Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 114
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 114
 
battle-axes and the collection boxes, and thought of forty years ago. Where was the Seven Dials of that day, and the men who gave it its bad name? I asked the policeman.
  “They were druv into decency, sor,” he said, and answered from his own experience the question ever asked by faint-hearted philanthropists. “My father, he done duty here afore me in ’45. The worst dive was where that church stands. It was always full of thieves,”—whose sons, I added mentally, have become collectors for the church. The one fact was a whole chapter on the slum.
  London’s way with the tenant we adopted at last in New in New York with the slum landlord. He was “druv into decency.” We had to. Moral suasion had been stretched to the limit. The point had been reached where one knock-down blow out-weighed a bushel of arguments. It was all very well to build model tenements as object lessons to show that the thing could be done; it had become necessary to enforce the lesson by demonstrating that the community had power to destroy houses which were a menace to its life. The rear tenements were chosen for this purpose.
  They were the worst, as they were the first, of New York’s tenements. The double-deckers of which I have spoken had, with all their evils, at least this to their credit, that their death-rate was not

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