Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 111
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 111
 
there for the present it halts. Jammed between Africa, Italy, and Bohemia, the Irishman has abandoned the East Side up-town. Only west of Central Park does he yet face his foe, undaunted in defeat as in victory. The local street nomenclature, in which the directory has no hand,—Nigger Row, Mixed Ale Flats, etc.,—indicates the hostile camps with unerring accuracy.
  Up-town or down-town, as the tenements grow taller, the thing that is rarest to find is the home of the olden days, even as it was in the shanty on the rocks. “No home, no family, no manhood, no patriotism!” said the old Frenchman. Seventy-seven per cent of their young prisoners, say the managers of the state reformatory, have no moral sense, or next to none. “Weakness, not wickedness, ails them,” adds the prison chaplain; no manhood, that is to say. It is the stamp of the home that is lacking, and we need to be about restoring it, if we would be safe. Years ago, roaming through the British Museum, I came upon an exhibit that riveted my attention as nothing else had. It was a huge stone arm, torn from the shoulder of some rock image, with doubled fist and every rigid muscle instinct with angry menace. Where it came from or what was its story I do not know. I did not ask. It was its message to us I was trying to read. I had been spending weary days and nights in the

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