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Jacob Riis

Jacob Riis
Usage Conditions Apply
Unidentified Artist
Jacob Riis, 3 May 1849 - 26 May 1914
c. 1900
Gelatin silver print
Image/Sheet: 24.5 x 14.2cm (9 5/8 x 5 9/16")
Mat: 55.9 x 40.6cm (22 x 16")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Howard Greenberg
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
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Exhibition Label
Perhaps the poverty he endured as an immigrant led Jacob Riis to his life's work as a reformer. In 1877 he joined the staff of the New York Tribune as a police reporter and was drawn to stories involving the disadvantaged. Massive immigration from southern and eastern Europe had a profound effect on American cities such as New York, where poverty and squalor were endemic. Riis voiced his outrage over their misery in his masterpiece, How the Other Half Lives (1890). Setting the foundations for modern photojournalism, Riis used technical innovations to photograph the dark interiors of tenements. He formed a close friendship with Theodore Roosevelt, who, as police commissioner and later governor of the New York, worked with Riis to improve tenement conditions.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection