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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Jacob Riis: A Downtown "Morgue" Men Drinking in a Dive Bar, c1890

A downtown Morgue men drinking in a dive bar
photo by Jacob A. Riis, c. 1890
(The Old New York Page's Photos)
no copyright infringement intended

Danish-born Jacob August Riis (1849-1914) was a social reformer and photojournalist. He is best known for his 1890 book How the Other Half Lives, which brought public attention to New York's squalid housing, sweatshops, bars, and alleys. The City Museum holds the complete collection of images that Riis used in his writing and lecturing career, including photographs he made, commissioned, or acquired. These depict men, women, and children of many nationalities at home, work, and leisure. This collection contains vintage prints, glass-plate negatives, and lantern slides, as well as a set of recently produced prints from all of Riis's original negatives.

Jacob August Riis (May 3, 1849 – May 26, 1914) was a Danish American social reformer, muckraking journalist and social documentary photographer. He is known for using his photographic and journalistic talents to help the impoverished in New York City; those impoverished New Yorkers were the subject of most of his prolific writings and photography. He endorsed the implementation of model tenements in New York with the help of humanitarian Lawrence Veiller. Additionally, as one of the most famous proponents of the newly practicable casual photography, he is considered one of the fathers of photography due to his very early adoption of flash in photography. While living in New York, Riis experienced poverty and became a police reporter writing about the quality of life in the slums. He attempted to alleviate the bad living conditions of poor people by exposing their living conditions to the middle and upper classes.

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