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Dwelling and Domesticity (1899)

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The well-to-do residents are displaced not only by the termination of leases that precedes the conversion of apartments into stores and offices, but also by the increasing noise and clamor in these quarters, and especially by the trendiness that makes other quarters fashionable. Thus, those who have reached a certain financial level, and are no longer forced to live in a few gloomy rooms behind a store, will leave for a more outlying part of the city. The situation is worse for the small shopkeepers who must have their apartments and stores on one floor or at least in one house; the rising rent for stores also raises apartment rents, and one has to get by with fewer rooms, or take in pensioners, lodgers [Zimmerherrn], or night-lodgers [Schlafgänger]. This is the first step toward the destruction of the home or the beginning of seriously deplorable living conditions.

It is the common people, however, who are most solidly entrenched in the center: sometimes it is habit that holds them there, sometimes the inability to find a place to live at the periphery, but mostly it is the nature of their work that prevents them from moving away from the center. The woman out-worker wants to remain close to the clothing store; wage earners, hackney coachmen, cleaning women, ironing women, washing women, landladies, servants, family tailors, midwives, copyists, and dance and piano teachers must not leave "their" area if they want to keep their clients, if they want to continue finding their occasional work. They stay and help each other in two ways: the enterprising ones, or those who can still risk a few pennies, rent the empty "grand" residences and begin the life – rich in diversions and losses – of the "furnished landlord" or the guesthouse owner or renter of rooms. Therewith family life decays within this stratum as well. Even though cases in which a single man houses several female night-lodgers [Schlafmädchen] in a single transit room [Durchgangszimmer] or a younger widow rents to more than ten young factory workers are not the rule,* a repugnant promiscuity is the rule nonetheless. And which statistics tell us of the many, many Amandas and Wandas with large feathered hats and "separate entrances," whom all the children in the house admire and envy so much, who always have so much candy, whose regular and occasional visitors the entire house tracks so carefully?

Those who lack the means for such a venture – and many a good mother is deterred by the great child mortality in the night-lodger accommodations, which is well known among the people – and yet cannot decide to leave the center will seek to make a home for themselves in a drafty garret, an empty cellar, in some closet improvised somehow, somewhere in the corners and hallways of once spacious patrician homes; or friendly landlords who would rather not have their tenants move to the suburbs quickly fit a few side or rear buildings into their courtyards, where every floor is given a few dwellings made up of a kitchen and a room. If such a dwelling houses no more than five children in addition to the father and the mother, it will not be listed as "overpopulated" in the Yearbook of German Cities – even if it includes not a single side room, if the rooms are boiling hot in the summer nights, if no ray of sunshine ever falls into the courtyard shaft in the winter. As far as statistics is concerned, a "kitchen with window" is always a "heatable room," and a dwelling of two rooms with fewer than eight residents is not "overpopulated;" after all, there are a good many dwellings with kitchens that have no window.

* In Munich in 1890, no fewer than 414 single men were discovered who were renting to one or more female boarders.

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