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The craftsman
Vol. V, No. 4 (January 1904)

Gans, Charles
The workingman's dwelling in France,   pp. 367-377 PDF (3.9 MB)


Page 367


WORKINGMAN'S DWELLING
the street systems of Washington and Paris,
and the art of designing civic groups-such
as at Vienna is largely realized, at Berlin
promised, developing at Washington, and
dreamed of at New York-are added use
of color as lavish as at Moscow, but better
guided; the harmonies and contrasts of such
park schemes as those of Boston and New
York; river treatments as elaborate and
characteristic as those of Paris and New
York; the subtile fitness, each for its place,
of scores of richly decorated plazas and ap-
propriate adornment of their civic buildings
that dignify and grace the cities best en-
titled to be called such-can one see, even
in his mind's eye, the City of the Future-
the beauty, the wonder, and the glory that it
is to be.
THE WORKINGMAN'S DWELLING
IN FRANCE. BY CHARLES GANS.
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH
BY IRENE SARGENT
HE future historian who shall study
        our epoch in sufficient perspective
        to include its entirety in one glance,
        and shall sweep away the minor
facts obscuring it, will try to understand the
philosophy of our contemporaneous social
history. He will see, without doubt, one
dominant idea rise and prevail: that is, the
principle first accepted by our times of the
right of every man to existence. The work-
ing classes, that is, the very considerable
portion of the world's population who live
solely upon the product of manual labor,
have been too long misunderstood and sacri-
ficed. Furthermore, it is incontestable that
they themselves have been largely responsi-
ble for this situation. Submitting    for
centuries to injustice, they had accustomed
themselves and others to the idea that their
own social state was normal, inevitable and
unsusceptible to change. Again, the work-
ing classes had no share of profit-although
they suffered-in the social revolutions
which occurred at the beginning of the nine-
teenth century. The Revolution of 1789
was effected outside their limits. They
could not or would not profit by it, and the
middle classes who effected it for their own
advantage, continued to regard the work-
ingman as an indeterminate quantity, as a
being who, having his hunger and thirst
satisfied, ought to be contented and happy.
   Toward the middle of the nineteenth
century, however, the working classes awak-
ened suddenly to a sense of their condition.
But quickly they relapsed into their former
state of apathy.
   It is only within a period of thirty years
that this unfortunate condition has begun
to modify. On one hand, education becom-
ing gradually more general and almost
compulsory among these classes, created new
needs, and also new aspirations. On the
other hand, men of liberal mind, of broad
intelligence and free from old-time preju-
dices, arising outside the working classes,
appreciated and approved the demands new-
ly formulated. The convictions of such
men swept others into the movement, and,
little by little, a principle to-day undisputed,
acquired strength and controlling power:
the principle of the right of every man to
existence, that is, to physical and moral
health.
  This dominant thought had important
consequences in France, where individuals
friendly to such ideas necessarily existed in
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