How the Other Half Lives


Poverty Gappers Playing Coney Island

The Photo series: How the Other Half Lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York (1890), by Jacob Riis depicts how the lower class lived in New York City, and is a commentary on the class gap between the über wealthy an über poor. I chose the photo above for a few reasons. The first reason is that Riis is clearly using his audiences empathy by having the subject of the picture be an unhappy child. It can sometimes be too easy to see someone struggling and just ignore it, but when it is a child in question often people care more. The other detail that stood out to me was the ground. There is no grass to be seen; it is completely dirt. For some reason this highlights the squalor that some people were living in. The title of the photograph includes the word “playing”, but from the faces on the children, dirty ground, and wheelbarrows being the main toy it seems like a very distant version of “playing” than the audience would envision. 


Riis, Jacob A. How the other half lives: studies among the tenements of New York. New York: Dover, 1971. Print.

Poverty Gappers Playing Coney Island



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *