Jacob A. Riis (18491914). The Battle with the Slum. 1902.
VII. Pietro and the Jew
WE have seen that the problem of the tenement is to make homes for the people, out of it if we can, in it if we must. Now about the tenant. How much of a problem is he? And how are we to go about solving it?
The government slum inquiry, of which I have spoken before, gave us some facts about him. In New York it found 62.58 per cent of the population of the slum to be foreign-born, whereas for the whole city the percentage of foreigners was only 43.23. While the proportion of illiteracy in all was only as 7.69 to 100, in the slum it was 46.65 per cent. That with nearly twice as many saloons to a given number there should be three times as many arrests in the slum as in the city at large need not be attributed to nationality, except indirectly in its possible responsibility for the saloons. I say possible advisably. Anybody, I should think, whose misfortune it is to live in the slum might be expected to find in the saloon a refuge. I shall not quarrel with the other view of it. I am merely stating a personal impression.