Jacob A. Riis (18491914). The Battle with the Slum. 1902.
the world. We can now destroy what is not fit to stand. We have done it, and the republic yet survives. The slum landlord would have had us believe that it must perish with his rookeries. We are building model tenements and making them pay. Alfred T. Whites Riverside tenements are as good to-day as when they were built a dozen years agobetter if anything, for they were honestly builtand in all that time they have paid five and six per cent, and even more. Dr. Gould found that only six per cent of all the great model housing operations which he examined for the government here and abroad had failed to pay. All the rest were successful. And by virtue of the showing we have taken the twenty-five-foot lot itself by the throat.
Three years ago, speaking of it as the one thing that was in the way of progress in New York, I wrote: It will continue to be in the way. A man who has one lot will build on it; it is his right. The state, which taxes his lot, has no right to confiscate it by forbidding him to make it yield him an income, on the plea that he might build something which would be a nuisance. But it can so order the building that it shall not be a nuisance; that is not only its right, but its duty.
That duty has been done since; let me tell how. Popular sentiment, taking more and more firmly hold of the fact that there is a direct connection