Jacob Riis was a Danish-American social reformer who documented the harsh living conditions of the poor in New York City at the end of the 1800s.

He used his photographs and writing to show the world how bad things were for many people, and to argue for change.

For example, he showed how people lived in incredibly crowded and unsanitary conditions, without enough food or decent places to sleep.

His work helped lead to important reforms that improved the lives of millions of people.

You will find below a curated collection of the best ‘Jacob Riis’ quotes that you can read and share with others.


Best Jacob Riis Quotes

The more I live, the more I think that humor is the saving sense. ~ Jacob August Riis.

He may have been a trifle wild. ~ Jacob Riis.

In self-defence, you know, all life eventually accommodates itself to its environment, and human life is no exception. ~ Jacob Riis.

Some defeats are only installments to victory. ~ Jacob August Riis.

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The slum is the measure of civilization. ~ Jacob August Riis.

Men have a trick of coming up to what is expected of them, good or bad. ~ Jacob August Riis.

When nothing seems to help, I go and 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 last blow that did it, but all that had gone before. ~ Jacob A. Riis.

Famous Jacob Riis Quotes

When nothing seems to help, I go and 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.

Out of forty-eight boys twenty had never seen the Brooklyn Bridge that was scarcely five minutes’ walk away, three only had been in Central Park, fifteen had known the joy of a ride in a horse-car. The street, with its ash-barrels and its dirt, the river that runs foul with mud, are their domain. ~ Jacob A. Riis.

Did not the manager of the Fresh Air Fund write to the pastor of an Italian Church only last year{9} that “no one asked for Italian children,” and hence he could not send any to the country? ~ Jacob A. Riis.

Look at a stone cutter 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 the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before. ~ Jacob August Riis.

I’d look at one of my stonecutters hammering away at the rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet, at the hundred and first blow it would split in two, and I knew it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before. ~ Jacob August Riis.

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Oh, God! That bread should be so dear, And flesh and blood so cheap! ~ Jacob Riis.

Long ago it was said that “one half of the world does not know how the other half lives.” That was true then. It did not know because it did not care. The half that was on top cared little for the struggles, and less for the fate of those who were underneath, so long as it was able to hold them there and keep its own seat. There came a time when the discomfort and consequent upheavals so violent, that it was no longer an easy thing to do, and then the upper half fell to inquiring what was the matter. Information on the subject has been accumulating rapidly since, and the whole world has had its hands full answering for its old ignorance. ~ Jacob A. Riis.

It is through the Boys’ Club that the street is hardest hit. In the fight for the lad, it is the Club which knocks out the ‘gang,’ using the weapon of organization. ~ Jacob August Riis.

Top Jacob Riis Quotes

He used his photographs to show the government and the public how bad the living conditions were for many people, and he campaigned for better living conditions for all people.

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 the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before. ~ Jacob August Riis.

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. ~ Jacob August Riis.

When nothing seems to help, I go back and look at the 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.

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The world forgets easily, too easily, what it does not like to remember. ~ Jacob A. Riis.

How shall the love of God be understood by those who have been nurtured in sight only of the greed of man? ~ Jacob A. Riis.


So these were the 21 top quotes about Jacob Riis.

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If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Bobby Seale quotes and Mary Engelbreit quotes.

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About Jacob Riis

Born in 1849, Jacob Riis was one of the most famous journalists and social reformers of the late 19th century.

He is best known for his photographs documenting the squalid living conditions of poor immigrants in New York City, which helped to spur the Progressive Era reform movement.

Riis also wrote several influential books on social welfare and urbanization, and was a vigorous advocate for better housing and working conditions for the poor.