Hotel For The Homeless 1896

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A municipal hotel for the waifs and strays of humanity who have not elsewhere to lay their heads will be opened about Nov. 26 at Twenty-third Street and First Avenue.

A five-story building of good frontage and depth has been leased by the Department of Charities to serve during the Winter exactly the same purposes as those of the house-barge in the East River last Summer. It is not an imposing place of abode indeed, it is rather gloomy and forbidding from the outside having been designed as a factory building and used as such for many years. But a force of carpenters and mechanics and plumbers are at work to transform it into a comfortable, sanitary shelter for worthy resident and vagrant poor. The work has been delayed for some days on account of trouble with the Department of Buildings.

 Certain alterations were begun in ignorance of a building law which provides that a lodging house must have a fireproof first floor and iron staircases up to the roof. It was, therefore, necessary to change the terms made with the owner of the property, and to draw up a new contract. The rental has been agreed upon at $2,000 a year. The owner of the building is Charles Siedler, Ex-Mayor of Jersey City.

The basement of the city's hotel will contain stationary and shower baths, fumigating closets, a laundry, and a kitchen. Offices will occupy the entire first floor. The Superintendent, who will perhaps be Col. William White, who had charge of the house barge during the Summer: the clerks, and a doctor will each have a room or compartment, in which to conduct examinations into the personal character and physical condition of applicants for lodging.

The second floor will be divided by a partition. In the front room there will be twenty-five beds for homeless women. The rear room will be occupied by as many beds for men. And three upper floors will be used as men's dormitories. Three hundred guests will be the maximum number accommodated at the Hotel Municipal.

One feature of the hostelry will require that the guests become porters, chamber-maids, domestics, and cooks, as well. Some other tasks may be devised to keep away applicants who are not willing to work and unworthy of food and shelter.

Superintendent Blake of the outdoor Poor said: "The best idea would be to have a farm to which the men could be sent after they have taken a refreshing bath, sleep, and breakfast."

There will be no limit to the number of times any unfortunate may ask, for lodging. It will depend entirely upon his worthiness and inability to find work. But the management of the free hotel will make deceptions impossible. No moral "dead-beats" need knock at these doors.


Website: The History
Article Name: Hotel For The Homeless 1896
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


 New York Times November 13, 1896 p.2 (1 page)
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