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The Days of Pestilence

The New Orleans resident congratulates himself – and he does well – that he is not as other men are, in other great cities, as to breathing-room. The desperate fondness with which the Creole still clings to domestic isolation has passed into the sentiment of all types of the city’s life; and as the way is always open for the town, with just a little river-sand filling, to spread farther and farther, there is no huddling in New Orleans, or only very little here and there. There is assurance of plenty not only as to space, but also as to time. Time may be money, but money is not everything, and so there never has been much crowding over one another’s heads about business centres, never any living in sky-reaching strata. The lassitude which loads every warm, damp breeze that blows in across the all-surrounding marsh and swamp has always been against what an old New Orleans writer calls “knee-cracking stairways.” Few houses lift their roofs to dizzy heights, and a third-story bedroom is not near enough to be coveted by many. Shortly before the war – and the case is not materially changed in New Orleans today – the number of inmates to a dwelling was in the proportion of six and a half to one. In St. Louis, it was seven and three-quarters; in Cincinnati, it was more than eight; in Boston, nearly nine; and in New York, over thirteen and a half. The number of persons to the acre was a little more than forty-five. In Philadelphia, it was eighty; in Boston, it was eighty-two; in...

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