Out of stock

SKU: AM00227 Category:


Description: In 1899, Lawrence Veiller, the Secretary of the Tenement House Committee of the Charity Organization Society of the City of New York, sent a letter to Albany architect Marcus T. Reynolds notifying him of a design competition “of all phases of the Tenement House Problem.” Veiller included an informational sheet for Reynolds to look at, telling him “I am sure that this matter will interest you, and I shall be very glad to have any suggestions from you that you may make.” Veiller goes on to ask Reynolds: “Can you tell me where I can procure a copy of your study on the Housing of the Poor made in 1893? I desire to secure a bound copy if possible as I wish it for our tenement house library.”

The Tenement House Committee’s exhibition was to take place in December of 1899 and would include: “a number of models representing: a. A block of existing tenements taken from some block in the city. b. A block of tenements as it would appear if each house were built on the present “dumb bell” plan. c. A number of blocks of model tenements scientifically planned.” Architects entering the competition were to make a plan “for a model unit which will embody advantages of economy of construction, convenience of plan, good light and ventilation, cheerful outlook, and as great as possible a concentration of light and air space.” If the exhibition was successful, the committee planned to repeat it in other cities, including Boston and Chicago, and to send part of it to the Paris Exposition of 1900. 

Soon after this exhibition, the New York State Tenement House Act (1901) was enacted. Before this law was passed, the Tenement House Act of 1879 required that every inhabitable room have a window, a requirement which was met by including air shafts between adjacent buildings, which led to the “dumbbell” shape of New York City tenements.

Marcus T. Reynolds (1869-1937) was a prominent architect who designed dozens of buildings still extant in the greater Albany, New York area – including some of the most recognizable structures in the city, such as the D&H Headquarters (now SUNY Plaza).

Letter measures: 10” x 7 ¾”. Informational sheet printed on two pages measures: 11” x 8 ½”. Item #AM00227

Condition: Fold lines, one fold line reinforced with archival tissue/tape, small tear along a fold line at top margin, otherwise very good condition.