Basement of a Pub in Mulberry-Bend at 3:00 am by Jacob Riis (c. 1890)

The photograph titled “Basement of a Pub in Mulberry-Bend at 3:00 am” was captured by Jacob Riis around the year 1890. It depicts a scene from the basement of a pub located in the Mulberry Bend area, taken in the early hours of the morning.

In the photograph, we see a dimly lit, cramped basement space. The ceiling appears low and the room is congested with wooden furniture that includes tables and chairs, some overturned, signaling a disarray. Multiple individuals are within the frame, engaging with each other or in their own thoughts. The lighting is harsh and concentrated, likely from a flash, casting strong shadows and highlighting the textures of the wooden ceiling and the patrons’ clothing. There is a sense of weariness in the posture of the figures. Details are hard to discern due to the quality of the photo and challenged lighting conditions, but the overall atmosphere is one of a gritty, late-night gathering spot. The image is a historical document, evoking the living conditions and social environments of its time.

Other Photographs from Jacob Riis

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