Jacob A. Riis — How the Other Half Lives

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Jacob Riis came to America from Denmark in 1870 at age twenty-one. As a police reporter, Riis came to know intimately the Lower East Side slums of New York. He pioneered the use of flash powder, which allowed him to shed light on the dark, squalid tenements and on New York nightlife. The publication of How the Other Half Lives in 1890 shocked the upper and middle classes of New York. The book’s photographs confronted them with irrefutable evidence of the appalling conditions in which many of their fellow citizens lived. The work identified crowded and unsanitary tenements as the root cause of crime and moral decay. Riis’s work led directly to widespread social and housing reform that saved thousands of lives, making it perhaps the most important book in the history of photojournalism and social reform


“How the Other Half Lives. Studies Among the Tenements of New York”. With 100 Photographs from the Jacob A. Riis Collection. Preface by Charles A. Madison. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., later reprint (1971 / 1890)

Oblonged photoillustrated wrappers. XIII, 233 pp. Illustrated with Riis’ black and white photographs. Clean and tight copy

Later (good) reprint of “one of the most important photobooks ever published” (Parr & Badger, I, 53)

Jacob A. Riis — How the Other Half Lives