Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 113
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 113
 
V. “Druv into Decency”
 
  I STOOD at Seven Dials and heard the policeman’s account of what it used to be. Seven Dials is no more like the slum of old than is the Five Points today. The conscience of London wrought upon the one as the conscience of New York upon the other. A mission house, a children’s refuge, two big schools, and, hard by, a public bath and a wash-house, stand as the record of the battle with the slum, which, with these forces in the field, has but one ending. The policeman’s story rambled among the days when things were different. Then it was dangerous for an officer to go alone there at night.
  Around the corner there came from one of the side streets a procession with banners, parading in honor and aid of some church charity. We watched it pass. In it marched young men and boys with swords and battle-axes, and upon its outskirts skipped a host of young roughs—so one would have called them but for the evidence of their honest employment—who rattled collection boxes, reaping a harvest of pennies from far and near. I looked at the

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