Jacob A. Riis (18491914). Theodore Roosevelt, the Citizen. 1904.
In one Italian tenement that had room for seventeen families I had found forty-three the winter before on midnight inspection; that is to say, three families in every three-room flat, instead of one, all cooking at the same stove. No doubt they were still there, but the daylight showed us only a few women and a lot of babies whom they claimed as theirs. The men were out, the larger children in the street.
The Governor went carefully through every room, observing its condition and noting the number of the license on the wall, if anything was wrong. Sometimes there was no license. Sometimes one had been issued and revoked, but the women were still at work. They listened to remonstrances unmoved.
Vat for I go avay? said one. Vere I go den?
It was an intensely practical question with them, but so it was and is with us all; for from those forsaken tenements, where the home is wrecked hopelessly by ill-paid work that barely puts a dry crust into the mouths of the children, stalks the specter of diphtheria, of scarlet fever, and of consumption forth over the city and the land, sometimes basted in the