Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 96
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 96
 
dirty and a very fierce baby, and the other two children were no match for him. The shoemaker grunted fretfully at his last, “Ach, he is all de time hungry!” At the sight of the policeman, the young imp set up such a howl that we beat a hasty retreat. The cellar “flat” was undoubtedly in violation of law, but it was allowed to pass. In the main hall, on the ground floor, we counted seventeen children. The facts of life here suspend ordinary landlord prejudices to a certain extent. Occasionally it is the tenant who suspends them. The policeman laughed as he told me of the case of a mother who coveted a flat into which she well knew her family would not be admitted; the landlord was particular. She knocked, with a troubled face, alone. Yes, the flat was to let; had she any children? The woman heaved a sigh. “Six, but they are all in Greenwood.” The landlord’s heart was touched by such woe. He let her have the flat. By night he was amazed to find a flock of half a dozen robust youngsters domiciled under his roof. They had indeed been in Greenwood; but they had come back from the cemetery to stay. And stay they did, the rent being paid.
  High rents, slack work, and low wages go hand in hand in the tenements as promoters of overcrowding. The rent is always one-fourth of the family income, often more. The fierce competition

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