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Gritty Photos Of The Squalid Living Conditions Of NYC's Immigrants In 1890

Gritty Photos Of The Squalid Living Conditions Of NYC's Immigrants In 1890  image

Gritty Photos Of The Squalid Living Conditions Of NYC's Immigrants In 1890

Jacob Riis was a Danish immigrant who moved to New York City in 1870. He was only 21 at the time and dreamed of beginning a better life in the city.

What he hoped for and what he found were two very separate things.

Riis didn't realize that hundreds of thousands of other immigrants had arrived with the exact same idea. Due to the cramped nature of the city, most of these people ended up living in squalid, disease-ridden tenements.

Riis struggled to find steady employment and became all-too-familiar with the harsh and degrading conditions immigrants faced during the turn of the century.

Finally, Riis was able to land a journalist-in-training position at the New York News Association. This lead to other journalistic jobs which allowed him to shed light on the impoverished condition of immigrant life in the city.

Eventually, feeling that words couldn't accurately capture the day-to-day struggle, Riis taught himself photography. Equipped with a camera, he documented NYC's slums, saloons, tenements, and streets. His photos are gritty and grim, revealing horrible living conditions that most New Yorkers weren't' even aware of back then.

Riis would go on to publish this body of work in 1890. The book is called How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York and can be found online here.

Via Museum Syndicate

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