Social Reformer, Jacob Riis

Jacob Riis came to the U.S. from Denmark in 1870 with $40, half of which he spent right away on a revolver to have for self defense.

For years of his early beginnings in his new home, he bounced from job to job, and lived some of the time sleeping in the streets and eating leftover scraps of food from local restaurants.

But he was educated and worked hard. And eventually he came across good luck. He became a journalist and found stability in life. Yet, still he wanted to do more.

It was around this time that photography was growing as a technology. Jacob got involved in taking pictures and started to capture how the poor of New York lived.

In 1890, he published these photographs in “How the Other Half Lives”, thus giving the world an opportunity to see the harsh life of NYC slums.

This work would help drive social reforms and improve life for many in the city.