Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 123
Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 123
front and rear, all Italians, and the infant death-rate of the Barracks that year was 325 per 1000. There were forty babies, and one in three of them had to die. The general infant death-rate for the whole tenement-house population that year was 88.38. In the four years following, during which the population and the death-rate of the houses were both reduced with an effort, fifty-one funerals went out of the Barracks. With entire fitness, a cemetery corporation held the mortgage upon the property. The referee allowed it the price of opening one grave, in the settlement, gave one dollar to the lessee, and one hundred and ten dollars to the landlord, who refused to collect and took his case into the courts. We waited to see the land-lord attack the law itself on the score of constitutionality, but he did not. The Court of Appeals decided that it had not been shown that the Barracks might not have been used for some other purpose than a tenement and that therefore we had been hasty. The city paid damages, but it was all right. It was emphatically a case of haste making for speed. So far the law stands unchallenged, both here and in Massachusetts, where they destroyed twice as many unfit houses as we did in New York and stood their ground on its letter, paying the owners the bare cost of the old timbers.
  As in every other instance, we seized only the



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