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July 28, 2013

42 Incredible Vintage Photographs That Capture Slum Life in New York City in the Late 19th Century

Jacob A. Riis arrived in New York in 1870. As the economy slowed, the Danish American photographer found himself among the many other immigrants in the area whose daily life consisted of joblessness, hunger, homelessness, and thoughts of suicide. So when he finally found work as a police reporter in 1877, he made it his mission to reveal the crime and poverty of New York City’s East Side slum district to the world.

It cost a dollar a month to sleep in these sheds

Home of an Italian ragpicker

Street Arabs – tens of thousands of begging homeless kids, mostly boys

Bohemian cigarmakers at work in their tenement

A pedlar who slept in the cellar of 11 Ludlow Street

A shoemaker in 219 Broome Street

Bunks in a seven-cent lodging house named Happy Jack's Canvas Palace, Pell Street

Essex Market School, East Side

A Black-and-Tan Dive in "Africa"

Sabbath Eve in a coal cellar, Ludlow Street

The Short-Tail Gang, Corlears Hook, under the Pier at the foot of Jackson Street

Street Arabs – tens of thousands of begging homeless kids, mostly boys

Under the dump, Rivington Street

A Talmud school in Hester Street


Hell's Kitchen

Mountain Eagle and his Family of Iroquois Indians — One of the few Indian families in the city, found at 6 Beach Street

Eldridge Street Police Station

Getting ready for supper in the newsboys' lodging-house

A school on the East Side

A Rear Tenement in Roosevelt Street

Baxter Street Alley, behind the Bandit's Roost

A downtown "morgue" (an unlicensed saloon)

West 47th Street

Immigrant children saluting the flag in the Mott Street Industrial School

Headquarters of the Whyo gang, Bottle Alley

Dens of Death

Men's lodging room in West 47th Street Station

Under the dump at West 35th Street

Police Station lodgers in Elizabeth Street Station

A family making artificial flowers

Baxter Street, Mulberry Bend

Mulberry Bend

A Flat in the Pauper's Barracks with All Its Furniture

Lodgers in a crowded flat on Bayard Street. It cost five cents a day

Mulberry Bend Park


The old Mrs. Benoit in her tenement on Hudson Street

Police Station Lodgers

Scene on the Roof on the Mott Street Barracks

"Knee-pants" at forty-five cents a dozen – A Ludlow street sweatshop

Bandits Roost, a Mulberry Street back alley

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