Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 16
Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 16
form of law that that was good cause for the destruction of a tenement in cold blood; but we got rid of some at that time in a fit of anger. The mortality officially registered in those “dens of death” was 17.5 per cent of their population. We think now that the death-rate of New York is yet too high at 19 or 20 in a thousand of the living.
  A dozen steps away in Mulberry Street, called “Death’s Thoroughfare” in the same report, were the “Old Church Tenements,” part of the Five Points and nearly the worst part. “One of the largest contributors to the hospitals,” this repulsive pile had seen the day when men and women sat under its roof and worshipped God. When the congregation grew rich, it handed over its house to the devil and moved uptown. That is not putting it too strong. Counting in the front tenements that shut out what little air and sunshine might otherwise have reached the wretched tenants, it had a population of 360 according to the record, and a mortality of 75 per thousand!
An Old Wooster Street Court.
  The sketches of the Fourth Ward and Wooster Street barracks are reproduced from an old report of the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor. They rightly made out, those early missionaries, that the improvement must begin with the people’s homes, or not at all, and allowed no indifference on the part of the public to turn them



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