Jacob Riis – The Other Half: How It Lives and Dies in New York

Jacob Riis presents “The Other Half: How It Lives and Dies in New York” in a pioneering moment in photo journalism on January, 27th 1888.

The Danish immigrant became with this work a famous campaigner against slum housing. Through photos and writings he documented poverty in New York City. He was able to make this stunning photos with a new developed flash light made in Germany. Riis’ burst of light made the dim, airless lives of the poor visible to the middle class.
He shows The Lower East Side as it was in 1888: the most densely populated place on Earth. The working-poor immigrants of the city, including Italians, Irish, Germans, Jews, Czechs and Chinese, lived in tenements houses under miserable circumstances.

His book stimulated the first significant New York legislation to curb poor conditions in tenement housing. It was also an important predecessor to muckraking journalism, which took shape in the United States after 1900.

Riis was a social reformer who was also, with his slideshows and lectures, a natural showman.
He delivered his first lecture on January 22, 1888, at the Society of Amateur Photographers of New York. 

Terry Borton of the American Magic-Lantern Theater has created the abridged version of the lecture playing here. The script is based on a transcript of an illustrated talk Riis delivered in Washington, D.C., in 1891. This presentation was produced by the Museum of the City of New York for Jacob A. Riis: Revealing New York’s Other Half (October 14, 2015–March 20, 2016).

How the Other Half lives – a lecture.

Please check also the npr podcast Jacob Riis: Shedding Light On NYC’s ‘Other Half’.

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