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Jacob A. Riis


Danish-born Jacob Riis (1849-1914) was a journalist, social reformer, and social documentary photographer. 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 Museum holds the complete collection that Riis used in his writing and lecturing career, including images he made, commissioned, or acquired. These depict men, women, and children of all 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.
Women's Lodging Room in Eldridge Street Police Station.

Women's Lodging Room in Eldridge Street Police Station.

Women sleeping on plank beds and the floor.

A Downtown "Morgue."

A Downtown "Morgue."

Men in a crowded in an "Black and Tan" dive bar.

The Riverside Tenements in Brooklyn.

The Riverside Tenements in Brooklyn.


The only Bath-tub in the Block: it hangs in the Air Shaft.

The only Bath-tub in the Block: it hangs in the Air Shaft.


[Lower East Side Street Scene.]

[Lower East Side Street Scene.]


Athletic meets in Crotona Park.

Athletic meets in Crotona Park.

Boys and girls engaged in dumbell and unison excercises at a public school athletic meet.

Public School 167 in the Bronx, Main Entrance.

Public School 167 in the Bronx, Main Entrance.


Public School 175 in the Bronx, Jerome Avenue north of 184th Street.

Public School 175 in the Bronx, Jerome Avenue north of 184th Street.


Mulbery Bend Park taken in 1900.

Mulbery Bend Park taken in 1900.


[Police Station Lodger.]

[Police Station Lodger.]

A man on the floor of a police station lodging house.

North Brother Island--"The coffin corner".

North Brother Island--"The coffin corner".


2 a.m. in the delivery room in the "Sun" office.

2 a.m. in the delivery room in the "Sun" office.


[Chinese Opium Joint.]

[Chinese Opium Joint.]

Photographs, Prints & Drawings

The Division Street Park site -- as it was when tenements were cleared away, taken 1898.

The Division Street Park site -- as it was when tenements were cleared away, taken 1898.

The cleared blocks of land to become Division Street Park.

[Thompson Street, bird's eye view.]

[Thompson Street, bird's eye view.]

Clotheslines across the backyards of tenements on Thompson Street.

Men's lodging room in West 47th Street Station.

Men's lodging room in West 47th Street Station.


Two Greek children in Gotham Court debating if Santa Claus will get to their alley or not. He did.

Two Greek children in Gotham Court debating if Santa Claus will get to their alley or not. He did.


[Bringing foundling to police.]

[Bringing foundling to police.]


The Same Street when Colonel Waring wielded the Broom.

The Same Street when Colonel Waring wielded the Broom.


[Mulberry Street.]

[Mulberry Street.]


[Well-dressed man being thrown into jail.]

[Well-dressed man being thrown into jail.]

A police officer forcing a well-dressed man into a police station holding cell.

Morris High School in the Bronx from the Front, South west

Morris High School in the Bronx from the Front, South west

South West view of Morris High School and surrounding residential buildings.

A Tammany-swept East Side Street before Col. Waring's Day.

A Tammany-swept East Side Street before Col. Waring's Day.

Hand-colored view of a filthy East 5th Street during the Tammany era.

Public School 105 in Manhattan at the vacation playgrounds in Bronx-Park. August 19th 1902.

Public School 105 in Manhattan at the vacation playgrounds in Bronx-Park. August 19th 1902.

Boys taking a lunch break at the vacation playground of Public School 105 in the Bronx Park.

[Children tending to the garden.]

[Children tending to the garden.]


The Mott Street Boys, "Keep off the Grass".

The Mott Street Boys, "Keep off the Grass".

Two boys holding sticks lean on a fence that reads "Please Keep Off the Grass".

Bandits' Roost - a Mulberry Bend Alley.

Bandits' Roost - a Mulberry Bend Alley.


Bottle Alley, Baxter Street.

Bottle Alley, Baxter Street.


Street Arabs -- night, Boys in sleeping quarter.

Street Arabs -- night, Boys in sleeping quarter.

Three boys curled around a barrel, asleep at the bottom of stairs.

2 a.m. in the delivery room in the "Sun" office.

2 a.m. in the delivery room in the "Sun" office.


Shine, sir?

Shine, sir?

Tommy holding his bootblack kit.

"Knee-pants" at forty five cents a dozen -- A Ludlow Street Sweater's Shop.

