One of Four Pedlars Who Slept in the Cellar of 11 Ludlow Street Rear by Jacob Riis (c. 1892)

The photograph titled “One of Four Pedlars Who Slept in the Cellar of 11 Ludlow Street Rear” was taken by Jacob Riis around the year 1892. The image captures the grim living conditions of an individual in the late 19th century in a New York City tenement.

In the photograph, we see a man resting or sleeping on top of what appear to be wooden barrels. His body is positioned awkwardly, with one leg hanging down towards the floor and the other resting up on a platform. The man’s facial expression looks fatigued or perhaps resigned, as he gazes toward the camera. He is wearing a dark jacket, vest, and lighter-colored pants with a pattern, which are visibly worn and dirty. In the dimly lit cellar environment, the surroundings are rough and seem to be scarcely furnished, with litter scattered on the floor. The background features a wooden pillar and what appears to be a partially open doorway with light coming through, suggesting an exit or entrance to another area. The overall scene conveys a strong sense of poverty and the harsh living conditions faced by many during that period, which Riis documented in his work to expose and advocate for social reform.

Other Photographs from Jacob Riis

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