The Squalid Living Conditions of NYC’s Immigrants in 1890

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The Squalid Living Conditions of NYC’s Immigrants in 1890
The Squalid Living Conditions of NYC's Immigrants in 1890
The Squalid Living Conditions of NYC’s Immigrants in 1890




The squalid living conditions of NYC’s immigrants in 1890 really offer a horrific insights into The Big Apple’s shady past. New York was the place everybody wanted to go to during the late 1800’s, but the conditions awaiting these new immigrants were far from what many were expecting.

Jacob Riis was a Danish immigrant who moved to New York in 1870, at the age of 21. He went to America, like all immigrants for that matter, in pursuit of a better life, a life which Europe of that time could not offer.

The difference between his expectations and the reality he was faced with while arriving on Ellis Island was huge and beyond his imagination. Considering that New York was still being built to sustain the large flux of immigrants moving into the city. This quickly led to people being placed in squalid living conditions before (and most of the times even during) they could find a job in order to make a living.

The Squalid Living Conditions of NYC's Immigrants in 1890
The Squalid Living Conditions of NYC’s Immigrants in 1890

Jacob Riis had to struggle a lot with these harsh accommodations, but luckily he was able to find a job as a journalist-in-training at the New York News Association. Becoming more and more acquainted with the journalistic world, he started to document these squalid living conditions he was also forced to live in upon arrival in The Big Apple.

This is how this incredible photo series started and now it can be referred to as a true testament of the past. Most New Yorkers back then weren’t even aware of what immigrants had to face to before earning their first real money.

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The Danish photographer went on to publish his first works in 1890, and the book featuring his entire photo series, called “How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York”, is available on Amazon, right here.