Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 152
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 152
 
— the Ham-fish, locally. They were shut from the day they were opened, I came near saying; I mean from the day they should have been opened; and two stalwart watchmen drew salaries for sitting in the door to keep the people out. That was a perfectly characteristic use of the people’s money, and is not lightly to be invited back. Rather wait awhile yet, and see what our bridges and real rapid transit, and the “philanthropy and five per cent” plan, will do for us. When that latter has been grasped so by the tenant that a little extra brass and plate-glass does not tempt him over into the enemy’s camp, the usurious rents may yet follow the double-decker, as they have clung to it in the past.
 
 
  1. Old Knickerbocker dwelling.
  2. The same made over into a tenement.
  3. The rear tenement caves.
  4. Packing-box tenement built for revenue only.
  5. The limit; the air shaft—first concession to tenant.
  6. The double-decker, where the civic conscience began to stir in 1879.
  7. Evolution of double-decker up to date.
  8. Prize plan of Tenement House Exhibition, 1900 (fifty-foot lot).
 
  But if the city may not be the landlord of tenements, I have often thought it might with advantage manage them to the extent of building them to contain so many tenements on basis of air space, and no more. The thing was proposed when the tenement house question first came up for discussion, but was dropped then. The last Tenement House Commission considered it carefully, but decided to wait and see first how the new department worked. The whole expense of that, with its nearly two hundred inspectors, might easily be borne by the collection of a license fee so small that even the tenement house landlord could not complain.

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