Every immigrant has to start at the base. During the 19th century many immigrants from across the world came to the United States to improve their living. Little did they know that it was not going to be as easy as they thought? Many had to start off by learning the language. It was easy for some but difficult for others. When it came down to finding a place to lodge everything was out of their budget and the only thing affordable was the tenant housing. Real estate agents or boarding house keepers built tenant housings. Tenant housings consisted of a house with their original rooms and later those rooms were divided to make even smaller rooms. This all began when George Washington moved out of his home in Cherry Hill. The older residents began to follow but they left for their own reasons and to diverse places, which then brought the housing to real-estate agent where they would then convert the rooms into multiple smaller rooms in which they would rent out to the poor. The poor were mainly the immigrants that were just starting off. That is how the real-estate agents and boarding house keepers became rich. They would rent one room out in which multiple families lived in all at once. The rent was raised in order to cover “damages” because the poor people were looked as filthy and destructive.
Jacob Riis became a police reporter for New York Evening Sun who reported crime in the rural areas of New York. Before that he was a part of those people that lived in tenant housing, where multiple families lived in one tiny room in which the conditions were not suitable for any human to live in. The tenant housing were dirty and disorganized, there was no ventilation or proper sewage, which would later cause a spread of disease like cholera. Riis despised living there and the living conditions in which many other people like him had to live in even after he became a reporter. The epidemics created many deaths in the tenement housing most of them consisted of children under the age of 5 whose immune systems were very delicate and poor. The one racial group that was able to resist the illnesses was the Jewish. Since back in Europe they were exposed to very similar condition their immune systems were able to handle what was around them. Almost half of the tenements in the area were wiped out within a few years. In one year there were multiple children in a single household that passed away. There was nothing positive about living in such a tight filthy space. It seemed that even if you were to move to a different house the conditions were the same. He reported to show people the other side of the tenant housing, the health department was able to see the living conditions and questioned it but were told that the reason the house/ rooms were like that was because of the occupants. The police had some help with overthrowing tenements by the removal of tenants throughout late night searches. Numerous suggestions were made by the Health Department, including the expulsion of rear tenement housing. A more effective idea was a housekeeper assigned to tenement housing with ten or more families in the living quarters. More restrictions were made to keep people safer from the bad living conditions. Although some legal actions were occurring at that time, development of businesses was the main cause in the downturn of the poorest housing. Industries were the some of the utmost prosperous anticipatory measure against the extension of slums and funded towards a stable decline by shredding down tenements or altering the buildings.
Riis is known to be one of the fathers of modern photojournalism. Riis would document the crimes in which he would respond to with a camera. Some of the crimes being unbearable such as a young couple whom took poison so they could be free of the desolation. There was many more case such like the one of many families who were left homeless after a fire broke out and the tenant was