Five Cents Lodging Bayard Street Analysis

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Jacob Riis’ photo, Five Cents Lodging, Bayard Street (1889), expresses a moral environmentalist approach similar to that of Van Hoffman because of its cluttered and humanizing elements that display the tired and sleeping faces in a dull, crowded, and unclean lodging room. The first thing that comes to the forefront is the scenery. The crowded and dirty room distracts people from the people who are actually living in it. The viewer is immediately distracted and displeased with these elements. Riis uses this tool to create a visceral reaction of disgust with the living conditions of the lodging. The reader is compelled to question whether this is adequate lodging and if 5 cents is exactly cheap enough. In this way, the viewer makes the quick…show more content…
They’re faces peak above torn, dirty thin sheets that cover them for sleep. The viewer is forced to recognize that these people don’t have much. They pay to be bunched together in small quarters—perhaps to avoid the cold. And if you look onto their faces, they are tired. Some lay back up from discomfort while others prop themselves up on walls. There are no formal beds. There appears to be piled cloths and old cushions that are being used as fabric to soften the metal structures set up for people to sleep. Even in this picture, the environment dehumanizes the people within it. Like the furniture, dishes, and luggage, these people are meant to be put away somewhere so that they are not on the streets. It’s an inhuman response to a real human need for safety and shelter. These people are clearly workers. They have money to rent the lodging, but the amount of money they make does not appear to be equal to the value they add to the world around them. This is an example of the other side of the world like in New York: A Documentary Film. This is the world that sits in the shadows of the production and growth of that time. Their poverty becomes an untold story that changes the perception of what the American dream is (Ric
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