This book played an important role in highlighting the issues that it did creating greater awareness of the terrible conditions in which many of the tenants live and the social responsibility of working to improve these conditions.
Although the tenements are no longer an issue for New York the issue of poverty still remains a painful and poignant problem. The very title of the book reminds us that the developed world cannot turn its back on what the rest of the world faces. Recent world events have brought this painfully to our attention. The point that Jacob Riis makes is still relevant today and as he says.
‘The gap between the classes in which it surges, unseen, unsuspected by the thoughtless, is widening day by day……… Against all other dangers our system of government may offer defence and shelter; against this not. I know of but one bridge that will carry us over safe, a bridge founded upon justice and built of human hearts’. (Riis A Jacob ‘How the Other Half Lives-Studies Among the Tenements of New York’ )
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