One photographer that stood out in the late 1800’s was Jacob Riis.  Riis was born in Ribe, Denmark and came to the United States  in 1870, when he turned 21.  He immediately found himself living in poverty, moving from lodging house to lodging house, unable to find a steady job. 

  His first entry into journalism came three years after coming to New York City.  He found a job as a police reporter with the New York Evening Sun and from this, Riis found his passion with photography.   The neighborhoods which he was assigned to cover were the neighborhoods of high crime rates which ironically contained a large population of immigrants.  Eventually, Riis began to bring a camera with him when he would cover these neighborhoods so he could document how poor these living situations were.  As someone who once had this style of poor living, Riis could associate well with the less fortunate.   

   Riis is also well known for his novel,  How The Other Half Lives, where he accurately depicts just how poor these living commons were.  Riis was not alone in this efforts.  Theodore Roosevelt was a close friend with Riis and as police commissioner, he asked Riis to bring him along to show him exactly how the immigrants were living.  

I truly believe that Riis was one of a kind.  He made it his mission to make sure that no one would have to endure what he went through when he came to America.   As someone who lives in the city that he was trying to help, I can safely say his work has not gone unappreciated.  After his death in 1914, New York renamed a park in Rockaway to Jacob Riis park, where it still lies today.  

 

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