Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  7 (1883–84), 769–84.

Working-Men's Homes

R R Bowker




Bacteriology, Disease, Analogy, Railways, Utility, Aesthetics, Sanitation, Architecture

    Notes that the philanthropist Octavia Hill 'does not believe in hemming in work with the circumference of an association, but in providing centres whence good work may radiate, as the light streams from the sun', and observes, 'There is a germ theory of disease: this is the germ theory of cure' (770). Describes various plans for improving urban dwellings of the poor, but insists that the 'small house is the ideal home, and the "working-men's trains" of the suburban railways are doing missionary work. The Great Eastern Railway carries workmen to and from Enfield (eleven miles out) for a penny the trip' (779). Also remarks that 'One of the New York art galleries, in 1879, saw a strange sight: beauty had gracefully made way for utility, and instead of pictures, mysterious diagrams adorned the walls. These were plans in competition for a prize offered by The Sanitary Engineer for the best treatment of a city lot [...] for tenement purposes' (780). The winning design was 'what came to be known as "the dumb-bell plan"' which ensures that every apartment in a block 'has its own separate wash-room, and its own water-closet and ash-shoot' and no 'room or closet in any of the buildings is without a window opening upon the outer air' (781–82).

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