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Though not the only official to take up the cause that Jacob Riis had brought to light, Roosevelt was especially active in addressing the treatment of the poor. Then, see what life was like inside the slums inhabited by New York's immigrants around the turn of the 20th century. The photos that sort of changed the world likely did so in as much as they made us all feel something. Previous Post.
Jacob Riis changed all that. Children stand in Mullen's Alley.
An Italian immigrant man smokes a pipe in his makeshift home under the Rivington Street Dump. Equally unsurprisingly, those that were left on the fringes to fight for whatever scraps of a living they could were the city's poor immigrants. Unsurprisingly, the city couldn't seamlessly take in so many new residents all at once. By 1890, he was able to publish his historic photo collection whose title perfectly captured just how revelatory his work would prove to be: Children attend class at the Essex Market school.
Members of the infamous "Short Tail" gang sit under the pier at Jackson Street. Confined to crowded, disease-ridden neighborhoods filled with ramshackle tenements that might house 12 adults in a room that was 13 feet across, New York's immigrant poor lived a life of struggle — but a struggle confined to the slums and thus hidden from the wider public eye.
A shoemaker at work on Broome Street.
It's little surprise that Roosevelt once said that he was tempted to call Riis "the best American I ever knew. A Bohemian family at work making cigars inside their tenement home. Circa 1888-1898.
Circa 1890. A young girl, holding a baby, sits in a doorway next to a garbage can. Report a bad ad experience. A woman works in her attic on Hudson Street.
Children sit inside a school building on West 52nd Street. Over the next three decades, it would nearly quadruple. Circa 1887-1890. And Roosevelt was true to his word. In the three decades leading up to his arrival, the city's population , driven relentlessly upward by intense immigration, had more than tripled.