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Jacob Riis How The Other Half Lives Summary

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The 1890 book How the Other Half Lives by Jacob A. Riis, sought out to expose the horrific conditions that over one million immigrant workers and their families faced in the tenements of New York's East Side slum district. A citizen's movement prompted by the guilty consciouses of the middle class resulted in the creation of the Board Of Health, that passed the 1867 "Tenement House Act". The act mandated the cutting of 46,000 windows into interior rooms solely for ventilation purposes. These renovations were met with opposition from tenement owners as well as by tenants.In many accounts tenants had to be physically dragged out from cellar apartments by police officials. In spite of the Tenement House Act, many renovated buildings had no apparent improvements . New tenements that were constructed after the act still had floor plans that left rooms dark and dank and, over crowding was still permitted. The air inside the tenements were described as " ...fouler than …show more content…
An average tenement house would house roughly about 140 families . The large majority were Irish immigrants followed by the Italians and Germans. In addition to the Russian,Scandinavian, Jewish,French, African ,Spanish and Chinese immigrants that could be found scattered through out the East side in their own prospective parts of town.It was rare to find a native born person, Riis searched for a distinctly American community but couldn't find it. Each group managed to find to carve out a niche for themselves. The Italians cornered the produce markets with their fruit stands , while the Irish became bricklayers. The Irish man was described as the "true cosmopolitan immigrant" because he shared his lodgings with the Greeks ,Italians and Dutch ,but not willingly.Each group forcefully staked out a territory on the island .The Italians settled northward along Mulberry Street and the French on Bleecker and South Fifth

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