Students on the Hamilton Program in New York City explored contrasting lifestyles of the eraly 1900s when they recently visited the Museum of the City of New York and the J.P. Morgan Library and Museum.
At the Museum of the City of New York, they took a tour of the Jacob Riis photography exhibit. Riis photographed the tenements and the life of Jewish immigrants at the turn of the century, and it was eye-opening to see pictures of the conditions immigrants lived in, especially as a supplement to the group’s reading of Quarantine (about the Typhus and Cholera epidemics in the lower east side) for class that week.
Later that afternoon, they toured the Morgan Library, which was a stark contrast to Riis’s photographs. During about the same time period that these Jewish immigrants were suffering from disease and unsanitary living conditions, J.P. Morgan was living further uptown in a lavish home filled with Renaissance era artwork, hundreds of beautiful books, and even his own library. A student observed, “Often we learn about two different groups of people in history in very disconnected ways, so it was interesting to see the two lifestyles so directly contrasted in the same day’s outing.”