Jacob A. Riis (18491914). The Battle with the Slum. 1902.
strongholds; and no sooner was the Bend gone than the rest surrendered. Time was up.
But it was not so easy campaigning at the start. In 1888 plans were filed for the demolition of the block. It took four years to get a report of what it would cost to tear it down. About once in two months during all that time the authorities had to be prodded into a spasm of activity, or we would probably have been yet where we were then. Once, when I appealed to the corporation counsel to give a good reason for the delay, I got the truth out of him without evasion.
Well, I tell you, he said blandly, no one here is taking any interest in that business. That is good enough reason for you, isnt it?
It was. That Tammany reason became the slogan of an assault upon official incompetence and treachery that hurried things up considerably. The property was condemned at a total cost to the city of a million and a half, in round numbers, including the assessment of half a million for park benefit which the property owners were quick enough, with the aid of the politicians, to get saddled on the city at large. In 1894 the city took possession and became the landlord of the old barracks. For a whole year it complacently collected the rents and did nothing. When it was shamed out of that rut, too, and the tenements were at last torn down, the