Health of New York's German Immigrants

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German family in a tenement during Christmas
German family in a tenement during Christmas[1]


Like many immigrants the Germans also lived in the tenements. Conditions in tenements barely met minimum requirements for survival. The rooms were small and whole families were piled in these small rooms where every member had to fight to breathe because of the lack of windows or any sort of ventilation. Even as time progressed and members began to fight for better living conditions in tenements little was done. Although, ventilation was improved by providing a air shaft between buildings many of the immigrants throw waste into the little crack provided, which would in end gather bacteria and turn many residents ill. To further aid the disintegration of life was the lack of a sewage system, causing the excrement to be deposited at the bottom of the air shaft.

After Tenements

Germans quickly raised in mobile social ladder of New York and quickly moved out of tenements. But even when Germans moved out of tenement conditions life was not any easier. In order to keep the new shelter many families had to have both parents working or some heads had to work longer hours while wives worked with needles at home. But, there were those that became high class, usually those that owned parlors. Many were middle class and intended to keep it that way no matter how hard it became.[2]


  2. Nadel, Stanley . Little Germany: ethnicity, religion, and class in New York City, 1845-80. Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1990. Print.