Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 209
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 209
 
history of New York, eighteen different languages and dialects were spoken in its streets, though the future metropolis was then but a small village. “No sooner,” says he, “has one set of varying elements been fused together, than another stream has been poured into the crucible.” What was true of New York two hundred years ago is true to-day of the country of which it is the gateway.
  In dealing with the surplus that remains, we shall have to rely first and foremost on the public school. Of that I shall speak hereafter. It can do more and better work than it is doing, for the old as for the young, when it becomes the real neighborhood centre, especially in the slums. The flag flies over it, that is one thing, and not such a little thing as some imagine. I think we are beginning to see it, with our Flag Day and our putting it out when we never thought of it five or six years ago. And by the way, when last I was in Denmark, my native land, I noticed they had a way of flying the flag on Sunday,—whether in honor of the day, or because they loved it, or because they felt the need of flying it in the face of their big and greedy German neighbor, I shall not say. But it was all right. Why can we not do the same? It would not hurt the flag, and it would not hurt the day. They would both be better for it—we would all be.

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