Jacob Riis was born in Denmark in 1849, but he became one of the most celebrated American photographers of all time. His starkly beautiful photographs of life in the squalid tenements of New York City, exposed a new world to the upper and middle classes. Even wealthy New Yorkers, who lived just a few blocks away, had no idea about the conditions in their own backyard. It was one thing to drive past the tenements, but Riis took them inside.
Sometime soon, I want to share more of the work Riis did but since spring is in the air, I thought this outdoor photo was more appropriate. The photo captured a moment in time in the year 1900, on Mulberry Street in New York City. Take a good look at the first photo and then be sure to scroll down – the colored photochrom version is incredible! Photochrom is a process that can produce color images from black & white negatives.
I do like black & white images for their own sake, but in this instance, there’s no comparison. The color brings the whole thing to life! You can almost hear the noise and feel the crowd around you.
Note: Riis’ photograph, taken around the same time of his picture of Mulberry Street, is at the top of this post.