Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 20
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 20
 
has been more than borne out. In the thirty-five years that have passed since, it has in fact been reduced over fifty per cent.
  Men and women were found living in cellars deep down under the ground. One or two of those holes are left still in Park Street near the Five Points Mission, but they have not been used as living-rooms for a generation. In cellars near the river the tide rose and fell, compelling the tenants “to keep the children in bed till ebb-tide.” The plumber had come upon the field, but his coming brought no relief. His was not a case of conscience. “Untrapped soil pipes opened into every floor and poisoned the tenants.”
  Where the “dens of death” were in Baxter Street, big barracks crowded out the old shanties. More came every day. I remember the story of those shown in the picture. They had been built only a little while when complaint came to the Board of Health of smells in the houses. A sanitary inspector was sent to find the cause. He followed the smell down in the cellar and, digging there, discovered that the waste pipe was a blind. It had simply been run three feet into the ground and was not connected with the sewer.
  The houses were built to sell. That they killed the tenants was no concern of builder’s. His name, by the way, was Buddensiek. A dozen years after,

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