online article.