When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”
— Jacob Riis
Jacob August Riis (May 3, 1849 – May 26, 1914), a Danish-American muckraker journalist, police reporter, photographer, and social reformer, was born in Ribe, Denmark. He is known for his dedication to using his photographic and journalistic talents to help the less fortunate in New York City, which was the subject of most of his prolific writings and photographic essays. As one of the first photographers to use flash, he is considered a pioneer in photography.
Theodore Roosevelt was so deeply moved by Riis’s sense of justice that he met Riis and befriended him for life, calling him “the best American I ever knew.” Theodore Roosevelt was New York Commissioner of Police when he closed police-run poor houses after being moved by the photographic essays of Jacob Riis.