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From the Archive

In 1886, New Yorker Stanton Coit founded the nation’s first “settlement house,” the New York Neighborhood Guild (today the University Settlement) on Forsyth Street on the Lower East Side. Inspired by the example of reformers in London’s Toynbee Hall, Coit and others moved to the city’s poorest neighborhoods to work with immigrants living in crowded, unhealthy tenement apartments. They lived as members of the community and helped local families receive health care, enroll in educational programs, join recreational clubs, and enjoy a range of social services.... Read More

Meet the Activists

  • Jacob Riis
    Jacob Riis
  • Lillian Wald
    Lillian Wald

Key Events

Global Events
Local Events

1861 Civil War begins

1865 More than half the city’s population lives in substandard tenements

1884 Toynbee Hall, the world’s first settlement house, founded in London’s East End

1886 Founding of the New York Neighborhood Guild (today’s University Settlement), America’s first settlement house

1890 Publication of How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis

1893 Henry Street Settlement and Visiting Nurse Service founded

1901 New York’s New Tenement House Law requires light, air, space, running water, and toilets in new apartments

1904 National Child Labor Committee formed at a meeting at Carnegie Hall

1919 United Neighborhood Houses of New York founded to coordinate reform efforts of the city’s settlement houses

1933 New York City settlement house workers become key players in the New Deal

1944 The Visiting Nurse Service of New York and the Henry Street Settlement become two separate organizations

Key Events

1861
Civil War begins
1865 More than half the city’s population lives in substandard tenements
1884
Toynbee Hall, the world’s first settlement house, founded in London’s East End
1886 Founding of the New York Neighborhood Guild (today’s University Settlement), America’s first settlement house
1890
Publication of How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis
1893
Henry Street Settlement and Visiting Nurse Service founded
1901 New York’s New Tenement House Law requires light, air, space, running water, and toilets in new apartments
1904 National Child Labor Committee formed at a meeting at Carnegie Hall
1919 United Neighborhood Houses of New York founded to coordinate reform efforts of the city’s settlement houses
1933 New York City settlement house workers become key players in the New Deal
1944 The Visiting Nurse Service of New York and the Henry Street Settlement become two separate organizations