JerseyStreet Tenements

Thisphoto is a depiction of a woman carrying a child and several menseated at another corner, seemingly very idle and disillusioned. Onthe same point with the people, there are several shacks shown,probably the place they recognize as their dwellings. The picturetends to deviate from laying focus on the people, as expected of anytypical picture rather, it tries to bring out the objects in such amanner that they stand out (“Historymatters”). The distance set triesto de-emphasize the subjects in order for the audience to see thedilapidated, squalid surroundings. The period of the photo, asposited by Czitrom (Chan par 13), was the era when people were tryingto start the social work movements in the US. Agreeably, the peoplein the photo are not really whites.

Withrespect to the video documentary, the photo seems to substantiate thefeelings that were against immigration during this period (PBS NY:video). This is especially because such lives were mainlycharacteristic of the immigrants, who would move into the US and,finding no work or employment to get them moving, resort to veryunhealthy living environments. This particular photo is a paragon ofthe works of Riis, whereby he used very little lighting and oftentook the photographs quite far from the subjects.

Generally, Riis was concerned about the kind oflives that the urban people lived, in terms of either morality, orthe general living standards and the environment in which they lived.Either way, he was in some way against the urban immigration that wascharacteristic of the time. This as he outlines in HowThe Other Half Lives, “. . .prompted legislative reforms, focused attention on the desperatelives of poor urban immigrants and left an enduring mark on thehistory of documentary photography.” As Czitrom points out, Riisbelieved that the main means of getting the people out of thesituation was just by themselves, not the state (Chan par 3).


“History matters.” The US Histopry courseon the web. Web. 12 June 2015. Accessed from:

PBS New York: A Documentary — Episode 3:Sunshine and Shadow (1 hour 50 minutes). Web. 12June 2015. Accessed from:

Chan S. Revisiting the Other Half of JacobRiis. Web. 12 June 2015. Accessed from: