A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 02, 2018
Lung Block

The term “Lung Block” described an area of the Lower East Side in the early 1900s where there were high instances of tuberculosis. The name was probably coined by Ernest Poole for the committee on the prevention of tuberculosis of the Charity Organization Society, who authored a pamphlet titled “Lung Block” in 1903.

In 1933-34, the neighborhood was replaced by Knickerbocker Village, a low-income housing project.


Wikipedia: Knickerbocker Village
Knickerbocker Village Limited is a lower middle class housing development situated between the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge, in the Two Bridges section of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City. Although the location was generally considered to fall in the Lower East Side, it has come to be thought of as part of Chinatown in recent years
(...)
History
The flamboyant real estate developer Frederick Fillmore French began construction of Knickerbocker Village in 1933 and completed it in 1934. As a project of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), which Congress authorized to extend loans to private developers for the construction of low-income housing in slum areas, Knickerbocker Village was the first apartment development in the United States to receive federal funding, with 98% of the money from the project going to the Knickerbocker Village. It provided 1,590 small apartments primarily to small middle-income families. The RFC was supposed to help revive the construction industry and increase the supply of low-income housing in New York.

When the United States Congress authorized the RFC to make loans on slum clearance projects, French picked out the worst block in his holdings and presented it as a worthy subject for clearance. His choice was “Lung Block,” so called because of its high tuberculosis mortality rate, where 650 families lived. French proposed to build a low-cost housing project. RFC lent 97% of the required $10,000,000.

The Lung Block: A New York City Slum & Its Forgotten Italian Immigrant Community
The Making of a Slum
In 1933, a lively Italian immigrant enclave on the Lower East Side was wiped from the map. For over three decades, Italian immigrants from northern and southern regions, speaking divers dialects, settled between the Brooklyn & Manhattan bridges, on the block bounded by Cherry, Monroe, Market and Catherine Street. A range of civic, cultural, social, and religious institutions grew up in and around the largely residential block, supporting the daily lives of thousands of families and individuals who called this place home.

Though this area was in many ways indistinguishable from the rest of the Lower East Side – a bustling, immigrant stronghold characterized by 5- and 6- story brick tenements and the occasional old house – since 1899, this particular block existed under the shadow of a sinister narrative: that death was embedded in the very walls of those buildings, and that this Lung Block—the generic term for a place where tuberculosis proliferated— represented a threat not just to the residents, but to the city at large.

6 September 1903, New York (NY) Times, pg. 21, col. 6:
FOR A NEW PLAYGROUND.
Breathing Space Badly Needed on the Lower East Side.
(...)
During the past ten years the population has increased 10 per cent, until now 45,000 people are crowded into the district closed by the East River, the New Bowery, East Broadway, and Pike Street.

The section contains what is known as the “Lung Block,” one of the worst tuberculosis scourged neighborhoods in the city.

Chronicling America
13 September 1903, New-York (NY) Tribune, pt. 2, pg. `, col. 2:
SOME PLAGUE SPOTS IN NEW-YORK.
IN ONE BLOCK 265 CASES OF TUBERCULOSIS WERE REPORTED IN NINE YEARS.
That there are some horrible plague spots in this city has been revealed in an investigation recently carried on by Ernest Poole for the committee on the prevention of tuberculosis, of the Charity Organization Society, and reported in a pamphlet entitled “The Lung Block.” The “Lung Block” is close to the East River in the Seventh Ward, one of the most congested of the city, a ward that is steadily, swiftly packing closer. Its boundaries are Cherry, Catharine, Market and Hamilton sts. “Between 1890 and 1900,” says Mr. Poole, referring to the Seventh Ward, “the density of its already crowded population increased no less than 65 per cent. Now it holds 478 humans to an acre. The “Lung Block” alone holds nearly four thousand, not to mention dogs, cats, parrots and one weazoned old monkey. Of the humans, some four hundred are babies.”

Google Books
A Handbook on the Prevention of Tuberculosis
Charity Organization Society of the City of New York, Committee on the Prevention of Tuberculosis
New York, NY: The Charity Organization Society
1903
Pg. 309:
“THE LUNG BLOCK “
“The Lung Block “ has well earned its name. It is bounded by the streets Cherry, Catharine, Hamilton, Market. It is close to the East River — to open air. It should be wholesome.

New York History Walks
January 11, 2012
Knickerbocker Village
Posted by nyhistorywalks in Manhattan, Two Bridges
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Tenement slums originally occupied the area upon which Knickerbocker Village stands. Other buildings that once stood here were handsome and fashionable houses, subdivided into smaller units to accommodate the neighborhood’s growing low-income population. 650 mostly-Italian families paid an average of $5 per room.The area became known as “Lung Block” due to its high number of reported tuberculosis cases; most apartments had few windows and inadequate ventilation.

Curbed—New York
How microbes ‘designed’ New York
From housing to streets and sewers, the city’s macro systems were shaped by microscopic organisms

By Diana Budds Oct 2, 2018, 10:34am EDT
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The overcrowded living conditions in tenement housing was considered a breeding ground for disease. One area with high rates of infection was nicknamed the “Lung Block” and other areas were called “Fever Nests.”

Twitter
Douglas Herbert
@dougf24
An early-19th century view of Lower #Manhattan’s so-called “Lung Block” - the future site of Knickerbocker Village. According to Ephemeral New York: “The name comes from the high number of residents who suffered from contagious respiratory illnesses such as tuberculosis.” #photo
1:47 AM - 6 Nov 2018

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityStreets • Sunday, December 02, 2018 • Permalink