American History during the Gilded Age

Better Essays
How Jacob Riis’ “How the Other Half Lives” Brought Social Change via Photography

Jacob Riis’ “How the Other Half Lives” brought to light the disparity between the exorbitantly wealthy of New York and the immigrants who live in the slums such as the Five Points. Urban populations grew exponentially in the United States when floods of immigrants entered through Ellis Island. During the turn of the 20th century corruption was embedded in every aspect of industry, economy, justice, and politics. This corruption lead to inequality and a tremendous gap in income and lifestyle between New York’s upper and middle class and the lower class composed mostly of new immigrants. There was little regard for living conditions of the lower class. Work standards were non-existent and the health and safety of laborers were ignored during the Gilded Age. Riis sought to show how this ignorance effected the poorest and most helpless of New Yorkers.

Riis first struggled to gain the public’s attention to the issue. However, flash photography changed everything as Riis was able to capture images of the slums so disturbing and unsettling that the country could no longer ignore them. Riis’ photos revealed the unimaginable conditions that the poor had to live in. In “How the Other Half Lives” Riis first called to attention the dramatic rise of tenements in New York. The number of those living in tenements rose to well over one million people in New York. He gave statistic after statistic showing the growing population of the lower class. As the average incomes for the upper and middle class climbed, the number of people thrown into the lower class with no hope of getting out also rose. It was Riis’ photos that finally got the attention of the nation.

The pictures that Riis took were startling. Tenements were exposed to be unsanitary and beyond uncomfortable. There was no light, no fresh air, no plumbing or running water. According to Riis over three-fourths of New York’s

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Jasmine Dye Essay 2 New Spirits “The Gilded Age” is one of the most vivid clichés applied to the country’s history. It conjures up the image of dishonest political bosses and wealthy American business men. Like many clichés, this image is not so much untrue as oversimplified. During the four decades after the Civil War, American society went from being a small-town, commercial, and agricultural country to the world's leading industrial power, with cities so huge and complex. The economy increasingly…

    • 593 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    political life in the Gilded Age was marked by ineptitude and stalemate as passive, rather than active, presidents merely served as figureheads to be manipulated rather than enduring strongholds. As politicians from both the White House to the courthouse were deeply entangled in corruption and scandal during the Gilded Age, the actual economic and social issues afflicting urbanizing America festered beneath the surface without being seriously addressed. During this time, general American attention had…

    • 948 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    History Of The Gilded Age

    • 322 Words
    • 2 Pages

    The Gilded Age became significantly popular in America during the 19th century. The term “Gilded Age” was coined by the American author Mark Twain based on the presence of corruption and exploitation during the time period (Sayre 1049). The Gilded era was marked by the growth of industrialization, urbanization and a high immigration influx of nonnative Americans (Sayre 1048-1049). Furthermore, the Gilded Age proved to be significant in westward expansion as many individuals migrated to the West in…

    • 322 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    During the nineteenth century Americans were experiencing something they had never seen before. From one perspective America was flourishing, big companies owned a vast majority of America’s wealth and were gaining more power every day. But the truth was the majority of people were stuck in poverty with no way out. The upper class was small and lived lavishly, while the lower class was huge and could barely get by. Unequal distribution of wealth led many to respond, labor unions formed because Americans…

    • 1168 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Twain called the late 19th century the “Gilded Age.” This was a time of greed and guile, with robber barons making a fortune off of the backs of their workers, corporation making shady business deals and having shadier business practices (DH). Many groups during this time suffered. Two groups that faced major difficulties and problems are labor Union members and African-Americans. Labor Union members faced many difficulties during the Gilded Age. Labor Union members literally had to fight…

    • 500 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    birth of freedom during different time periods throughout history. The new freedoms that America had given birth to were the freedom of expression, the freedom of not being oppressed, free enterprise and equality. Although there were some hiccups and setbacks, America pushed through the symbol of freedom and equality in the world and American continues to represent those freedoms. The Gilded Age was an era of rapid economic growth in America. Mark Twain coined the name Gilded Age meaning that the…

    • 721 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Immigration During the Gilded Age Immigrants during the Gilded Age faced discrimination and horrible treatment socially, economically and politically. Immigrants were shunned by the public because of nativists, unfair laws and the refusal of jobs. The immigrants were a large part of the factory work force, were a key component in the Transcontinental Railroad and made America into the super power that it is today. Immigrants influenced politics in powerful ways. Immigrants were unfairly treated…

    • 433 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Best Essays

    Adam EL-Maadawy Hst.245/4489 Russ Morisi 3/16/11/Midterm How effective was the political system of the gilded age and in what ways did progressivism include both democratic and anti democratic impulses? During the Gilded Age there came a time of economic stability and expansion that brought the country a surplus of wealth. What made this happen was the Second Industrial Revolution that came about post-civil war time, with the building of railroads and being able to transport raw materials…

    • 1235 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Best Essays
  • Good Essays

    Challenges During the Gilded Age There were many groups of people who faced challenges and struggled in America during the Gilded Age. Immigrants, African Americans, and factory workers were all groups of people that struggled in many ways during this time period. Some of these groups struggles were similar, but some were different. One group that faced many struggles compared to others were immigrants. When immigrants first arrived in the United States they would be sent to Ellis Island to become…

    • 444 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Unit 5 Take Home Essay 1. a. What were the causes of urbanization during the Gilded Age? b. What consequences did this urban revolution have on politics, the economy, and society? The Gilded Age saw rise of monopolies that was also called trusts. This was…

    • 173 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays