The New York City Tenements in the Progressive Era

Kelly, Audrey, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Nelson, Louis, PV-Ofc of Exec VP & Provost, University of Virginia
Crane, Sheila, AR-Arch History Dept, University of Virginia
Higginbotham, Carmenita, AS-Art, University of Virginia

This thesis examines the tenement as a building type and a complicated social landscape in the decades before federally supported public housing. It considers the New York City tenements in the Progressive Era context. It unites three important aspects of the tenements: their fire escapes as public features, the tenement as a socially marginalized and disreputable building type, and model tenements as reform attempts. The first chapter will investigate fire escapes as public features of the New York City tenements. Chapter Two will examine how Jacob Riis and the issue of prostitution made the tenement building type a socially marginalized and disreputable space. Chapter Three will examine the history of model tenements. It will also assess the role of model tenements as Progressive reform attempts. The thesis will demonstrate that the Progressive Era was a critical point for the tenements as a building type and a complicated social landscape.

MARH (Master of Architectural History)
New York City, Tenements, Progressive Era, Reform, Fire Escapes
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