How the Other Half Lives


Jacob A. Riis

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How the Other Half Lives Characters

Jacob Riis

The narrator and protagonist of the book, Riis is a Danish immigrant himself—though we would never know that from simply reading How the Other Half Lives. Instead, although Riis faced similarly precarious conditions as… read analysis of Jacob Riis
Minor Characters
Inspector Byrnes
The Chief Inspector of New York’s police force, Inspector Byrnes is a regular source of information and anecdotes regarding the residents of New York’s tenements. Riis often either quotes him explicitly or refers to his knowledge.
Superintendent Murray
Another member of the police force whom Riis relies on for information.
Miss Ellen Collins
A philanthropist whose business strategy for buying, repairing, and maintaining model tenements Riis proposes as a sustainable model for reform.
Mr. A.T. White
A Brooklyn builder who has also been involved in tenement-house reform by constructing new tenements with decent living conditions.
Dr. Louis L. Seaman
A chief of staff at the hospitals of Blackwell’s Island, whom Riis cites regarding the difficult conditions of asylums for the poor.