Population Density in Southwark Over Time

There appear to have been relatively few residents in each property along Almond Street in the 18th century. According to the 1790 census, most homes were occupied by between 3 and 6 residents. Notable exceptions included Margaret McGovett's lodging house, with seven adult men living under her care and J. Jones, a cooper, living on the eastern portion of Almond Street along with one other adult male, a male under 16 yrs of age and 10 women of varying ages.

By the 1880 census, however, things had grown more dense. It was not unusual for extended families and lodgers to share a home. For example, census records show that at #124 Almond, James and Susan Adams shared a home with their five children, a mother-in-law, a cousin and his wife. It had become quite common also for residents to take on boarders. In some cases, they appeared to simply rent rooms. In others, as at #44 Almond Street, the census specifically calls out separate accommodation in the rear of the property. Whatever the arrangements, it was not uncommon by this time to see up to a dozen people living in each house. The property at #119 appears to have had over 20 people residing in a 19'x19' three-story house, whereas there had only been nine a century before.

Into the 20th century, this practice remained common. Residents were living in large extended families and the small houses along Kenilworth were crowded. As in 1890, the 1920 census indicates that homes along Kenilworth were frequently occupied by two or three branches of the same family or by wholly unrelated families and boarders. The property at #106 Kenilworth is a good example. By 1920, this property housed 19 people, including one Polish immigrant family of 11, another of 6, one extended family member and one lodger. It was not uncommon for one or more family member to immigrate to the US first and for others to follow not long after. Mark Podgurski owned the house at 108 Kenilworth where he lived with his wife, their three daughters and two sons. Census records indicate that Mark and his wife arrived in the US from Poland in 1903. The mother, Frances Levindinska, emigrated two years later. In addition to the Podgurski's and Ms. Levindinska, S. Magur is listed as a lodger in the house and Mike Shagula, his wife and son are listed as renters.

While census data may be inexact due to documentation gaps or transcription errors, it can provide an interesting view of trends over time. The map below demonstrates relative population density in each property along a one block stretch of Almond Street through time. Data was not recorded by the census for all properties in all years, indicating either property vacancy or missing data.

DATA SOURCE: 1790, 1890 and 1920 US Federal Population Census.

Although population density has generally increased over time, the trend has not been steady as one might expect. In fact, only a few, like #140 and #107, show a steady growth. The number of residents in some properties, like #126 and #104, actually decreased between 1790 and 1920.