New York City Slums In The 1880s
Jacob A. Riis was one of the first photographers who directed their cameras to the nineteenth-century immigrants in New York. He emigrated from Denmark and arrived in New York in 1870. At the time, thousands of people were coming to New York seeking a better life. Part of them was moving deeper into the continent, but a large part left in the fast-growing city. But there was not enough jobs for all, and rents rose. Many people faced joblessness, hunger, homelessness, and thoughts of suicide.
The Danish American photographer found himself among these people. So when he finally found work as a reporter in 1877, he made it his mission to reveal the crime and poverty of New York City’s East Side slum district to the world. The best way was to take photos. As a result, he published a book How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York in 1890 which is considered as a landmark in the annals of social reform.
Riis took photographs until 1898. In 1901, he resigned from his job as a reporter and dedicated his life to social activities. He died in 1914. Currently, Riis’ negatives are in the collections of Museum of the City of New York. Check out his photographs of New York City slums taken in the 1880s.