eglantine_br (eglantine_br) wrote,

In Rockaway Beach there is a park named for Jacob Riis. It is a largish untidy bit of open land near the water. It is lovely. You can read about it here:

We have often gone there swimming and to take Hazel to run. It is, as advertised, also easy to take the train to get to. And it costs noting to get in.

Jacob Riis was a typical reformer of the turn of the last century. He documented the lives of poor NYC immigrants. He was a contemp with Teddy Roosevelt. Some of his photos are very famous and you see them everywhere. This is the biggest collection I have ever seen. The stark static black and white serves very well I think. It allows the eye to see without distraction, like an anatomy drawing.  And it hurts.

These are mostly the streets of the lower east side. I have walked and driven on these streets many times. NYC is now one of the safest cities in the world. There is still poverty, but it is not an open weeping sore, like this.

What is amazing to me is how many of the people in the pictures are working.
Paper flowers, sewing, newspapers. These were the better lives that they came here to find.
Tags: other writing, real life
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