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Oct 31

Welcome to District 14

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Irish families who fled Ireland and set sail for Glasgow to escape the famine found that it "wasn't to be the easiest of transitions." Until then Glasgow had been a "rather pleasant place" but Irish emigration drastically changed the entire life of the city.

The city grew fast. Too fast. It was the victim of its own success and within a lifetime matters had degenerated such that Glasgow now boasted some of the "worst slum conditions in all Europe."

Indeed the population doubled between 1811 and 1836 and builders had to throw up tenements everywhere.

They looked solid on the outside, Burrowes (2004) says, but there was no shortage of jerrybuilding on the inside. Those structures -often toiletless, kitchenless and overcrowded- wre to be the slums of the future.

One area -District 14- was particularly notorious. It covered the Briggait area and was bounded by Stockwell Street, the Saltmarket, Trongate and River Clyde.

A 1899 Glasgow Philosophical Report claimed 7,150 lived there in 1,308 dwellings, covering just a few acres. Deaths dwarfed births. 25% of children were born out of wedlock. And there were only 100 water closets for all those people.

District 14 was therefor a "human cesspit" and a "concentration camp of filth and disease." Not surprisingly typhus was prevalent.

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