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Tenement House

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TENEMENT HOUSE, a multiple dwell ing arranged for the occupation of several families, each of which can live independently and do its cooking within its apartment. The legal definition varies somewhat in different cities. In New York, Philadelphia, Washing ton, Buffalo and other cities, it ts such a house for more than two families. In Chicago, Boston and Saint Louis the line is drawn at more than three families. Tenement house is a generic term, including what are popularly called apart ment houses and flat houses or flats, as well as tenements. The attempt has sometimes been made in framing tenement-house laws or regu lations to distinguish between apartment and tenement houses, but no satisfactory line of separation has ever been suggested, nor is there any legal regulation properly applicable to ten ement houses, as popularly defined, which should not equally apply to apartment houses, or which presumably would not be adopted by intelligent owners of such houses from motives of self-inferest.

movement to better the housing conditions of the working classes in cities, which originated about the middle of the 19th century and has gradually become national in character in the United States and Great Britain. In the United States it has taken the form of the regulation by State law or city ordinance of the construction, main tenance and care of tenement houses, whence its title. In Great Britain this movement has been directed to all kinds of houses, including tene ment houses, and is usually called by its more generic title of "Housing Reform?' The initia tive of the movement has been benevolent im pulse, but the strong forces behind it which have given impulse to that initiative and have united to carry the movement forward have been the same which have evolved sanitary and building regulations and are .founded quite as much on self-interest as altruism.

History.— The movement for tenement house reform in the United States naturally be gan in New York, its largest city, where the need for regulation first became apparent, and may be said to date from 1842, when Dr. John H. Griscome, the city inspector of the board of health, called attention to tenement conditions in a special report on the sanitation of the city.

It has since extended to almost all large cities in which tenement houses have been erected, and has taken the form sometimes of State law, as in New York and Massachusetts, or more often of city ordinance, as in Chicago and Phil adelphia. The legislation in New York is the result of the investigations and recommenda tions of successive State commissions, and the scope of inquiry of the last commission, which is typical, has been "To make a careful exam ination into the tenement houses in cities of the first class; their condition as to the construc tion, healthfulness, safety, rentals and the cf fect of tenement-house life on health, education, savings and morals of those who live in tene ment houses and all phases of the so-called tenement-house question in these cities that can affect the public welfare?' The chief subjects of tenement-house regulation may be grouped under three general classes: protection against fire and means of escape in case of fire, light and ventilation and sanitary protection, the lat ter including water supply, water-closet accom modation and the prevention of overcrowding.

Fire Protection— Protection against fire is almost universal. Structural provisions directed to this end are contained in the building laws of all cities. In New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Jersey City, Providence, Syracuse and Nashville all tenements must have fire escapes. All tenements over two stories in height must have fire escapes in Saint Louis, Baltimore, Louisville. Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Denver, Toledo and Columbus. In Chicago, Cleveland and Cincinnati this rule only applies to tenements over three stories in height. In many cities tenements must be fire-proof throughout when over a certain height. In Philadelphia this is true of all over four stories; in Washington of those over five stories; in New Yark, Buf falo, Louisville, Minneapolis and Denver of those over six stories in height. In Boston the limit is 65 feet.

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