[a landmark work] Studies among the Tenements of New York. With Illustrations chiefly from Photographs taken by the Author. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1890. Original pictorial paper-covered boards with dark blue cloth spine.
First Edition of this landmark work. Born in Denmark in 1849, Riis emigrated to New York at the age of 21; there for the first few years he went from job to job, gaining a first-hand insight into the seamier side of life in the slums. But it was in 1873, when he got a newspaper job as a police reporter and photographer, that he embarked upon what would become his life's work: he declared war on tenement conditions, child labor and other abuses of lower-class urban life. Utilizing the new photographic technique of the flash "bulb," Riis was able to capture indoor scenes of the slums (as in this book), adding an even more grim picture to the story he was telling.~Ultimately his lone battle was joined by Theodore Roosevelt, who, as head of the city police board, New York governor, and U.S. President, gave him great support. Most of Riis's writing, including this his best-known book, centers around New York's Lower East Side and "Hell's Kitchen."~This is a landmark book not only in social reform but also in photojournalism: it constitutes the first extensive use of half-tone illustrations in a book, and also it uses those grim images to present the reader with irrefutable evidence of the conditions the reader might otherwise prefer to ignore. HOW THE OTHER HALF LIVES includes, in addition to many of Riis's photographs, an appendix of "Statistics bearing upon the Tenement Problem" -- such as population density, immigration, arrests and deaths.~This copy is in the primary binding of paper-covered boards (later copies were in light blue-grey cloth). Its condition is near-fine -- which is remarkable for a book printed on heavy leaves (to enable the printing of photographs) yet bound in a fragile paper-covered board binding. There is minor rubbing at the spine ends and, as always, there is a little browning both around the edges of the covers and, inside, on the two leaves surrounding the frontispiece tissue guard. It is tough to find this book in any better condition. Item #14189