Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 307
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 307
 
because it offends the orthodox, to whom the lighting of a fire, even the holding of a candle, is anathema on the Sabbath eve.
  The band plays on. One after another, tired heads droop upon babes slumbering peacefully at the breast. Ludlow Street—the tenement—are forgotten; eleven o’clock is not yet. Down along the silver gleam of the river a mighty city slumbers. The great bridge has hung out its string of shining pearls from shore to shore. “Sweet land of liberty!” Overhead the dark sky, the stars that twinkled their message to the shepherds on Judæan hills, that lighted their sons through ages of slavery, and the flag of freedom borne upon the breeze,—down there the tenement, the—Ah, well! let us forget as do these.
 
 
Bottle Alley, Whyó Gang’s Headquarters. This picture was evidence at a murder trial. The X marks the place where the murderer stood when he shot his victim on the stairs.
 
  Now if you ask me: “And what of it all? What does it avail?” let me take you once more back to the Mulberry Bend, and to the policeman’s verdict add the police reporter’s story of what has taken place there. In fifteen years I never knew a week to pass without a murder there, rarely a Sunday. It was the wickedest, as it was the foulest, spot in all the city. In the slum the two are interchangeable terms for reasons that are clear enough for me. But I shall not speculate about it, only state the facts. The old houses fairly reeked with outrage and violence. When they were torn down, I

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