The Public Interest

The ethnic miracle

Andrew M. Greeley

Fall 1976

THE neighborhood is a 10-squareblock area with almost 14,000 people, an average of 39.8 inhabitants per acre-three times that of the most crowded portions of Tokyo, Calcutta, and many other Asian cities. One block contains 1,349 children. A third of the neighborhood’s 771 buildings are built on “back lots” behind existing structures; the buildings are divided into 2,796 apartments, with a ratio of 3.7 rooms per apartment.  More than three quarters of the apartments have less than 400 square feet. Tenants of the 556 basement apartments stand kneedeep in human excrement when even moderate rainstorms cause plumbing breakdowns. Garbage disposal is a chronic problemusually, trash is simply dumped in the narrow passageways between buildings. Nine thousand of the neighborhoods inhabitants use outdoor plumbing. The death rate is 37.2 per thousand per year. 

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