For my final project I did a neighborhood analysis on Five Points, New York. We did several readings for class that detailed prostitution in the area, but I wanted to get an in depth look at what this area was really like. Throughout my research, I kept coming back to the prostitutes and it finally dawned on me that there was a very large part of the community that took part in the industry. Young men who were interested in taking part in “sporting culture” would visit these lovely ladies and it was widely believed that if they focused their sexual energies on willing women, the men would be less likely to rape (insert eye roll here). I also found that a generous portion of the community were immigrants and African Americans. The African Americans would have their own community within the larger community of Five Points and it would be centralized around their church. The larges of which was St. Philips African Episcopal Church. During this time people were pouring in from Ireland to escape the potato famine and there was a clash of cultures, resulting in riots and drunken fights. It was difficult for people to get along, especially since everyone lived in extremely close quarters. With the influx of people moving into the neighborhood, the wooden houses that held single families were torn down and replaced with larger brick tenement buildings. These buildings were intended for a single family to use one apartment, but this wouldn’t necessarily be the case. Each apartment had two rooms, and if the family renting the apartment was smaller, say, two parents and one child, then they would sublease the extra space to other people. This resulted in extremely crowded and filthy living conditions. All in all, it was a very interesting subject to look into and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Did you know that what you throw away can actually tell a story about you? Garbology is the study of refuse and is used to detect patterns in human society. We (that is to say, archaeologists) use it as a tool to get an in depth look into people’s lives. By studying garbage, we can see things such as what certain demographics of people use more frequently than others, or a company can even use it to figure out common wastes in their products and tailor their marketing accordingly.
Our historical archaeology class did a garbology experiment where we would keep a log of everything that was thrown away in our kitchen trash at home for seven days. After which we anonymously switched logs with another person in class and did an in-depth analysis of their garbage. Questions we had to ask and find answers to were things like, how many people lived there, can you tell how old they are, and can you tell what their income is. From writing my own log and examining others, I would say that these questions could be answered easily, and it was utterly fascinating the amount of information you can gather just by looking at someone else’s trash.
Hello! My name is Sophia and I am a junior at the university of Washington. I have just begun my first year here after transferring from Edmonds Community College and am currently focusing on Archaeological studies. My love of history and archaeology started back in elementary school, learning about the start of this country. From there it blossomed, and I took countless history classes since, finally leading me to archaeology, in which I plan on majoring. I am very excited to one day call myself an employed treasure hunter.