Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hating it rain.

Hating it rain is one of our more popular features here at making it rain. Today we are profiling turn of the century muckaraker Jacob Riis. Jacob Riis is, as far as I am concerned, an asshole.


Now I realize that is a very strong statement to make, I do. It may, in one's opinion, in fact be sacrilege to those who have recently immigrated to America who have him to thank for the fact that they don't live in absolute squander. His books and photo essay's including "how the other half lives" paved the way for social change in America. He was not all good though. Thankfully, I am here to tell you how it really went down.


Jacob Riis came to America at the age of 21 in the year of 1870. He arrived in America with other large groups of immigrants who flooded urban areas in the years following the Civil War seeking prosperity in the more industrialized environment of the United States. There was seriously like 25 million people all moving to urban centers in America trying to get paid.


But no, these poor immigrants were not to get paid! ahahahahahhaha. In fact the demographics of American urban centers grew so huge that the more the immigrants arrived the more problems arose due to even the largest cities in the United States not having enough space to house them. So, Riis found himself just another poor immigrant in New York. Now I am quoting his wikipedia page here so I can only hope that this is true, "His only companion was a stray dog he met shortly after his arrival. The dog brought him inspiration and when a police officer mercilessly beat it to death, Riis was devastated. One of his personal victories, he later confessed, was not using his eventual fame to ruin the career of the offending officer. Riis spent most of his nights in police-run poor houses, whose conditions were so ghastly that Riis dedicated himself to having them shut down."


So what I have gathered here is that Jacob Riis, who lived in , albiet slummy, police housing when he first arrived in america claims that he didn't want to pay the police department back. Well, well, well. I hate to break it to you Jacob but guess what? When you closed down all of those police shanty towns you did ruin the said police officers life. He no longer had a job. I even heard that he killed himself and his entire family because he was so insecure in the fact that he was unable to pay for his family to eat or to pay the bills . This fate may have been avoided had there been low rent housing made available by the police, but no, that wasn't the case anymore. Thanks a lot Mr. Riis.



1 comment:

Talkin_Proud said...

Motherf___ing muckraker. I guess during his era it was no longer fashionable to turn gruesome lewdness into children's stories ala Grimm's Fairy tales and Alice In Wonderland.

How easily Riis could have named his book "Where The Wild Things Are" instead of "How The Other Half Lives." His photos could have been the backstory to Max's terrifying journey through hell/New York City (same difference) replete with a happy ending as King Roosevelt decrees that the slums are to be abolished.

But no, he had to go make it rain on some working mans parade. I hope that Riis at least donated something to the poor whos backs he earned upon.