Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 279
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 279
 
million dollars for two open spaces in the parkless district on the East Side, where Jacob Beresheim was born. It had been shown that while the proportion of park area inside the limits of the old city was equal to one-thirteenth of all, below Fourteenth Street, where one-third of the people lived, it was barely one-fortieth. It took a citizen’s committee appointed by the mayor just three weeks to seize the two park sites for the children’s use, and it took the Good Government Clubs with their allies at Albany less than two months to get warrant of law for the tearing down of the houses ahead of final condemnation, lest any mischance befall through delay or otherwise,—a precaution which subsequent events proved to be eminently wise. I believe the legal proceedings are going on yet.
  The playground part of it was a provision of the Gilder law that showed what apt scholars we had been. I was a member of that committee, and I fed fat my grudge against the slum tenement, knowing that I might not again have such a chance. Bone Alley went. I shall not soon get the picture of it, as I saw it last, out of my mind. I had wandered to the top floor of one of the ramshackle tenements in the heart of the block, to a door that stood ajar, and pushed it open. On the floor lay three women rag-pickers with their burdens, asleep, overcome by the heat and beer, the stale stench of

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