I have a soft spot for Jacob Riis photos: those that seem to startle basement drunks from their sleep and those that seem a little too artfully staged. Of the latter, the one above is my favorite. “Bandit’s Roost, 59 1/2 Mulberry Street” was shot by Riis or one of his associates in 1887. It aims to depict one of the most notorious parts of the neighborhood just north of the Five Points.
Of this address, and the infamous Mulberry Bend more generally, Riis wrote in his most famous book, How the Other Half Lives (1890):
Abuse is the normal condition of