Jacob A. Riis (18491914). The Battle with the Slum. 1902.
man taps one on the shoulder with an offer of an easy jobeasy and straight enough in the mood the fellow is in just then; for does not the world owe him a living? It is one of the devils most tempting baits to a starving man that makes him feel quite a moral hero in taking that of which his more successful neighbor has deprived him. The heavy-browed fellow is a thief, who is out recruiting his band which the police have broken up in this or some other city. By and by his victim will have time, behind prison bars, to make out the lie that caught him. The world owes no man a living except as the price of honest work. But, wrathful and hungry, he walks easily into the trap.
That was what Inspector Byrnes meant by calling the cheap lodging houses nurseries of crime. I have personally, as a police reporter, helped trace many foul crimes to these houses where they were hatched. They were all robberies to begin with, but three of them ended in murder. Most of my readers will remember at least one of them, the Lyman S. Weeks murder in Brooklyn, a thoroughly characteristic case of the kind I have described. A case they never heard of, because it was nipped in the bud, was typical of another kind. Two young Western fellows had come on, on purpose to hold up New York, and were practising in their lodging, but not, it seems, with much success, for the police