Bandit’s Roost, by Jacob Riis

The photograph “Bandit’s Roost” was captured by Jacob Riis, a notable social reformer and photographer. Although the photograph year is not explicitly listed in your details, Riis was active during the late 19th and early 20th century, and “Bandit’s Roost” is one of his most famous works, taken at 59 1/2 Mulberry Street, which was known to be a notorious slum area in New York City at the time.

The photograph depicts a narrow alleyway flanked by tenement buildings. The scene is crowded with several individuals who appear to be residents of this impoverished neighborhood. Hanging laundry can be seen strung across the alley, suggesting the close quarters in which these individuals lived. On the left, a group of men is gathered on the steps and landing of a building, with some seated and others standing, sporting hats and waistcoats that were typical of that era. In the foreground, a figure with a top hat dominates the right side of the frame, with another figure standing across him wielding a cane. The image has a somber and gritty feel, capturing the harsh realities of life in the slums during the period.

Other Photographs from Jacob Riis

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