Obscura Society NY: Slums on the Lower East Side | Dystopia in America
The Lower East Side and the Civic Center, now teeming with well-heeled Manhattanites, was long a place of misery and struggle. An area once covered by a lake became the home of successive waves of poor immigrants. When it housed the Irish and African American communities the area was known as The Five Points. A few generations later massive waves of Irish and Italian immigrants followed and the slum was renamed Mulberry Bend. On the other side of the high ground, the Bowery and Chatham Square became gridded out streets that would go from a predominantly German neighborhood, Kleindeutschland, to an Eastern European influx of mainly Jewish immigrants, into what is now Chinatown.
Throughout the history of the neighborhood the housing of this influx of humanity was left in the hands of real estate developers. This tour will focus on the architectural evolution of housing for the immigrant working poor (and its utter failure to accommodate the reality of the situation).
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