The boom in New York's population from the mid-1800s led to the rise of tenement housing in lower Manhattan. Tenements were low-rise buildings containing many apartments, which were narrow and usually made up of three rooms.
Because rents were low, tenement housing was a common choice for new immigrants to New York City. It was common for a family of 10 to live in a 325-square-foot (30-sq-m) apartment. Buildings often cover 90% of a standard 25-by-100-foot lot, with only front and rear windows and ventilation.
These photographs were taken by Jacob Rees, a Danish expatriate who settled in New York in 1870. His photographs of the poor life of New York immigrants made him the most famous photographer of his day and he was credited with bringing reform, which offered some hope. The poorest residents of the booming city.