Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 314
Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 314
before him and followed after, it cherished a neighborly sort of contempt.
  In the character of its population Cat Alley was properly cosmopolitan. The only element that was missing was the native American, and in this also it was representative of the tenement districts in America’s chief city. The substratum was Irish, of volcanic properties. Upon this were imposed layers of German, French, Jewish, and Italian, or, as the alley would have put it, Dutch, Sabé, Sheeny, and Dago; but to this last it did not take kindly. With the experience of the rest of Mulberry Street before it, it foresaw its doom if the Dago got a footing there, and within a month of the moving in of the Gio family there was an eruption of the basement volcano, reënforced by the sanitary policeman, to whom complaint had been made that there were too many “Ginnies” in the Gio flat. There were four—about half as many as there were in some of the other flats when the item of house rent was lessened for economic reasons; but it covered the ground: the flat was too small for the Gios. The appeal of the signora was unavailing. “You got-a three bambino,” she said to the housekeeper, “all four, lika me,” counting the number on her fingers. “I no putta me broder-in-law and me sister in the street-a. Italian lika to be together.”
  The housekeeper was unmoved. “Humph!” she



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