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Puck vol. 49, no. 1254
March 20, 1901
Progressivism was a multifaceted effort by middle-class Americans to reform their country’s politics, economy, and society. Progressive reformers were active first at the local and state and then the national level. Their causes included public health, city planning, the prohibition of alcohol, the income tax, the regulation of big business, conservation, primary elections, and the popular election of United States senators, among others.
A central goal of progressive urban reform was the elimination of tenements. Tenements were multi-story apartment buildings developed in the late 19th century to house growing populations, especially immigrants, in large cites across America. While they were an improvement in housing for many who lived in them, they were also overcrowded and unsanitary. Tenements were low cost housing used by people on the way up or the way down the economic ladder. The cartoon shows the type of problems associated with tenements. Progressives wanted to tear the tenements down to displace these civic evils.