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June 22, 2014

Amazing Vintage Photographs Captured Everyday Life in New York City From the 1890s

Danish-born Jacob Riis (1849-1914) was a social reformer and photojournalist. He is best known for his 1890 book How the Other Half Lives, which brought public attention to New York's squalid housing, sweatshops, bars, and alleys.

The City Museum holds the complete collection of images that Riis used in his writing and lecturing career, including photographs he made, commissioned, or acquired. These depict men, women, and children of many nationalities at home, work, and leisure.

This collection contains vintage prints, glass-plate negatives, and lantern slides, as well as a set of recently produced prints from all of Riis's original negatives.

The Mulberry Bend.

Portrait of three girls who served as inspectors in the first Board of Election at the Beach Street Industrial School.

An old woman with the plank she sleeps on at the Eldridge Street Station women's lodging room.

"I Scrubs," Little Katie from the W. 52nd Street Industrial School (since moved to W. 53rd Street).

Lodgers in a crowded Bayard Street tenement.

Italian mother and her baby in Jersey Street.

Men in a crowded in an "Black and Tan" dive bar.

In sleeping quarters - Rivington Street Dump.

A man atop a make-shift bed that consists of a plank across two barrels.

Ludlow Street Hebrew making ready for Sabbath Eve in his coal cellar -- bread on his table.

James M'Bride, one of the City's Pensioners, Father of the notorious Blanche Douglass.

Three children curled up on a metal grate in a below-grade areaway.

Prayer time in the nursery, Five Points House of Industry.

In a Sweat Shop.

Talmud School in a Hester Street Tenement.

A woman holding a child, and men sitting in a rear yard of a Jersey Street tenement.

Minding the Baby.

Daytime foot traffic on Hester Street.

Three Iroquois women working at a table at 511 Broome Street.

Police Station Lodging Rooms, Church Street Station.

Playground established in Poverty Gap in the "Alley Gang" preserves.

A rear-lot house on Bleecker Street as seen from an adjacent excavation site.

A woman with an infant seated at a table with a boy using writing tools.

Laborers loading coffins into an open trench at the city burial ground on Hart's Island.

An ash barrel on the sidewalk.

Little Susie at her work.

Children and a woman sit on an inclined cellar door.

Newsboys cleaning their faces in a lodging house washroom.

Young students salute the American flag at Mott Street Industrial School.

Night school in the Seventh Avenue Lodging House - run by The Children's Aid Society.

Under the dump at West 47th Street.

Women sleeping on plank beds and the floor.

A hallway at the condemned Essex Market School filled with students playing.

Police Station Lodging Room 5. Midnight in the Leonard Street Station.

Old Barney in Cat Alley.

Cat Alley, when it was being torn down.

Baby in slum tenement, dark stairs--it's playground.

(via Museum of the City of New York)


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