The organic things – Italo-Semitico-Mongoloid – inhabiting that awful cesspool could not by any stretch of the imagination be call’d human. They were monstrous and nebulous adumbrations of the pithecanthropoid and amoebal; vaguely moulded from some stinking viscous slime of earth’s corruption, and slithering and oozing in and on the filthy streets or in and out of windows and doorways in a fashion suggestive of nothing but infesting worms or deep-sea unnamabilities. They – or the degenerate gelatinous fermentation of which they were composed – seem’d to ooze, seep and trickle thro’ the gaping cracks in the horrible houses . . and I thought of some avenue of Cyclopean and unwholesome vats, crammed to the vomiting-point with gangrenous vileness, and about to burst and inundate the world in one leprous cataclysm of semi-fluid rottenness.
From that nightmare of perverse infection I could not carry away the memory of any living face. The individually grotesque was lost in the collectively devastating; which left on the eye only the broad, phantasmal lineaments of the morbid mould of disintegration and decay . . a yellow and leering mask with sour, sticky, acid ichors oozing at eyes, ears, nose and mouth, and abnormally bubbling from monstrous and unbelievable sores at every point . . .
H. P. Lovecraft describes Manhattan’s Lower East Side in a letter to Frank Belknap Long, cited in H. P. Lovecraft : Against The World, Against Life by Michel Houellebecq (1991, 2005)