Riis How The Other Half Lives Analysis

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The Depth of Human Greed What are you going to do about it? This is the question raised by Jacob Riis in his publication of How the Other Half lives. He demonstrates the evils of a society preying on the tolerance and misfortune of poor immigrants. Riis discusses the poor lifestyle of immigrants who “lived” in the “tenements” in New York. Tenements which were smaller than the graves of the dead. He wanted to highlight the struggles of the tenants; the sanitation problem, the poor condition of children and women, and the small rooms. These were not houses; they were indeed the worst punishment for the silence of these poor people. Riis spoke for these silent poor immigrant societies which could not protect themselves from the landlords who were driven with greed. Riis wanted not just recognition of the poor societies; he wanted reform to fix their conditions. Tenements used to beautiful and comfortable single-family dwellings in New York along the East River. “The first tenement New York knew …was the ‘rear house’ ..tenant houses before were not build for the purpose… of their harboring…show more content…
The fear of “advancing cholera” pushed the city to take action. The city passed laws to clean up the tenements however the laws only provided temporary relief. The “Tenement-House Act” was the first law passed to fix the tenement problem. The “dark bedrooms” were banned. Forty-six thousand windows were ordered to be cut for ventilation. It took the city five years to “outcast” the “cave dwellers” and it even closed about fifty “cellars” which were under “tide-water.” It is shocking the police and the workers had to drag the tenants out to proceed their work on the tenements. Tenants were so blind in their misery that they considered the “official interference an infringement of their rights.” The truth was the poor people were so hard working and tired; they did not have time to think about their environment or their

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