Jacob A. Riis (18491914). The Battle with the Slum. 1902.
Did you see the sink in that hall? he asked.
The policeman said he did.
But it is pitch dark. How did you see it?
I lit a match, said the policeman.
Four families live on these floors, with heaven knows how many children. It was here the police commissioners were requested, in sober earnest, some years ago, by a committee of very practical woman philanthropists, to have the children tagged, as they do in Japan, I am told, so as to save the policeman wear and tear in taking them back and forth between the Eldridge Street police station and headquarters, when they got lost. If tagged, they could be assorted at once and taken to their homes. Incidentally, the city would save the expense of many meals. It was shrewdly suspected that the little ones were lost on purpose in a good many cases, as a way of getting them fed at the public expense.
One Familys Outlook on the Air Shaft. The Mother said, Our Daughter does not care to come Home to Sleep.
That the children preferred the excitement of the police station, and the distinction of a trip in charge of a brass-buttoned guardian, to the Ludlow Street flat is easy enough to understand. A more unlovely existence than that in one of these tenements it would be hard to imagine. Everywhere is the stench of the kerosene stove that is forever burning, serving for cooking, heating, and ironing alike, until the last atom of oxygen is burned out of the