Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 228
Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 228
When it fails in this, the item is carried on the ledger with interest and compound interest toward a day of reckoning that comes surely with the paymaster. We have heard the chink of his coin on the counter, these days, in the unblushing revelations before legislative investigating committees of degraded citizenship, of the murder of the civic conscience, and in the applause that hailed them from the unthinking crowd. And we have begun to understand that these are the interest on Jacob’s account, older, much older, than himself. He is just an item carried on the ledger. But with that knowledge the account is at last in the way of getting squared. Let us see how it stands.
  We shall take Jacob as a type of the street boy on the East Side, where he belonged. What does not apply to him in the review applies to his class. But there was very little of it indeed that he missed or that missed him.
  He was born in a tenement in that section where the Gilder Tenement House Commission found 324,000 persons living out of sight and reach of a green spot of any kind, and where sometimes the buildings—front, middle, and rear—took up ninety-three per cent of all the space in the block. Such a home as he had was there, and of the things that belonged to it he was the heir. The sunlight was not among them. It “never entered” there. Darkness



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