Jacob Riis came to NYC in 1870 at the age of 21. He had $40 in his pocket, which he quickly spent. Unemployed, he lived for a time in the city’s notorious slums before working his way up the social and economic ladder to become one of New York’s strongest advocates for reform. Riis also took early advantage of flash photography to steer his camera into the city’s darkest corners — tenements, dark alleys, sweatshops, opium dens, beer halls — and emerged with photographs that helped shift public opinion on NYC’s poverty and slums.
Collections of Riis’ photography can be viewed at Museum Syndicate and the Museum of the City of New York. Riis included many of his photographs in a book he published in 1890 called How the Other Half Lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York. (via petapixel)