By William Benson

Housing costs


In 1890, a young Danish immigrant named Jacob Riis published his book, How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York. He began his introduction, “Long ago it was said that ‘One half of the world does not know how the other half lives.’ That was true then. It did not know because it did not care.” Riis went where few other investigative reporters would dare to go.

He visited the Italian ghettoes, Chinatown, the Jewish sweat shops, the Bohemian slums, and the black neighborhoods. In each, the tenements’ owners told their agents to “‘Collect the rent in advanc...

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