Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 27
Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 27
Dragon Yard was greater than the sight of it would lead you to expect, for in Whitechapel one room flats were the rule; but with its utmost crowding it came nowhere near the court. Sullen discontent was the badge of it. Gotham Court was in an active state of warfare at all hours, for its population was evenly divided between Irish and Italians, with only two German families, who caught it from both sides. But there was hope in that, for they were on the move; before the court was torn down, one-third of its tenants were Greeks. Their slum over yonder is dead, black, given over to smoky chimneys and bad draughts, with redeyed and hopeless men and women forever blowing the bellows on ineffectual fires. Ours is alive if it is with fighting. There is yeast in it, and bright skies without, if not within. I don’t believe there is a bellows to be had in New York. Our slum, with its greater crowd, has more urgent need of sharp attention, chiefly because of the overflow of theirs which it receives. But after all, even that represents what still had courage and manhood enough to make it want to get away and do better. We shall “get there” if we don’t give up. It sometimes seems to me that their only hope is to get here.
Green Dragon Yard, London
  Speaking of the fair beginning of Gotham Court reminds me of the Big Flat in Mott Street, a mighty tenement with room for a hundred families



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