With the publication in 1890 of How the Other Half Lives, Jacob A. Riffs first opened the eyes of many New Yorkers to the frightful living conditions of the immigrant and working-class poor in the city’s tenement slums. Within a short time other civic-minded men and women joined him in an effort to improve the housing of the poor, and a minor victory was achieved in 1894, when the New York State legislature authorized the appointment of a commission to investigate Gotham’s tenements and recommend corrective legislation. Under the chairmanship of Richard Watson Gilder, the frail composer of genteel verse and editor of the Century Magazine, this commission explored every phase of tenement life, and its 600-page report, transmitted to the legislature in January, 1895, represented the most thorough study that had ever been made of New York’s tenements 1 The committee’s recommendations received widespread public support and many were enacted into law; for a time the tenement house problem became front-page news. 2