Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 25
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 25
 
was always in the hospital. I knew the story of how it had been built by a Quaker with good intentions, but without good sense, for the purpose of rescuing people from the awful cellar-holes they burrowed in around there,—this within fifty-one years of the death of George Washington, who lived just across the street on the crest of Cherry Hill when he was President,—and how in a score of years from the time it was built it had come to earn the official description, “a nuisance which, from its very magnitude, is assumed to be unremovable and irremediable.” 1 That was at that time. But I have lived to see it taken in hand three times, once by the landlord under compulsion of the Board of Health, once by Christian men bent upon proving what could be done on their plan with the worst tenement house. And a good deal was accomplished. The mortality was brought below the general death-rate of the city, and the condition of the living was made by comparison tolerable. Only the best was bad in that spot, on account of the good Quaker’s poor sense, and the third time the court was taken in hand it was by the authorities, who destroyed it, as they should have done a generation before. Oh, yes, we are getting there; but that sort of thing takes time.
 
 
Gotham Court.
 
  Going through Whitechapel, London, about the
Note 1. Health Department Report, 1870, p. III. [ back ]

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