Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 388
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 388
 
They were “educational” cards, with pictures of Europe and Asia and Africa and America on, but it required only half a minute’s observation to tell us that they were gambling—betting on which educational card would turn up next. What the city had provided was a course in scientific gambling with the policeman to see that it was done right. And over at Market and Monroe streets, where they have an acre or more of splendid asphalted floor—such a ball room!—and a matchless yard, the best in the city, twoscore little girls were pitifully cooped up in a corner, being taught something, while outside a hundred clamored to get in, making periodic rushes at the door, only to encounter there a janitor’s assistant with a big club and a roar like a bull to frighten them away. “Orders,” he told us. The yard was dark and dismal. That was the school by the way, whence the report came that they “hadn’t availed themselves” of the opportunity to play.
  It helped, when that story was told. There is nothing in our day like the facts, and they came out that time. There was the roof-garden on the Educational Alliance Building with its average of more than five thousand a day, young and old, last summer (a total of 344,424 for the season), in flat contradiction of the claim that the children “wouldn’t go up on the roof.” Not, surely, if it was only to encounter

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