"Knee-pants" at forty five cents a dozen -- A Ludlow Street Sweater's Shop.


Necktie workshop in a Division Street tenement.

Necktie workshop in a Division Street tenement.


King's Daughters Tenement Chapter, Christmas tree in Gotham Court.

King's Daughters Tenement Chapter, Christmas tree in Gotham Court.

Teachers and pupils gathered around a Christmas tree from the Tenement-House Chapter of the King's Daughters...

Minding the baby; Baby yells a Whirlwind Scream, Gotham Court.

Minding the baby; Baby yells a Whirlwind Scream, Gotham Court.

A young boy holding a baby, a woman reaches for them.

The Survival of the Unfittest.

The Survival of the Unfittest.

The construction site for an addition to the Puck Building on Mulberry Street.

Typical Tenement Fire escape, serving as an extension of the "flat" -- Allen Street.

Typical Tenement Fire escape, serving as an extension of the "flat" -- Allen Street.


A Vegetable Stand in the Mulberry Street Bend with Myself [Jacob A. Riis]  in the picture.

A Vegetable Stand in the Mulberry Street Bend with Myself [Jacob A. Riis] in the picture.


Baxter Street Alley in Mulberry Bend, now destroyed.

Baxter Street Alley in Mulberry Bend, now destroyed.


First Aid to Injured, Public School.

First Aid to Injured, Public School.

Children in a first aid class in summer school at Brooklyn's P.S. 32.

First Aid to Injured, Public School.

First Aid to Injured, Public School.

Children in a first aid class in summer school at Brooklyn's P.S. 32.

Children's Playground. Good citizenship at the Bottom of this Barrel.

Children's Playground. Good citizenship at the Bottom of this Barrel.

A child halfway into a barrel under a water faucet.

Tenement House Commission. Typical East Side Block "short view".

Tenement House Commission. Typical East Side Block "short view".


Ribe Domkirke. The "pagan" that was uncovered when the white wash of centuries was removed in the restoration (1904) -- see him up in the top of the arch to the left. He is supposed to be protecting a

Ribe Domkirke. The "pagan" that was uncovered when the white wash of centuries was removed in the restoration (1904) -- see him up in the top of the arch to the left. He is supposed to be protecting a


Rogue's Gallery. Dennis Driscoll, McGloin and another murderer -- Murderers.

Rogue's Gallery. Dennis Driscoll, McGloin and another murderer -- Murderers.

Mug shots of three criminals. According to Thomas Byrnes's "Professional Criminals of America" (1886...

Street Arabs in sleeping quarters.

Street Arabs in sleeping quarters.

Three children curled up on a metal grate in a below-grade areaway.

A mile from daylight.

A mile from daylight.


Battle Row Model Tenement, City & Suburban Homes Co.'s new tenements on First Ave. 1900.

Battle Row Model Tenement, City & Suburban Homes Co.'s new tenements on First Ave. 1900.


The Verdict of the Rogue Gallery.

The Verdict of the Rogue Gallery.

Mugs shots of eight teenage outlaws and their fates.

The Short Tail Gang (Corlears Hook) Pier at foot of Jackson Street, now Corlears Hook Park. Photographed from the Police Boat.

The Short Tail Gang (Corlears Hook) Pier at foot of Jackson Street, now Corlears Hook Park. Photographed from the Police Boat.


[Young men around the tent.]

[Young men around the tent.]


Police Station Lodging Room 4. Oak Street Station, Six boys picked out of the draft in the men's lodging room.

Police Station Lodging Room 4. Oak Street Station, Six boys picked out of the draft in the men's lodging room.


A Seven-cent Lodging House in the Bowery.

A Seven-cent Lodging House in the Bowery.

Men in bunk bed hammocks.

The Short Tail Gang (Corlears Hook) Pier at foot of Jackson Street, now Corlears Hook Park. Photographed from the Police Boat.

The Short Tail Gang (Corlears Hook) Pier at foot of Jackson Street, now Corlears Hook Park. Photographed from the Police Boat.


[Mulberry Street Jailyard.]

[Mulberry Street Jailyard.]


Recreation Piers.

Recreation Piers.

Photographic reproduction a painting of a New York recreation pier.

The Tramp.

The Tramp.

A pipe-smoking man seated in a yard in front of a ramshakle shanty.

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