Jacob Riis: How the Other Half Lives
Jacob Riis's illustrated tour of New York's slums had an immediate and extraordinary impact on society, inspiring reforms that changed the face of the city. In 1890, when the book was published, the Lower East Side was a landscape of teeming streets and filthy tenements crowded with immigrants living in dreadful conditions. How the Other Half Lives brings them to life - the Italians, Jews, Bohemians (Czechs and Slovaks), Blacks, and Chinese - in precise descriptions of their habits and traditions, jobs and wages, rents paid and meals eaten, and explores the effects of crime, poverty, alcohol, and lack of education and opportunity on adults and children alike. Riis's reliance on specific, hard facts as the tools and weapons of social criticism pioneered the style of crusading journalism that continues today. His use of photographs (reproduced in this edition) to put faces to his stories was a landmark in photojournalism.