Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 181
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 181
 
their feet at once. “Are not we young enough to work for him?” they said. The boy showed his strong arms.
  It is charged against this Italian immigrant that he is dirty, and the charge is true. He lives in the darkest of slums, and pays rent that ought to hire a decent flat. To wash, water is needed; and we have a law which orders tenement landlords to put it on every floor, so that their tenants may have the chance. And it is not yet half a score years since one of the biggest tenement-house landlords in the city, the wealthiest church corporation in the land, attacked the constitutionality of this statute rather than pay two or three hundred dollars for putting water into two old buildings, as the Board of Health had ordered, and so came near upsetting the whole structure of tenement-house law upon which our safety depends. Talk about the Church and the people; that one thing did more to drive them apart than all the ranting of atheists that ever were. Yesterday a magazine came in the mail in which I read: “On a certain street corner in Chicago stands a handsome church where hundreds of worshippers gather every Sabbath morning for prayer and praise. Just a little way off, almost within the shadow of its spire, lived, or rather herded, in a dark, damp basement, a family of eight—father, mother, and six children. For all the

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