Riis, a Danish immigrant, photojournalist, police reporter and perhaps, most notably, a pioneer in the field of social reform presents the different accounts in a fascinating manner. This is primarily ascribable to the fact that he narrates the stories from an older immigrant’s perspective, infusing the experience with some level of identity and believability.
From the onset, Riis singles out standardization of living quarters and unregulated immigration, as the principal factors contributing toward overpopulation, overcrowding and deterioration of living standards in nineteenth century New York City. This is clearly a notion with which one can identify. given the rampant immigration that characterizes the contemporary American society and results in congestion of diverse environs. Just like is the case in present day America, majority of immigrants during Riis’s time escaped their home countries in search for a better life in America. For example, the Jewish people were escaping persecution in European countries, Africans were running away from strife in their continent, while the Irish were seeking a peaceful environment away from their war torn country. Majority of other immigrants simply sought the rags to riches American dream. However, as Riis indicates, majority of these new immigrants were forced to start their lives from ground up, with many becoming disoriented and staying right where they began.
Riis further takes note of the propensity of ethnic groups to stay together.