IV-"Six Stories in One" - Helen Campbell - Sunday Afternoon

IV-"Six Stories in One" - Helen Campbell - Sunday Afternoon

by: Helen Campbell | publication date: May 1, 1879 | Publication: Sunday Afternoon | pages: 393-398

"One hundred and eighty-two people in that one house 1 Where do they put them ? " I said. " I know there are ninety where the O'Brien's live, and that is crowded. This is no larger?"

"No. They're the same, but I'll tell you how they do it," said Mrs. McAuley's quiet voice. " You've seen a good deal, but you haven't been in it as we have. Now I'll tell you what I know about every one of those floors, and there's six with the basement. To begin with, there's four families to a floor. They're packed because they have to be. The men get little work and have nothing to pay for better rooms. The topfloor has a family for every room, that is if you choose to call it a family. They're rag pickers mostly. Four men and three women live together in one of them and pay four dollars a month. Married? Oh, no ! There's one widow on that floor. She has a back-room and takes seven boarders. I've seen the floor thick with them at night."

In this article, Campbell discusses the housing conditions and crime rampant in the tenements of Lower Manhattan with some of the residents who live there, including Jerry and Old Padgett, two characters who appear repeatedly in her vignettes of the inner-city. Campbell ends her piece by calling for a hands-on, service oriented approach to Christianity, denouncing its "dead doctrines" that do nothing to improve the conditions of the city's poor. Campbell's articles published in Sunday Afternoon magazine were later collected, along with those from Lippincott's Magazine, in a book titled "The Problem of the Poor" (1888).

Public domain.