Blind Beggar by Jacob Riis (c. 1890)

The photograph titled “Blind Beggar” was taken by Jacob Riis around the year 1890. It depicts a scene of urban life from that era, focusing on a singular figure who appears to be a visually impaired individual soliciting aid on the street.

In the photograph, the supposed blind beggar stands in the center, wearing a long dark overcoat and a hat. His face is turned upwards slightly, and his eyes are either closed or directed away from the camera, which could be indicative of his blindness. He is holding what seems to be a small box or tray containing pencils, suggesting that he is selling these in exchange for donations. The setting is a street with cobblestones, and the background features buildings with signs, one of which advertises “Plate Glass” and “Looking Glasses.” To the right, there’s a horse-drawn cart standing in the street, which adds to the historical context of the scene, indicative of the modes of transport of the time. The overall tone of the image suggests the harsh realities of the urban poor during the late 19th century.

Other Photographs from Jacob Riis

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