"the George Street rookery"
Boundary Street, part of the Old Nichol slum in East London c. 1890 - Credit: SasiSasi
A ‘rookery’ was a nineteenth century inner-city slum, an overcrowded area of poor housing, lacking in sanitation and populated by the poorest inhabitants of the city, often including a high percentage of criminals and prostitutes. The name originated
from the similarities between a slum and a rook’s nest – large, noisy, untidy colonies crammed close together in a tree top. The St Giles
rookery, near Covent Garden, was considered one of London’s worst, beaten only by the Whitechapel
area which was notoriously dangerous. George Street is now demolished, but in the Victorian era it was at the heart of the Whitechapel rookery and may well have been considered a small rookery in its own right. Three of Jack the Ripper
’s victims lived in George Street.
A couple of articles containing useful information about life in the London rookeries:
The Rookeries of London – a contemporary Victorian perspective.
Slum living in Georgian London.
Tower Hamlets history online.