The Museum of the City of New York currently has an fantastic exhibit on a subject that every New Yorker should be aware of -- the plight of the poor in our city at the turn of the century.
The exhibit centers on the ground-breaking work by Jacob Riis, a pioneering newspaper reporter and social reformer in New York at the turn of the 20th century. He published HOW THE OTHER HALF LIVES, a forerunner in the genre of photojournalism. Considered one of the great works of American photojournalism, the book chronicled, in both vignettes and photographs, the brutal life in New York City's largest slum. The exhibit at the museum, Jacob A. Riis: Revealing New York’s Other Half, features photographs by Riis and his contemporaries, as well as his handwritten journals and personal correspondence.
If you love photography, the museum's online gallery of over 1,200 images that Riis took documenting every aspect of the lives of the poor and the effects of poverty on housing, education, and crime in New York at the turn of the 20th century.
FYI: The Museum is technically free -- it "suggests" an admission price ($14!). Be a sport and give a few bucks.