"Mulberry Bend" shows Mulberry Street looking north to Bayard Street. (From Jacob A. Riis's "How the Other Half Lives.")

“Mulberry Bend” shows Mulberry Street looking north to Bayard Street. (From Jacob A. Riis’s “How the Other Half Lives.”)

Watching people enjoy mah-jongg in Chinatown’s Columbus Park, it’s hard to imagine the site was a dangerous, decrepit slum in the late 1800s. Photojournalist and social reformer Jacob A. Riis dedicated a chapter in his 1890 book How the Other Half Lives to the squalid conditions in the area then known as Mulberry Bend.

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