Primary source:

As business began to boom and the national markets grew, more people began to move to the Northeast because they wanted jobs. Most people lived in the "slum" as depicted in the picture to the left. Five to nine people lived in a single room which was as big as an apartment. Not only was there not enough room, but more people got sick as well. Because everyone lived in terrible conditions and so close to one another, diseases spread rapidly and lack of medicine and medical care resulted in many deaths. At the time, population was increasing rapidly because of more people moving in, so apartments became more crowded and in worse condition. These were the people that lived every lives that had to fight for jobs and competed to live.

primary source:

During the first 60 years of the Industrial Revolution, living conditions were, by far, worst for the poorest of the poor. In desperation, many turned to the“poorhouses” set up by the government. The Poor Law of 1834 created workhouses for the destitute. Poorhouses were designed to be deliberately harsh places to discourage people from staying on “relief” (government food aid). Families, including husbands and wives, were separated upon entering the grounds. They were confined each day as inmates in a prison and worked every day.

In the rush to build houses, many were constructed too quickly in terraced rows. Some of these houses had just a small yard at the rear where an outside toilet was placed. Others were ‘back to back’ with communal toilets. Almost as soon as they were occupied, many of these houses became slums. Most of the poorest people lived in overcrowded and inadequate housing, and some of these people lived in cellars. It has been recorded that, in one instance, 17 people from different families lived in an area of 5 meters by 4 meters.

Sanitary arrangements were often non-existent, and many toilets were of the ‘earth closet’ variety. These were found outside the houses, as far away as possible because of the smell. Usually they were emptied by the ‘soil men’ at night. These men took the solid human waste away. However, in poorer districts, the solid waste was just heaped in a large pile close to the houses. The liquid from the toilets and the waste heaps seeped down into the earth and contaminated the water supplies. These liquids carried disease-causing germs into the water. The most frightening disease of all was cholera.

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