Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 51
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 51
 
it would have been better had we kept on that track. I have always maintained that we made a false move when we stopped to discuss damages with the landlord, or to hear his side of it at all. His share in it was our grievance; it blocked the mortality records with its burden of human woe. The damage was all ours, the profit all his. If there are damages to collect, he should foot the bill, not we. Vested rights are to be protected, but, as I have said, no man has a right to be protected in killing his neighbor.
  However, they are down, the worst of them. The community has asserted its right to destroy tenements that destroy life, and for that cause. We bought the slum off in the Mulberry Bend at its own figure. On the rear tenements we set the price, and set it low. It was a long step. Bottle Alley is gone, and Bandits’ Roost. Bone Alley, Thieves’ Alley, and Kerosene Row,—they are all gone. Hell’s Kitchen and Poverty Gap have acquired standards of decency; Poverty Gap has risen even to the height of neckties. The time is fresh in my recollection when a different kind of necktie was its pride; when the boy-murderer—he was barely nineteen—who wore it on the gallows took leave of the captain of detectives with the cheerful invitation to “come over to the wake. They’ll have a hell of a time.” And the event fully redeemed

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