Echoes of the Past: Life in Tenements. By Samuel Barney. Introduction. To help you feel for the pain people went through in tenements, I would like you to imagine yourself in the story I’m about to tell. America.
By Samuel Barney
To help you feel for the painpeople went through in tenements,I would like you to imagine yourselfin the story I’m about to tell.
Your name is KadenQualerei, a German immigrant.You came to America with your wife, Jalay, your son, Verrater, and your grandfather Vorhange. you came in hopes of finding a stable way of life.
Many immigrants from around the world came to America. Most of them came looking for work, or to escape problems in their home countries.
Excited and confused, your family gets off the boat that brought you to New York, you’re finally in America. Only a few other German immigrants from the boat speak your language, and your ears are filled with the unintelligible shouts of those around you. Your family holds each others hands as you leaves the docks, looking for somewhere to start your new life.
Though there were places like little Italy, where an ethnic group came together in mass, many people had trouble interacting with Americans and other immigrants. In this families case, they will be isolated from other people outside of their tenement.
After a few hours of wandering, you find a tenement with a sign in German: the Gefangnis. You convince the landlord, Geiz, to let you live in his tenement for a week, so that you can get a job. As you get settled in your new home, you can hear Geiz shouting at a neighbor down the hall, he is evicting them.
Eviction was not uncommon, unemployed families could no longer afford their rent and were forced to the streets.
Your new home is only two rooms, a kitchen and a bedroom. You and you sleep on the floor so that the others can sleep in comfort. The smell of burnt food from another room reminds you of your hunger, but you cannot eat until you get a job.
You were lucky you got your job, you took the same job of your evicted neighbor, a factory worker. your entire family has found jobs as well, Jalay and Verrater are working in the factories as well, but in different rooms than you. You only see your wife and child at home for a few minutes at home before you lie down in exhaustion. What you see are faces covered in soot, they don’t look like you remember them.
Returning from work, your grandfather climbs up the unlit stairs. A sudden misstep and he falls down, breaking his neck. You don’t have the money for a funeral.
It was not until the Housing Law of 1901 that lighting was required in hallways. Also, the act also made fire escapes and private restrooms mandatory.
Your son has lost his job, a major loss the families income. Worries for your family weigh down upon your shoulders, you can’t think straight during work, depression nests deep within your mind.
While looking for work, your son found a new job, yours. Because they can pay him less, they prefer him over you, further neutering your income. You seek refuge from the pain in alcohol.
Summer rolls in, and your family makes a fatal mistake, you buy too much food and the heat spoils most it. with no money to buy more food, your son dies of starvation.
No one wants to hire the alcoholic you have become. The only thing that stops Geiz from evicting you is the pity of your neighbors, but who knows how long that will last.
The freezing winters of New York sneak up on the remains of your once proud family. Your wife's once ardent devotion to you has faded with the summers heat. The water pump outside is the only source of water for the tenement, and it froze, your wife dies of dehydration. While others gather for Christmas, praying for happiness, you are alone.
The time pity has bought you is over, Geiz no longer needs you wasting space in his tenement and kicks you out into the unforgiving streets of new york.
With no one to support you, you have nothing left. Starvation claims you as another victim. You are now one of the forgotten, no one will remember you.