'The story is dark enough, drawn from the plain public records, to send a chill to any heart.'
June 1, 2007 7:39 PM   Subscribe

How the Other Half Lives :: Studies Among the Tenements of New York (1890)
posted by anastasiav (14 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Predictably, the chapter on Waifs of the City's Slums nearly did me in ... its the mommy brain , I guess. The Sweaters of Jewtown and Chinatown are also ... eye opening.

Compare and contrast with the shiny-clean experience of NYC's Tenement Museum.
posted by anastasiav at 7:42 PM on June 1, 2007

Thanks for the link! This is great!
posted by watsondog at 7:57 PM on June 1, 2007

Amusing how enthusiastic and yet totally anectodal the style of writing is. And apparently "the Other Half" refers to the other half that couldn't read.
posted by phaedon at 8:01 PM on June 1, 2007

Fascinating. Thanks.
posted by serazin at 8:16 PM on June 1, 2007

Talk about nearly being done in (from the Street Arabs chapter) -
"There is a coal chute from the sidewalk to the boiler-room in the sub-cellar of the Post Office which the Society's officer found the boys had made into a sort of toboggan slide to a snug berth in wintry weather. They used to slyly raise the cover in the street, slide down in single file, and snuggle up to the warm boiler out of harm's way, as they thought. It proved a trap, however. The agent slid down himself one cold night--there was no other way of getting there--and, landing light in the midst of the sleeping colony, had it at his mercy. After repeated raids upon their headquarters, the boys forsook it last summer, and were next found herding under the shore-end of one of the East River banana docks, where they had fitted up a regular club-room that was shared by thirty or forty homeless boys and about a million rats."
posted by tellurian at 8:23 PM on June 1, 2007

This is fascinating. I had heard of the book but have never seen it before. The photography really makes it work. There is another similar site with the book and it has larger versions of the pictures and illustrations.
posted by caddis at 8:25 PM on June 1, 2007

the missing link
posted by caddis at 8:26 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

This book moved me deeply when I first encountered it in college, in a course on poverty and social movements, and I am delighted to see it publicly available online. Thanks for the post.

It does remind one that the capacity for outrage stimulated by the revelation of awful truths has, seemingly, diminished in the interim, pace Abu Ghraib.

If you read one section only, make it the "Working Girls" chapter.
posted by spitbull at 8:33 PM on June 1, 2007

I taught this one time, my students found it overwhelming. Of course it was his photographs that had the larger public impact. Here is a short slide show of Riis photos. This page at Harvard University's Open Collections program has 10 Riis books available in full text, plus additional texts from the time period.
posted by LarryC at 9:30 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

I will definitely save this link to read later. Thanks.
posted by Iron Rat at 10:09 PM on June 1, 2007

Riis' hometown in Denmark, Ribe, has an interesting memorial plaque honoring him. (self link). Lars von Trier, also a Dane, is arguably quoting Riis when he fills the ending credits of Dogville with a montage of pictures of poor Americans -- although von Trier obviously has a much less charitable view of the States, and unlike Riis, never set foot there.
posted by squid patrol at 3:14 AM on June 2, 2007

Thanks for the link... and thanks also to others who posted related links.
posted by LadyBonita at 12:57 PM on June 2, 2007

The things you don't learn in school ....
posted by Twang at 2:31 PM on June 2, 2007

There is a book at my local library, "the anti-society" that covers similar ground from a British perspective.
posted by Iron Rat at 7:10 PM on June 2, 2007

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