Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 149
Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 149
  So it seems as if the blight of the twenty-five-foot lot were really wiped out with the double-decker. And no one is hurt. The speculative builder weeps—for the poor, he says. He will build no more, he avers, and rents will go up, so they will have to sleep on the streets. But I notice the plans I spoke of call for an investment of three millions of dollars, and that they are working overtime at the department to pass on them, so great is the rush. Belike, then, they are crocodile tears. Anyway, let him weep. He has laughed long enough.
  As for the rents, he will put them as high as he can, no doubt. They were too high always, for what they bought. In the case of the builder the state can add force to persuasion, and so urge him along the path of righteousness. When it comes to the rent collector the case is different. It may yet be necessary for the municipality to enter the field as a competing landlord on the five-per-cent basis; but I would rather we, as a community, learned first a little more of the art of governing ourselves without scandal. With Tammany liable to turn up at any moment—no, no! Political tenements might yet add a chapter to the story of our disgrace to make men weep. I have not forgotten the use Tammany made of the people’s baths erected in the Hamilton Fish Park on the East Side



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