New York Historical Society Acquires Annotated First Edition of Jacob Riis’ ‘How the Other Half Lives’

Posted on: January 23rd, 2014 at 11:20 am by
Annotated 'How the Other Half Lives, Photo: Rick Friedman, New York Times

Annotated ‘How the Other Half Lives, Photo: Rick Friedman, New York Times

The New York Historical Society recently acquired a photojournalistic gem; not only is it a first edition of Jacob Riis’ How The Other Half Lives, but it’s chock full of margin scribblings by the author. The notes are assumed to be musings for a possible 2nd edition; today, the annotations serve as unfiltered perceptions of how tenement life, slumlords, and culture clashes in New York City continued to impress upon Riis at the turn of the century.

Ted Gup recently wrote an op-ed for the New York Times on his love affair with, and acquisition of, this very first edition.

How the Other Half Lives continues to speak to us today and remains a primer on how to break through collective apathy and self-centeredness in pursuit of a common good… Its place is in New York City — in a museum or public library — where it might yet rouse others to take up the causes of conscience that stirred Riis and generations of muckrakers. It is a part of New York, the city of its conception.

Gup made good on his word; the next question is what’s in store for this prized possession, now that it has found its way into the care of the New York Historical Society? Surely an exhibit built around NYC muckrakers and progressivism in the late 1800s is not out of the question.

Street scene shot by Jacob Riis on the LES (1895), Photo: MCNY

Street scene shot by Jacob Riis on the LES (1895), Photo: MCNY

Recent Stories

Clayton Patterson Revisits the Pyramid Club with ‘Portraits’ Exhibit

The Pyramid Club of yesteryear is revived, albeit temporarily. Indeed, prolific photographer and activist Clayton Patterson is showcasing his documentation of an era rife with struggling artists immersed in a culturally diverse neighborhood at its peak of creativity. His photos of the scene are often considered a pioneering record of the evolution of drag in […]

CW Pencil Enterprise Reopens on Orchard Street this Friday

The so-called “purveyors of superior graphite” are readying their illustrious return to the Lower East Side. CW Pencil Enterprise just announced that the store will resume retail operations at the new Orchard Street digs this Friday. The change of scenery was owed to interior remodeling at its old Forsyth Street location. Renovations reportedly created a […]

‘Stranger Things’ Lights up Delancey Street

It’s T-minus ten days until Stranger Things returns for a second season. Last week, an intricate billboard of same appeared at the mouth of the Williamsburg Bridge on Delancey Street. Above the low-rise retail strip that houses Coco bubble tea and the endangered Happy Wok Chinese restaurant, among others. The advert includes profile cutouts of the […]

About that Bronx Zoo ‘Bootique’ on Allen Street

Allen Street has a new “Bootique” on its hands. Well, had. The Bronx Zoo spent the weekend promoting the month-long “Boo at the Zoo” Halloween festival with a pop-up experience at 91 Allen Street. The banner remains atop the textured marquee as a continuous advertisement. Temporarily at least. Boo at the Zoo runs through October […]

Construction Commences on 12-Story Luxury Rentals at Former Moscot HQ on Delancey Street

The northeast corner of Orchard and Delancey Streets is getting boxed in as we speak. Indeed, after many months of neglect – the fence itself was constantly falling down – construction is set to commence on a shiny 12-story luxury phallus. Plywood supports were installed yesterday afternoon around the sidewalk perimeter of the 86 Delancey […]