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Riis Photography

Riis’s photography in the late 1800’s walks us through the grueling, arduous life of immigrants in the slums of New York City. Some of the most appalling photos show the living conditions, of dangerous infrastructure or barren shacks. The walls were quite literally falling down in some photos. Additionally beds and rooming were documented, however the beds were just wooden boards with rope or cloth tied together providing a surface on which to sleep at the most minimal expense. I found the children photographed to be quite moving, whether on the single slide available for them to play on which was hardly a slide to begin with, or the children sitting with their father who worked in the coal industry. However, the picture provided was interesting to me in how¬†the caption spoke about the story of the image. These boys falling asleep in class were not simply bored, but they were in night class presumably due to their work in the sweat shops that were also pictured. Not only were they working long, strenuous days but additionally attending classes at night in order to perhaps one day have the education to earn a more dignified living or provide a better opportunity for their family in the future.


Riis, Jacob. How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York.
1890. American Studies, U of Virginia,
photography/images/riisphotos/slideshow1.html. Accessed 8 Feb. 2017.

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