Fighting for Life

By Helen Epstein

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New York’s Lower East Side was said to be the most densely populated square mile on earth in the 1890s. Health inspectors called the neighborhood “the suicide ward.” Diarrhea epidemics raged each summer, killing thousands of children. Sweatshop babies with smallpox and typhus dozed in garment heaps destined for fashionable shops. Desperate mothers paced the streets to soot New York’s Lower East Side was said to be...

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September 24th 2013 by NYRB Classics

(first published January 1st 1939)

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