Add that surplus labor should not be put to such use

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add that surplus labor should not “be put to such use as would interfere with the industrious pursuits of our fellow citizens.” 35 By mid-century, Morris’s vision of reorganization had materialized in the creation of a new relief, Work House, and penal complex on Black- well’s Island. An imposing structure of blue stone rubble masonry hacked out of the rock on its new site, New York City’s new Alms House occu- pied the island’s center, opposite Seventieth Street. It separated men and women in two separate edifices, in an apparent attempt to address the charge that the promiscuous mixing of inmates bred not only indiscipline, SenGupta, Gunja. From Slavery to Poverty : The Racial Origins of Welfare in New York, 1840-1918, New York University Press, 2009. ProQuest Ebook Central, . Created from ucalgary-ebooks on 2019-04-07 21:08:21. Copyright © 2009. New York University Press. All rights reserved.
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88 The White Republic and “Workfare” but also new generations of paupers born to the poorhouse. Each edifice boasted a magnificent central structure containing apartments for the staff as well the kitchen and laundry room of the establishment. Rising to eighty-seven feet, it was topped by a cupola and flanked by wings that quartered the poor in tiny rooms opening onto verandas. A chapel with pews affording eight hundred seats stood near the island’s western shore. To the east rose a three-storied bakery equipped with five ovens, a ware- house for storing flour and bread, and workrooms for carpenters, coopers, and shoemakers. 36 Blackwell’s Island was also the site of an octagonal-structured Luna- tic Asylum, located at its northern end, and the Penitentiary, lying across from Fifty-fifth Street. Four stories high, the physical contours of this prison paralleled those of the Alms House. It too consisted of a middle edifice edged with wings fitted with cells for nearly five hundred inmates. Placed back to back, the cells opened onto iron galleries connected to the central building by stone staircases. Those in the northern wing confined males and those in the southern held female prisoners. The Penitentiary’s physical appearance and proximity to the Alms House made it an emblem of the confusion between crime and pauperism in nineteenth-century welfare discourse. Administrative restructuring accompanied the move of the munici- pal relief establishment to Blackwell’s Island. In 1849 the state legislature established a new, bipartisan Board of ten Alms House Governors to be elected for five-year terms, one every year from the nominees of the two main political parties. This arrangement was designed to insulate the Alms House administration from partisan control centered in the Com- mon Council, reduce costs, redress corruption and inefficiency among of- ficials running the department, and eliminate alleged inmate abuse. The Alms House Department now embraced under its jurisdiction the Depart-
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  • Spring '17
  • Dr. Hassan
  • New York University Press

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