This site documents how the "other half" lives via the social reform photography of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine.
"During the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era, photography was increasingly used as a method of documentation. The photographer's audience became the mass readership of newspapers, magazines, and books. Line drawings made from photographs, and later, halftone photography, enabled people to see as well as read about the world around them.
The media became a buffer between the wealthy and the working class, framing events so that middle-class and upper-class audiences could maintain their distance and choose their level of involvement in the issues at hand."