How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York, by Jacob A. Riis

Artist: Jacob A. Riis

Title: How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York

Year created: 1890

Location: New York, USA

Materials: photography, journalism

What is the piece’s impact? The book became a best seller, and is credited with improvements in Lower East Side conditions. Sewers, garbage collection, and indoor plumbing all followed soon after, in part due to public reaction to the publication of Riis’ book. It’s still referenced today as a classic example of the power of art to educate, persuade, and motivate people towards social change.

How does this project relate to this change as art? This project uses a combination of photography and journalism. The images very clearly depict the poor living conditions face by those (often new immigrants) living tenement slums in NYC.

What makes this an artistic project? Riis is known to have been a social documentary photographer. The images of this project are skillfully shot and are curated with the text for maximum effect.

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