Question: Ellis island-steerage for immigrants how big where the bunk beds!?
I'd like to know the space and was it enough for a mother and child just one bunk bed!. or not nearly enough!.
did some sleep on the floor!?
Best Answer - Chosen by Asker:
The overwhelming majority of immigrants traveled in steerage where there was no lighting and passenger were packed in as tightly as space would allow!. Steerage passengers had to provide their own bedding!. Each passenger got a berth that was 18 inches wide by 6 feet long!. The berths were often in tiers up to four rows high!. Frequently they were poorly build and rickety!. Men and women who were strangers to each other before the start of the journey were berthed together!. In 1852 a new law required that men be berthed separately!.
Steerage was enormously profitable for steamship companies!. Even though the average cost of a ticket was only $30, larger ships could hold from 1,500 to 2,000 immigrants, netting a profit of $45,000 to $60,000 for a single, one-way voyage!. The cost to feed a single immigrant was only about 60 cents a day!
For most immigrants, especially early arrivals, the experience of steerage was like a night-mare (at one time, the average passenger mortality rate was 10 percent per voyage)!. The conditions were so crowded, so dismally dark, so unsanitary and so foul-smelling, that they were the single most important cause of America's early immigration laws!. Unfortunately, the laws were almost impossible to enforce and steerage conditions remained deplorable, almost beyond belief!. As late as 1911, in a report to President William H!. Taft, the United States Immigration Commission said:
"The open deck space reserved for steerage passengers is usually very limited, and situated in the worst part of the ship, subject to the most violent motion, to the dirt from the stacks and the odors from the hold and galleys!.!.!. the only provisions for eating are frequently shelves or benches along the sides or in the passages of sleeping compartments!. Dining rooms are rare and, if found, are often shared with berths installed along the walls!. Toilets and washrooms are completely inadequate; saltwater only is available!.
"The ventilation is almost always inadequate, and the air soon becomes foul!. The unattended vomit of the seasick, the odors of not too clean bodies, the reek of food and the awful stench of the nearby toilet rooms make the atmosphere of the steerage such that it is a marvel that human flesh can endure it!.!.!. Most immigrants lie in their berths for most of the voyage, in a stupor caused by the foul air!. The food often repels them!.!.!. It is almost impossible to keep personally clean!. All of these conditions are naturally aggravated by the crowding!."