Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Categories: History | North America | Society

In 1870, 21-year-old Jacob Riis immigrated from his native Denmark to the rapidly developing and growing New York. The young man had $ 40 in his pocket, a gold medallion with a lock of his beloved girl, whom he left, and a dream to work as a carpenter. Like hundreds of thousands of other immigrants, Riis came to the United States in search of a better life. However, all he found there was poverty, social inequality and unemployment. 

Riis had to settle in a dark and disease-ridden slum. The photographer lived in extreme need, unable to get a permanent job. He supported himself with one-time part-time jobs, was a farm assistant and a metal worker, until finally he got a job as a trainee journalist at the New York News Association. 

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Portrait of Jacob Riisa.

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Soon Riis began working as a reporter for the police and again encountered the unfortunate inhabitants of the slums.

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

The young man began to document in writing the plight of impoverished immigrants.

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

When words were not enough, Riis resorted to the last resort — photography.

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Jacob Riis began photographing poor neighborhoods, drinking establishments and those streets that the rest of New York did not want to know about. Riis often shot at night with a flash, which allowed him to capture in detail the immigrants and the miserable conditions in which they lived.

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Sleeping places in a furnished house.

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

In 1890, Jacob Riis combined his works into the photobook "How the Other Half Lives: Slums of New York" (How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York). Thanks to these photos, the public saw a sad reality unknown until then.

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

A blind man begs.

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

A woman suffering from tuberculosis lives on the roof.

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

The family makes artificial flowers.

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Sleeping quarters.

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

In the house of an Italian junk dealer.

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Homeless children.

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Children's playground.

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

At the office of The Sun newspaper, 3 a.m.

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

School lesson.

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Homeless children of Arab immigrants.

Jacob Riis: An immigrant photographer who shot an unknown half of New York

Boys from the Italian quarter.

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