The journalist Jacob Riis brought important attention to the urban poor, but the reactions he inspired were not always helpful, says a recent book

The Poor Side of Town: And Why We Need It, by Howard Husock (Encounter Books, 216 pp., $26.99)

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE I n 1890, a Danish-born New York newspaper reporter captured the nation’s attention. In gripping prose, Jacob Riis offered a cascade of horrible descriptions, supported by his own striking photographs, illustrating conditions in the dense and squalid tenements of Lower Manhattan. His exposé, How the Other Half Lives, was an early case of what would come to be called photojournalism. It was also an instant landmark. How the Other Half Lives introduced a wide audience to the perils of poverty at the margins of


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