Uptown Social Geography, 1863
In 1865, the Citizens' Association of New York issued a ward-by-ward report on the sanitary condition of the city entitled Report of the Council of Hygiene and Public Health of the Citizens' Association of New York upon the Sanitary Condition of the City ( New York, 1865). Not merely a commentary on citywide health conditions, the Report also discussed the social life of each ward in minute detail. The Report's comments on the Eighteenth Ward bear out the conclusion that the uptown middle-island district was very different in social constituency and tone from the uptown waterfront neighborhoods.
The Report's review of conditions in the "18th Inspection District" (the southern half of the Eighteenth Ward), divided the area into three sections: an upper class zone west of Third Avenue, a zone of "artisans and tradespeople" from Third Avenue to First Avenue, and a laboring class, east of First Avenue, along the waterfront. Of the waterfront zone, the Report observed, "As regards the nationality of the population of this district, nearly all east of First Avenue are Irish and of Irish descent, with the occasional admixture of a family of Germans. More of the latter are found in the middle subdivision than in any other part; in fact quite a respectable portion of the population of that section are Germans" ( Report, 209-10). It should be noted that the rioters' barricades just east of Third Avenue during July 1863 included behind their boundaries most residents of the middle zone as well as the zone along the waterfront.
On the West Side, in the Twentieth Ward, the class distinctions between middle island and waterfront were still evident, but somewhat less pronounced. The Report observed that the middle-island area east of Ninth Avenue was "occupied principally by people of American birth, many of them engaged in commercial pursuits," with some black families also residing between Sixth and Seventh avenues. In the area west of Ninth Avenue, the population was "by a large majority of foreign birth, and principally Irish. They are tradesmen, mechanics and laborers." The reformers noted that "there is rather more intemperance [along the waterfront] . . . than there is in the eastern portion of the district, though there are no localities in this district very notorious for the prevalence of vice and immorality" ( Report, 240).