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The Progressive Era; Best Muckraker Award

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The Progressive Era; Best Muckraker Award

Jacob Riis was born in Ribe, Denmark in 1849. He immigrated to New York in 1870. He had many jobs but the best one, that helped him create his book, was being a police reporter. Riis was even homeless himself, so this might have been what inspired him to photograph the pictures and create the book “How The Other Half Lives”. Jacob Riis should win the Muckraker award because he drew a great amount of attention to the poverty issue in the United States. He used photography which wasn’t as popular in that time period. People were appalled by what they saw because they had never seen anything so outrageous before. These pictures made the upper class become thankful for what they have. The flash on the camera was just recently invented so he used this new technology in the tenements because they had very poor lighting. Riis even helped the president while he was police reporting. Teddy Roosevelt called him “the most useful citizen in New York”. Jacob Riis died on May 26, 1914, the cause of his death was unspecified.

Jacob Riis is perfectly fit for the Muckraker award. Riis went through many jobs until he found one as a police reporter. He worked in the really poor, and crime ridden areas of New York City. The places where he worked were normally where all of the poor immigrants lived, in the tenements. After a while, he started to bring a camera to the slummy areas where he worked, and photographed the terrible living conditions to document.  In the 1890’s the upper class, and some middle class citizens of America (mainly New York City) were very unaware of the dangerous, and terrible conditions that the lower class were facing while living in the slums of New York. Jacob Riis wanted to make sure that they became aware. Jacob Riis got his book “How The Other Half Lives” published to show the upper/middle class how the other half actually does live. After reading this, everyone was so shocked, and they even started to take action. People later started to clean the streets, and they passed a law that said that there had to be a certain amount of emergency exits in a room/building. Jacob Riis started the evolution of sanitation in the streets of New York. Therefore, Riis is highly qualified to win the Best Muckraker Award because of his ingenuity and determination to help raise awareness of the living conditions of the lower classes.



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