Jacob Riis.Children’sPlayground,PovertyGap.1892.MusCityNY

Jacob Riis, 1892: Children’s Playground. He was a Danish-born immigrant to America who arrived with a few dollars and a dream; he didn’t speak English or know anyone, but he found a job as a news photographer and began shooting pictures of immigrant lives in the slums of New York City, where whole families (or total strangers) slept 10 to a room. No one else in the city was documenting their existence – or the city’s role in maintaining their poverty. We’re looking at a city park here, nothing but dirt and a decrepit swing set; it caused a political scandal for the police commissioner, who was in charge of immigrant settlement. He appointed a commission and cleaned up the worst abuses and spurred his campaign for governor of New York. His name was Theodore Roosevelt, who never forgot Jacob Riis, the photographer. (Museum of the City of New York)

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