Buffalo Evening News March 16, 1893
Children Reared in Airless Tenements
Are Like The Tenements Themselves
THE AWFUL REVERE BLOCK
It Can Not Be Cleaned Up Because
Mr. Schoellkopf Is Out of Town and
No One Else Is Responsible For It -
Why Ordinances Are Needed
(05.13.02) J. F Schoellkopf, the millionaire tanner, is the owner of the Revere block on Canal street. That plague spot with its overcrowded rooms, its lack of all sanitary arrangements, its sickening and disease-breeding water closets, is in just the condition it has been in for several years, and which the Board of Health has not the power to abate without the ordinances being adopted they are trying to have passed.
A pretty good description of this awful block was given in Monday's NEWS and has had the effect of stirring up the people who are interested in the welfare of the poor Italians in the block. If there is not a general exodus from the Revere block inside of a few weeks it will be surprising. The Italians who have been in this country for a long time and have been prosperous, have awakened to the necessity of helping their less fortunate countrymen to live in better rooms. The tenement houses along the Lower Terrace are rapidly developing into an Italian colony. Most of these houses are in good sanitary condition and the Italians who live in them are contented. They do not pay any more rent than those in the Revere block, the Fly and State street tenements and other places in the vicinity.
Mr. Dean Wilson of the Board of Health has been engaged in the past few days in drawing up a plan to improve the Revere block's sanitary arrangements. It is no easy job, but he expects to finish it today. When he does finish them it is a speculative matter whether the changes will be made or not.
'Without the ordinances we have been fighting for," said Dr. Wende this morning, 'We can practically do nothing. We cannot arrest the owner. If I declare the place uninhabitable and close it up Mr. Schoellkopf can walk into the Supreme Court and ask an injunction restraining me from doing anything. If we had ordinances to follow and could hold the janitor or agent of that building responsible for its condition things would be different. As often as he violated the ordinances we could pull him into court and fine or imprison him, and in that way keep these tenements in the condition they should be in. Our hands are tied now and we can practically do nothing until these ordinances are adopted."
'What about the Imperial Block at Canal and Erie streets?"
"Mr. Radford, the owner, has a staff of plumbers in the building making the changes we suggested. He has a few days longer to work and I feel sure will make the changes, for he says he is anxious to have the block in good shape."
"Doctor, how about the Allen Block where scarlet fever has broken out?"
"The chances are the bad sanitary condition of the block is responsible for the disease, but we will not be sure about that until we see whether any other cases break out. There is a good deal of scarlet fever in town. Some of it is on Delaware avenue and in houses where sanitary arrangements are perfect. But we are not going to have the health of the people endangered in that block, and Mr. Wilson is going down to make a thorough inspection and will undoubtedly find a plan that will place the block in better shape. Here, again, ordinances are badly needed. If there was a janitor in charge there we could go right to work and make him place the block in proper condition. It is unfortunate that scarlet fever has broken out there, but unless there is a spread of the disease we will not be able to tell whether the building is to blame or not. That is a peculiar disease."
"How is it there is such little sickness in the tenements where the people are packed in like sardines?" a NEWS man asked Dr. W. W. Heath, Dr. Wende's assistant.
"That's easily explained," was the reply. "Just as soon as they are stricken down with a disease the Poor master is appealed to for help. He sends then to the hospitals and they are conveyed there as fast as the ambulance can remove them. That is the reason the owners of these tenements can say there are no deaths in their places. Their sick are sent to hospitals when there is any danger of them dying. If you look closely at these unfortunate children who are born in these places and grow up there, you will find they are weak and puny. It is on account of the box-like, stuffy little rooms, the bad sanitary arrangements and poor food. Nine-tenths of the children have rickets. They are bow-legged, unhealthy, dwarfish and cannot be otherwise as long as they live this way."
If the Board of Health does suggest improvements in the Revere block will Mr. Schoellkopf make them?
Nobody knows. A NEWS reporter called at his office yesterday afternoon to ask him. He was not there. The clerks said he was out of town and would not be back for several days. Nobody was authorized to speak or act for him.
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