Tuesday, 1 December 2015

How the Other Half Lives

Jacob Riis was a Danish-American photographer, journalist and social reformer. Riis was dedicated to bettering the living conditions of the lower class and exposing the reality of it to the middle and upper classes. He authored the article “How the Other Half Lives: Studies among the Tenementsof New York” in the year 1890 which he was invited to expand into a book of the same name.

Men's lodging room in West 47th Street Station

 The above photograph captured by Jacob Riis which was published in “How the Other Half Lives” shows the appalling conditions of a men’s lodging room in West 47th Street Police Station. As you can see beds have not even been provided and the men are expected to sleep wherever they can fit surrounded by dilapidated structures and debris. The men who would have used this lodging would have most likely been immigrants who have nowhere else to go. The squalor that they were forced to endure is beyond comprehension. These living conditions show that not even authority figures such as the Police respected these immigrants and the lower class population. Authority figures such as the Police’s lack of compassion for the lower class and immigrant community could have been influential to the way they were viewed by Americans.

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