Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/339

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SANITARY IMPROVEMENT IN NEW YORK. 325

tion was modified by placing a front and rear house npon the same lot, with a narrow alley between, thereby accommodating a greater number of families and more effectually depriving them of air and light. An act of the Legislature of 1879 required that the plans and specifications for light and ventilation of all tenement-houses thereafter erected be filed with the Health Department and receive its official approval before work can commence ; and in 1881 a similar requirement was applied to plans and specifications for the plumbing and drainage of all new buildings. Owners, builders, and plumbers are required to construct buildings according to the approved plans, and are vigorously prosecuted for any violation. Sanitary engineers are detailed to inspect as often as necessary every building in course of construction, to report violations of plans and specifications, to thoroughly test the plumbing, and to report the satisfactory completion of all work before the occupa- tion of the building is permitted. As the result of this important sanitary work, the New York tenement-house recently built is a model structure and can hardly be improved. A clear, unob- structed space of ten feet is required at the rear of every such house, with open courts in the interior sufficient in size to afford light and ventilation to every room. At least one water-closet with suitable appliances for flushing, well lighted, and ventilated by a separate air-shaft, must be provided for every fifteen persons. The cellars are lighted by windows to the external air, their floors are concreted, and their ceilings plastered or sealed with boards. The old hydrant in the yard, with its cesspool for receiving the slops and liquid waste of many families, has disappeared, and water is supplied to each apartment with suitable kitchen sinks and wash-tubs. The plumbing and drainage conform to the most ap- proved system, and earthenware pipes with leaky joints, and un- trapped and unventilated waste-pipes, are unknown in the modern tenement. The old tenement-houses are rapidly yielding to the en- croachments of business, and are replaced by factories, stores, and warehouses ; and this fact, together with the proper enforcement of the laws and regulations in respect to the erection of new houses and the conversion of private dwellings to the use of many families, practically solves the tenement-house problem.

3. Lodging-houses. The laws relating to the light, ventila- tion, plumbing, and drainage of tenement-houses in New York also apply to the numerous lodging-houses which shelter for a night at cheap rates the unemployed laborer, the homeless poor, and in some cases the vagrant and the outlaw. Twenty-five years since no supervision or sanitary control was exercised by the pub- lic authorities as to the character or condition of apartments used for lodgers of this class ; and cellars, dark, damp, and unventilated, were commonly occupied for this purpose and were distinguished

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