Jacob Riis, editor, author, journalist, reformer, and photographer extraordinary of lower East Side life, was born in Ribe, Denmark, in 1849, the son of a teacher in the Ribe Latin School, which Riis attended from 1858 to 1864. His father wanted him to embark on a literary career, but Jacob decided to take up carpentry instead. He landed in New York during a time of widespread unemployment, and finding no work there travelled to Pittsburgh, where he built huts for miners and for a while tried his hand at mining himself. Riis then returned to New York and notified the Danish Consul that in the event of war he wished to be returned to Denmark to fight. Riis returned to America and invested his money in a stereopticon business and travelled about the country using it for advertising purposes. Riis was appointed by Mayor Strong of New York City as Secretary of the Small Parks Committee.