Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 138
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 138
 
under the company’s plans. After four years fifty-six only are so held, ten have been bought outright, and three sold under contract. Practically the company has had to give up its well-thought-out plan and rent as many of the houses as it could. Nine were vacant this last spring.
  So what we all thought the “way out” of the slum seems barred for the time being. For there is no other explanation of the failure than that the people will not go “among the stumps.” Lack of facilities for getting there played a part, possibly, but a minor one, and now there is no such grievance. The simple fact is that the home-feeling that makes a man rear a home upon the soil as the chief ambition of his life was not there. The tenement and the flat have weakened that peg among the class of workers for whom Homewood was planned. I hate to say that they have broken the peg, for I do not believe it. But it has been hurt without doubt. They longed for the crowds. The grass and the trees and the birds and the salt breath of the sea did not speak to them in a language they understood. The brass bands and the hand-organs, the street cries and the rush and roar of the city, had made them forget their childhood’s tongue. For the children understood, even in the gutter.
  “It means, I suppose,” said Dr. Gould to me, when we had talked it all over, “that we are and

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