City of Dreadful Night—Peter Hall
Journalist WT Stead promoted Andrew Mearn‟s Bitter Cry of Outcast London (1883).
Not first to decry slum living, but “pin that pricked the bubble”. Core problem of slums
was that people were (Hall‟s words) “overwhelmingly, grindingly poor”. Root of
problem couldn‟t be addressed w/o state coordination.
o Too poor to leave; had to live close to any work opportunity; so overwhelmingly
crowded conditions. Crime often payed more than labor
o Cross Act 1875 allowed for slum clearance, but no re-housing
Outside of London, Pub Hlth Act 1875 gave some power to localities to act; chaos
remained in the capital though. Royal Commission of 1885 reaffirmed old bills: Torrens
Act 1868 allowed local authorities to build labor housing. Problems remained; Royal
Commiss. told poor to take an interest in their plight.
Britain began to lose ground to German‟s econ power. Violence in the air due to econ
slide. Governing class expressed guilt of city‟s decline—was likely largely just fear of
working class insurrection. Mon stormed Abbey in 1887.
Charles Booth collected data in poor in 1887 largely to show no worry of an eminent
social danger. Classified into 4 types:
o Class A: 1.25% of popul. that led a savage life and were barbarians. Class B: 11% in
“chronic want” for work, play, food, and loving. Shiftless. Saw their removal from
daily existence as a solution to poverty. Class C: 8% suffered from irregularity of
their earnings. Class D: 15% with chronic low wages. Mapped data from yellow
(respectable) to black (vice) by street!
Housing seen as the heart of the problem. „Collective power‟ only way to rehouse
London‟s poor. Housing of the Working Class Act 1890 lacked mandate, but opened
door for local authorities to take control.
Drama played out in London, but Paris had 2x density. Berlin VERY crowded with very
poor housing standards. Health seen as an issue; fewer healthy men for army. Seen as a
state issue; greater state subsidy post WWI.
NYC embodied the Amer. approach. Jabob Riis‟ How the Other Half Lives (1890)
showed the city as a parasite on the nation and the immigrant as a corrupter of Amer
racial purity and soc harmony. Again, problem was extreme poverty and econ
immobility b/c lacked language.
NYC dumbbell tenements began 1879 (see mid p.38 for description/photo p. 41) .
Tenement Housing Comm (THC) 1894 achieved little. THC 1900 led to “most
significant regulatory act” in Amer housing history—created meticulous space, fire,
plumbing standards. Also rejected London public hosing model b/c could not fit a
market system. Jane Addams and Amer reform model also attempted to assimilate the
immigrant by moral example or coercion.
Underlying problem poverty in every city, but was invisible in rural areas, even though it
was worse. New soc relationships were created with industrialization and urbanization.