4. Lower East Side
Photo circa 1890 by Jacob A. Riis, Museum of the City of New York Collection
Riis’ reform initiatives extended beyond housing to topics like crime and social ills. This photograph of the Short Tail Gang is taken at under the pier at Corlears Hook, an area that has since been infilled and renamed Corlears Hook Park. The Bowery Boys describes the Short Tail gang as a “particularly nasty gang of criminals who terrorized the Lower East Side” with a particular penchant for beer. This photograph by Riis (the uncropped original shows even more mugs) captures the extent of the gang’s beer obsession, fueled and financed by many of their violent crimes along the waterfront.