Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 398
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 398
 
postman brought half an hour ago, that lets more daylight in, it seems to me, than all the rest. He has been thinking, he writes, of how to yoke the public school and the social settlement together, and the conviction that comes to everybody who thinks to solve problems, has come to him, too, that the way to do a thing is to do it. So he proposes, since they need another house over at the West Side branch, to acquire it by annexing the public school and turning “all the force and power that is in the branch into the bare walls of the school, there to develop a social spirit and an enthusiasm” among young and old that shall make of the school truly the neighborhood house and soul. And he asks us all to fall in.
  I say it lets daylight in, because we have all felt for some time that something like this was bound to come, only how was not clear yet. Here is this immense need of a tenement house population of more than two million souls: something to take the place, as far as anything can, of the home that isn’t there, a place to meet other than the saloon; a place for the young to do their courting—there is no room for it in the tenement, and the street is not the place for it, yet it has got to be done; a place to make their elders feel that they are men and women, something else than mere rent-paying units. Why, it was this very need that gave birth to the social settlement among

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