TENEMENT by Raymond Bial

TENEMENT

Immigrant Life on the Lower East Side
by , photographed by
Age Range: 11 - 13

KIRKUS REVIEW

Photographer/historian Bial (Ghost Towns of the American West, 2001, etc.) sets his sights on New York City’s Lower East Side, which during the decades around the turn of the 20th Century became a contender for the most densely populated area on Earth. Mixing his own color photos of apartment building facades, narrow hallways, and tiny rooms—most of the last are restored museum exhibits—with more effective old black-and-white shots of teeming streets, ragamuffin children posing in alleyways, and crowded sweatshops, he conveys a visual sense of the area’s former (if not its present) bustle and squalor. This is more than just a photo album, however; quoting Jacob Riis and other reformers, Bial also presents a substantial historical overview, taking aim at the unsanitary living conditions, the economic oppression (“These immigrants received just $3.75 for every thousand cigars, and, working as hard as possible, an entire family could roll only about three thousand cigars a week”), and the periodic waves of anti-immigrant feeling residents were forced to endure. Though he writes in generalities, and sometimes repetitively, his picture is a clearer one, especially for non–New Yorkers, than Granfield’s more specific but patchwork 97 Orchard Street (2001). (bibliography, Web sites) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 26th, 2002
ISBN: 0-618-13849-8
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2002




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