How The Other Half Lives Chapter Summaries

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How the Other Half Lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York was an early publication of photojournalism by Jacob Riis, documenting squalid living conditions in New York City slums in the 1880s. It served as a basis for future "muckraking" journalism by exposing the slums to New York City’s upper and middle classes. History and contents In the 1890s many people in upper- and middle-class society were unaware of the dangerous conditions in the slums among poor immigrants. Jacob Riis, a Danish immigrant who himself could not originally find much work, hoped to expose the squalor of the 19th-century Lower East Side of Manhattan. After a successful career as a police reporter, he published a photojournal documenting these conditions using graphic descriptions, sketches, photographs, and statistics. Riis blamed the apathy of the monied class for the …show more content…

Due to its disturbing pictures and articles, the city's rich newspaper owners had refused to publish it. Yet soon the article proved to be popular and Riis spent the better part of a year expanding it into the book How the Other Half Lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York, published by Scribner's Books in 1890. The title of the book is a reference to a sentence by French writer François Rabelais, who famously wrote in Pantagruel: "one half of the world does not know how the other half lives" . In How the Other Half Lives Riis describes the system of tenement housing that had failed, as he claims, due to greed and neglect from wealthier people. He claims a correlation between the high crime rate, drunkenness and reckless behaviour of the poor and their lack of a proper home. Chapter by chapter he uses his words and photographs to expose the conditions inhabited by the poor in a manner that “spoke directly to people's

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