Jacob A. Riis (18491914). The Battle with the Slum. 1902.
city, he made haste to set his house to rights, lest it be seized or brought to the bar in other ways. The Good Government Clubs had their hands full that year (189697). They made war upon the dark hall in the double-decker, and upon the cruller bakery. They compelled the opening of small parks, or the condemnation of sites for them anyway, exposed the abuses of the civil courts, the poor mans courts, urged on the building of new schools, cleaned up in the Tombs prison and hastened the demolition of the wicked old pile, and took a hand in evolving a sensible and humane system of dealing with the young vagrants who were going to waste on free soup. The proposition to establish a farm colony for their reclamation was met with the challenge at Albany that we have had enough reform in New York City, and, as the event proved, for the time being we had really gone as far as we could. But even that was a good long way. Some things had been nailed that could never again be undone; and hand in hand with the effort to destroy had gone another to build up, that promised to set us far enough ahead to appeal at last successfully to the self-interest of the builder, if not to his humanity; or, failing that, to compel him to decency. If that promise has not been all kept, the end is not yet. I believe it will be kept.