Posts Tagged ‘Jacob Riis’

How the other half lived

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

On this day in 1870, Jacob Riis stepped off a ship from Denmark to begin a new life in New York. The immigration office found him a job in western Pennsylvania, but news of a war in Europe prompted him to soon return to New York City to volunteer to serve in the French Army.

The French Army didn’t want him. He had sold everything down to his boots to pay for the trip to New York, so now he was destitute and homeless. During the summer, he was able to find some seasonal work just outside the city, but when those jobs ended in the fall, he “joined the great army of tramps…fighting at night with vagrant curs or outcasts as miserable as myself for the protection of some sheltering ash-bin or doorway.”Jacob Riis - Bandit's Roost He spent weeks sleeping in doorways or alleys in the most notorious neighborhood in the country, Five Points. He was even evicted from the police station and put on a ferry to Jersey City. (more…)