Apparently they had a lot of rain, the wooden walls at the foundations were already rotting and crumbling. And not only was this one tenement, there were 2 that fell. 2 months before they collapsed, tenants complained that when trains passed through or heavy wagons down the street, the walls would shake, their furniture would all shift, and the vibrations would knock items off walls and off tables. Window casings that were no doubt already sagging, would bulge when this happened and doors could not be closed or opened. According to some of the tenants, there was a yawning crack in the property. The landlord was informed of this problem and the tenants insisted a formal complaint be made to the proper authorities along with repairs being made.
Nothing was ever done, and the buildings fell. In addition to there being no mention of casualties in the newspaper, there was also no mention of property loss for these immigrants that were already poverty stricken with a typical household having 12 people sleeping on the floor of a 13 foot room, sharing one bathroom/outhouse to 20 people, and living in homes that most of the time had no windows at all, no running water, and they breathed in pollution from the nearby factories where the husbands worked. Yep, they were living in absolute squalor, and many of these women lost children. 1 out of 10 babies born, died. Typhus, cholera and a few other diseases ran rampant in these types of cramped conditions, and it was common to have home wakes because there was no such thing as funerals at this point.
This information and these pics are taken from: http://www.maggieblanck.com/NewYork/Life.html
Home Wake’s looked like this:
If Edward was one of the landlords, what does this say about him? Of course he was younger back then, but what could his excuse be for why he did nothing to stop this disaster from occurring?
Now, let’s move on to Isabella. What’s her situation with money?
Well, we already know that since there are 2 other widows living in her tenement, she can’t live there rent free by working it off. We also know she took some of the money from the bets she won (but not all) when she beat Edward’s ass down, but we don’t know why she took that specific amount.
Here’s a breakdown though of her usual wages and where her money goes:
Say she makes $.28 per hour (that’s how much a construction worker made, so this seemed fairly comparable), that means her weekly pay would be $11.20 per week, making her monthly wage $44.80. Her house rent is $5 per month. giving her $39.80 left for the month.
Cost of food:
Flour $.13 for 5 lbs
round steak $.14
pork chops $.14
dozen eggs $.22
milk 1/2 gallon $.14
This all comes down to $1.06 for meat, dairy and flour. She’d probably spend another dollar on fresh produce she’d set out on the fire escape since there was not a way to refrigerate this stuff.
So, maybe $9 on groceries per month, if we’re being conservative, leaving her with $30.80.
She can bathe for free in the public floating baths, though it was often crowded, or she could use any section of the river like most of the poor people did.
What about clothes, art supplies, any kind of entertainment? Clothes she can mend as she’s mentioned, but she’d have to go without certain items. Art supplies are her livelihood, so she’d probably have to pay at least a $4 per month, leaving her now at $26.80. She would probably try to give Rose at least $6 per week to pay for her own rent and food, which is $24. What about coal to heat her room or logs for the fire? Would she go without? She obviously had to walk everywhere since there’s no way she has money for public transportation. So, now she’s left with $2.80. I don’t know if they had to pay for water, but I’m assuming they did, which would probably mean at this point, she was completely broke.
Now can we see why she flipped out when Edward wouldn’t sign her bank note in chapter 1, and she was without her weekly wages? Who knows if they even gave her consistent work all week long, so it may have been partial wages, depending on how much work they gave her to do.
It was a hard life for those that lived in the tenements on the lower east side of Manhattan. Roman’s death 8 years before means she’s been struggling for quite some time.
It was mentioned Edward was in her underclothes in this chapter. Men’s underwear was called a union suit. It was made of knitted material, had a flap in front and back.
The Edwardian era was during King Edward VII’s reign from 1901 to 1910. That was considered the last time in popular culture that the full mature woman’s figure was considered beautiful and desirable. The corset helped make the waist smaller and exaggerate the hips and bust.
I love how the men’s underwear were so boring and just plain functional, yet the women yanked themselves into these contraptions where they could barely breathe, to tempt the men. Now I feel less guilty about wearing skinny jeans to show off my ass from time to time. ;D
I love these pictures from this website from stage actresses at the time. Showcases their costumes, the rouge they wore on their cheeks, vibrant colors, and again, the accented tiny waist from the corset. http://www.darvillsrareprints.com/dramahome.htm
I could imagine Rose wearing those last 2 outfits along with red rouge.
Now, here are some fabulous pics of corsets from the early 1900’s where you can see how tiny they made their waists, and what their knickers looked like as well:
And here’s a pic of a man getting read for a fist fight. Love it!
I imagine Edward looking similar to this except taller, so a little bit of a leaner look, and no mustache. Yeah, I’d pay to watch him fight.