Jacob Riis

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by 8AC017
Last updated 6 years ago

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Jacob Riis


Jacob Riis was passionate about slum life because he wanted people to see these pictures and change the way they thought about the poor. Coming from a poverty strucken family, and and living as a slum, Jacob knew what these people had to go through. Espically the children. Jacob Riis wanted everyone to know about this problem through his dedicated work. He took some of the best pictures that made the wealthy and others give in to help.

Jacob Riis helped to change many people's perspective on slum and tenement life. His work inspired a variety of progressive reforms, including the tearing down of the Mulberry Bend tenement block, the building of a center, named after him, to help the poor. His books and newspaper articles were used to show people that immigrants were not as bad as they thought them to be. His ideas challenged the conservative view that nothing could or should be done about the slums.

What Jacob Did

Jacob Riis was employed by the New York News Assosiation, and later won a cover job as a police reporter. Jacob was assigned to work where the worst slums and tenements were. He used flash photography to document articles and lectures. Jacob Riis emphaszied the dehumanizing conditions of New York's slums. He also used his photographs to illistrate his newspaper articles and books. His work inspired numerous reformers and gave his book more credibility, power, and influence.



Jacob Riis was born in Ribe, Denmark on May 3rd, 1849. He was born into poverty with a family of 14, and recieved very little education. He trained to become a carpenter, and helped his father prepare copies for a weekly newspaper. After his rejection of proposal to Elisabeth Nielson, Riis later immigrated to the states in 1870, where he again began to live in poverty. He got a job as a police reporter where he then took pictures to persuade people on slum life. He later died at the age of 65.

Jacob Riis

This is one of the many pictures that Jacob Riis took of slum life.

Slum Life


"The slum is the measure of civilization"."When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it".

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Jacob Riis's Book


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