New York (N.Y.) Seventh Ward poll book  ca. 1838
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In 1834, New York's 7th Ward fronted onto the East River southeast of Division Street in the lower east side of Manhattan. Its 15,873 residents lived in conditions that were poor and steadily declining, with open prostitution and slum development at either end. A $532 per capita income (in 1830) places the 7th Ward in the lower middle of all wards in the city, well below the $820 median income, and less than 30% of the income of the affluent 1st Ward. The 7th, in fact, had a lower average income than the neighboring 6th Ward ($628), which included the notorious Five Points Slum, though still double the income levels of its desperately poor neighbors to the north, the 10th and 13th Wards.

In the hotly contested elections of the 1830s and 40s, the 7th Ward was a key to victory. It came out with one of the highest Tammany votes in the presidential election of 1828, but swayed between the major parties for the next two decades in both local and national elections. For the national elections of 1840 and 1842, the ward was nearly evenly split between the Democratic and Whig Parties, though in the mayoral elections of those years, Whigs fared poorly, with the vote split between Democrats and the remnants of the National Republicans.