How the Other Half Lives

Topics: Apartment, Renting, Poverty Pages: 3 (1186 words) Published: April 30, 2009
Living conditions for many people back in the late 19th was depressing and an era filled with intensely hard and laborious work that did not offer any future for the average person. In “How the Other Half Lives”, Jacob Riis tried to expose and clarify of how harsh the living conditions for many people in New York, such as terrible overcrowding and terrible living conditions in tenement houses that many faced, the hardship of the working girls, and the effects that immigration has had on New York. The immigrants arriving in America during the 19th century mostly came from Germany and Ireland then later from Italy, China, and Eastern Europe. In just under thirty-five years, the city that had less than a hundred thousand people boasted a population of at least a half a million individuals, in which housing was limited. Most immigrants were poor when they arrived to New York; they frequently lived on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where they can able to find crowded apartment buildings, called tenements, for a very low price. Old houses suddenly become valuable. Big rooms were divided up into several smaller rooms, without regard to light or ventilation. The tenements were not cared by the proprietors, unless the tenants really care and do something about it, but they seem not to care either so the proprietors used the advantage of the filthy habits of the tenants as an excuse to walk away from the condition of their property. Old buildings were frequently built up to a great height, without regarded the strength of the building foundations. The only thing that proprietors are after is the rent from those misfortunate tenants. From there, overcrowding increased which led to an increased in morality rate of the tenants. The tenement-house population had greatly shrunk to half a million people by that time. Suffocation in the contaminated air is the main caused of the death of many children in tenement due to the not ventilated apartment. Immigration can be looked...

References: Jacob Riis, “How the Other Half Lives”
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