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Open Our Eyes to Our Cities

by Evan Graves

Upon first arrival to any one of the grand cities here in the United States of America, one becomes encompassed with an awe-inspiring sight. There are many things in a city that are to be proud of. When a closer evaluation is done, when one looks where the average flow of people does not look, there are disturbing results. For any outsider to spend even one night in the tenement housing in our cities would be abhorrent. This is not a challenge; rather, it is an eye opener and an attempt to alter the minds and moral of those who are ignorant to the inapt quality of life in our cities. Recently I visited some communities in and around Chicago to seek the truth.

Without even entering the homes, the conditions are horrid. Walking down the street I was surround by children of many ages. They flocked to me because I was noticeable as someone not from their neighborhood. The younger ones had been playing out-side, which consists of a cluttered dirt road and garbage filled alley ways sneaking between somber buildings. There were a few mud puddles on the side of the road, which these kids took fond interest in. In the midst of the chaos I did not have much time to spend with the children who, in the absence of simple toys, play in filth. The other item that caught my attention right off was the smell. There was a distinct odor that came as a shock to the nostrils. I attributed it to the garbage in the alleys that I spoke of earlier, but later on in the day, after I had returned home I remembered about the factories that are very close to the housing and are partly to blame for the stench. Being not from the area it was hard to tell the difference between one street and another. All the buildings took the same shape, and all were colored the same dull smoggy shade. Overall there was no vibrancy that struck me as I traveled down the road; the only thing that would have been close, is if I had stopped and brushed the dirt off a child's cheek to see the life in their eyes.

There was an atmosphere inside the building that was not much different from outside. Some of the houses I got the chance to enter and look around in, were owned by one family. The grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and kids all lived in one building. As cluttered as it was, every one knew each other and were very close. Things like sharing beds on cold nights are not big dilemmas in their house. In other houses the situations are not as accommodating. Where money is even tighter so is the space. Some men, who work the evening shift, sleep on a shared bed with a man who works during the day. If these people had many personal belongings they would have no where to put them, and the items would most likely get mixed up with everyone else's things. Humans are not the only things living inside the houses. Mice and rats can be heard rummaging through the walls and their feces winds up in the open more often then any one would wish. The houses are so close together that not much light comes in through the few windows that there are. Because of this and because of the fact that the air is stale from lack of a natural breeze, mold grows easily.

Those who live in such houses do not cause these problems. Immigrants and newcomers do not get new houses; they receive used places that are already dingy. The residents would better their environment if the had the time. The fact of the matter is that most of them do not. They have to spend as much time has they can to work. The wages are not high enough to support a quality house. The factories that they work in do not have any uplifting sprits about them either, which certainly does not help the immigrants living in the cities. It is not these poor people's choice to fall into this way of life that does not allow an easy escape.

The owners of big businesses, along with the builders and sellers of the houses are the first people who should change. Any little revision that could improve the wages and or environments of our city's working class would go a long way. If more care and consideration went in to the housing, then the health and the well being of the population would be better off. By understanding what everyone has to face and go through, problems like this one can be solved. Improvement and respect will endup coming full circle, and those who helped will benefit along with the city on a whole looking that much better.