"Water St. – East side. From the Alley leading to the River," watercolor by William Breton, circa 1830.
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Credit: Courtesy of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia workers who first organizing into trades unions from the 1830s to the 1850s often lived in tenements such as these. Situated along side alleys behind the brick houses of the middle class and elite, working-class families were crowded into poorly constructed wooden housing where basements flooded and yellow fever and other contagious diseases took a heavy toll.

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