Jacob Riis

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Jacob Riis (1849-1914) was an American journalist, photographer, and advocate for the Social Gospel.[1] Although associated with the "muckraker" brand of journalism, Riis devoted a good deal of his life to chronicling the lives of those less fortunate, especially in New York city.

How the Other Half Lives

Riis compiled his photographs in his seminal work, How the Other Half Lives, a testament to the poverty of the lower east side of New York in the 1800s. The title was intended as a call to arms, to remind more fortunate Americans of the elite status they enjoyed, and to foster social consciousness and charity.

Riis' subjects are immortalized in the "Jacob Riis Houses," near Alphabet City, a neighborhood in the lower east side which, while in the process of gentrification, is still characterized by some poverty.


In 1912, Riis campaigned for Theodore Roosevelt.


  1. (1999) Encyclopedia of Religion in American Politics, Volume 2. Phoenix, Arizona: Greenwood Publishing Group, 215. ISBN 978-1573561303. 

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