Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 136
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 136
 
new that are being built aim visibly toward the higher standard.
  The company’s rents average a dollar a week per room, and are a trifle higher than those of the old tenements round about; but they have so much more in the way of comfort that the money is eagerly paid; nor is the difference so great that the “picking of tenants” amounts to more than the putting of a premium on steadiness, sobriety, and cleanliness, which in itself is a service to render. One experience of the management which caused some astonishment, but upon reflection was accepted as an encouraging sign, was the refusal of the tenants to use the common wash-tubs in the laundry. They are little used to this day. The women will use the drying racks, but they object to rubbing elbows with their neighbors while they wash their clothes. It is, after all, a sign that the tenement that smothers individuality left them this useful handle, and if the experience squashed the hopes of some who dreamed of municipal wash-houses on the Glasgow plan, there is nothing to grieve over. Every peg of personal pride rescued from the tenement is worth a thousand theories for hanging the hope of improvement on.
  With $2,300,000 invested by this time, the company has built city homes for 1450 families, and has only made a beginning. All the money that

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