His most enduring legacy remains the written descriptions, photographs, and analysis of the conditions in which the majority of New Yorkers lived in the late nineteenth century. He is credited with starting the muckraker journalist movement.
But he also significantly helped improve the lives of millions of poor immigrants through his and others efforts on social reform.
“Strongly influenced by the work of the settlement house pioneers in New York, Riis collaborated with the King’s Daughters, an organization of Episcopalian church women, to establish the King’s Daughters Settlement House in 1890. Originally housed on 48 Henry Street in the Lower East Side, the settlement house offered sewing classes, mothers clubs, health care, summer camp and a penny provident bank. In 1901, the organization was renamed the Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement House (Riis Settlement) in honor of its founder and broadened the scope of activities to include athletics, citizenship classes, and drama.”
Today, well over a century later, the themes of immigration, poverty, education and equality are just as relevant. We feel that it is important to face these topics in order to encourage thinking and discussion..