Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 29
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 29
 
none of the rules that went with the philanthropy, and the Big Flat lapsed back among the slum tenements and became the worst of a bad lot. I speak of it here because just now the recollection of it is a kind of a milestone in the battle with the slum. Twenty years after, A. T. Stewart, the merchant prince, set another in the Park Avenue Hotel which he intended for his working-girls; and that was a worse failure than the first, for it never served the purpose he intended for it. And now, just as I am writing this, they are putting the finishing touches to a real woman’s hotel up-town which will not be a failure, though it will hardly reach the same class which the remodellers of the Big Flat had in mind. However, we shall get there, too, now we know the way.
 
 
Flagged Hallway in the “Big Flat.”
 
  Slowly, with many setbacks, we battled our way into the light. A Board of Health had come with the cholera panic in 1866. The swine that ran at large in the streets, practically the only scavengers, were banished. The cholera and the yellow fever that had ravaged the city by turns never came back. The smallpox went its way, too, 1 and was heard
Note 1. They had “health wardens” in the old days, and the Council of Hygiene tells of the efficient way two of them fought the smallpox. One stood at the foot of the stairs and yelled to those minding a patient in the next story to “put pieces of camphor about the clothes of the sick and occasionally throw a piece on the hot stove.” The other summoned the occupants of a smallpox smitten tenement to the hall door and cautioned them to say nothing about it to any one, or he would send them all to the pesthouse! [ back ]

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