Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 294
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 294
 
thousand children attended day and night school. The public school and the Pro-Cathedral, which divided the children between them, were to be allowed to stand, at opposite ends of the block. The surrounding tenements were to be torn down to make room for a park and playground which should embody the ideal of what such a place ought to be, in the opinion of the committee. For the roof garden was not in the original plan except as an alternative of the streetlevel playground, where land came too high. The plentiful supply of light and air, the safety from fire, to be obtained by putting the school in a park, beside the fact that it could thus be “built beautiful,” were considerations of weight. Plans were made, and there was great rejoicing in Essex Street, until it came out that this scheme had gone the way of the other. The clerk who should have filed the plans in the register’s office left that duty to some one else, and it took just twenty one days to make the journey, a distance of five hundred feet or less. The Greater New York had come then with Tammany, and the thing was not heard of again. When I traced the failure down to the clerk in question, and told him that he had killed the park, he yawned and said: —
  “Yes, and I think it is just as well it is dead. We haven’t any money for those things. It is very nice to have small parks, and very nice to have a

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