Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 90
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 90
 
up between them. “The destruction of the poor is their poverty.” It is only the old story in a new setting. The slum landlord’s profits were always the highest. He spends nothing for repairs, and lays the blame on the tenant. The “district leader” saves him, when Tammany is at the helm, unless he is on the wrong side of the political fence, in which case the Sanitary Code comes handy, to chase him into camp. A big “order” on his house is a very effective way of making a tenement-house landlord discern political truth on the eve of an important election. Just before the election which put Theodore Roosevelt in the Governor’s chair at Albany the sanitary force displayed such activity as had never been known till then in the examination of tenements belonging very largely, as it happened, to sympathizers with the gallant Rough Rider’s cause; and those who knew did not marvel much at the large vote polled by the Tammany candidate in the old city.
  The halls of these tenements are dark. Under the law there should be a light burning, but it is one of the rarest things to find one. The thing seems well-nigh impossible of accomplishment. When the Good Government Clubs set about backing up the Board of Health in its efforts to work out this reform, which comes close to being one of the most necessary of all,—such untold mischief

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