Reporter of Mulberry Bend
Riis's adaptability and curiosity made him a good
reporter. His reporting jobs also gave him an opportunity
to become more familiar with New York society.
In 1874 Riis accepted a position
at a small weekly newspaper, the South Brooklyn
News. During his stint with the newspaper, he
wrote articles about New York's corrupt politicians.
In his next job as a police reporter
for the New York Tribune, Riis wrote about
social and economic conditions in New York City's
Lower East Side.
Riis set up an office in Mulberry
Bend, a tenement neighborhood across from police
headquarters. Each day he traveled through the neighborhood,
witnessing firsthand the cramped, dirty quarters
and inadequate sanitation.
The stories Riis wrote emphasized
the humanity of the tenement population. While his
commentary was often harsh, his ultimate goal was
to depict the poor as a group capable of responding
favorably to reform efforts. An emerging theme of
his writings was that the poor were not immoral by
nature, but, rather, were products of the environment
in which they lived.
Mulberry Bend, New York