INAUGURAL ADDRESS 49
here, as the wise men guided by a dream and a star hastened to Bethlehem!
I have spoken thus in order that you may understand the great significance, the real beauty, of this humble room, which seems like a bit of the house itself set apart by a mother's hand for the use and happiness of the children of the Quarter. This is the second " Children's House " * which has been established within the ill-favoured Quarter of San Lorenzo.
The Quarter of San Lorenzo is celebrated, for every newspaper in the city is filled with almost daily accounts of its wretched happenings. Yet there are many who are not familiar with the origin of this portion of our city.
It was never intended to build up here a tenement district for the people. And indeed San Lorenzo is not the People's Quarter, it is the Quarter of the poor. It is the Quarter where lives the underpaid, often unemployed workingman, a common type in a city which has no factory industries. It is the home of him who undergoes the period of surveillance to which he is condemned after his prison sentence is ended. They are all here, mingled, huddled together.
The district of San Lorenzo sprang into being between 1884 and 1888 at the time of the great building fever. No standards either social or hygienic guided these new constructions. The aim in building was simply to cover with walls square foot after square foot of ground. The more space covered, the greater the gain of the interested Banks and Companies. All this with a complete disregard of the disastrous future which they were preparing. It was natural that no one should concern himself with
* Dr. Montessori no longer directs the work in the Case dei Bambini in the Quarter of San Lorenzo.