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The Mixed Crowd in Jacob Riis How the Other Half Lives

In How the Other Half Lives, Jacob Riis documented a part of New York that was not usually seen through the naked eye. In the book, he called the attention of authorities to the living conditions of more than half of New Yorkers in the 1890’s. With magnificent documentation and photographs, he was able to discuss and give solutions to the urban problems that surrounded most of New Yorkers during that time(Riis). The book is cut into many chapters and each has a defining theme that Riis puts on his commentaries.

The Chapter that etched its marked in my mind was The Mixed Crowd. In this chapter, Riis observes that most tenements in New York is not occupied by native New Yorkers but instead, of a very diverse crowd that included many races and cultures. Riis tells the stories of different people from all over the world and how they cannot afford to have a decent house—it is because New Yorkers see them as beggars and undeserving of a healthy American living condition. In the end, he was successful in conveying to his readers the actual situations that these people are experiencing.

But more than, it should also be noted that he did not only elaborated on their problems but also, he gave suggestions on how and what the government should do to alleviate these people from the slums. His efforts paid off during the years to come when immigrants were given a decent place to live in. This book not only discusses how people in the tenements live their lives but also, Riis provided photographs to capture on how they actually live. Through his journalistic appeal, he was able to show to his readers how truly the other half lives.

Works Cited

Riis, Jacob A. How the Other Half Lives Penguin Classics, 1997.

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