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The Secrets Of The Great City by Edward Winslow Martin

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the result of the inquiry was the selection of the site known as
Central Park.


The Central Park, so called because it is situated almost in the centre
of the island, is a parallelogram, and lies between Fifth and Eighth
Avenues, and Fifty-ninth and One-hundred-and-tenth streets. It covers
an area of eight hundred and forty three acres, and is about two and a
half miles long by half a mile in width.

When the site was selected and the work commenced, the whole area, with
the exception of the Croton Reservoirs in the upper part, was a barren
waste. It was a succession of rocky elevations, stagnant pools, and
sandy plains. It was covered with a coarse undergrowth, which simply
disfigured it, and was occupied by the miserable shanties of a number
of Irish families, known as "squatters." By looking at the character of
the land surrounding it, the reader can easily form a correct idea of
the primitive character of the Park, and of the immense labor which has
been performed in transforming that barren waste into the magnificent
grounds of to-day.

As it was morally certain that the authorities of the city of New York
would not carry on the work as honestly and as promptly as was
desirable, the Legislature placed the management of affairs in the
hands of a Commission, composed of prominent citizens of all parties.
Under the auspices of this Commission, the work was begun in 1858, and
pushed forward as rapidly as possible, to its present state. These
Commissioners still have charge of it, and conduct its affairs with the
same skill and vigor which have accomplished so much in the past.

The Park now contains a parade ground of fifty acres, for the
manoeuvering of large bodies of troops, play grounds, base ball
grounds, rides, drives, walks, etc. There are nine miles of carriage
roads in it, four miles of bridle roads, and twenty-five miles of
walks. It is larger than any city park in the world, except the Bois de
Boulogne at Paris, the Prater at Vienna, and the Phenix Park at Dublin.
A rocky ridge, which traverses the whole island, passes through almost
the exact centre of the grounds; and has afforded a means of rendering
the scenery most beautiful and diversified. A part of the grounds form
a miniature Alpine region; another part is the perfection of water
scenery; and still another stretches away in one of the loveliest lawns
in the world. The soil will nurture almost any kind of tree, shrub, or
plant; and more than one hundred and sixty thousand trees and shrubs of
all kinds have been planted, and the work is still going on. Any of the
principal walks will conduct the visitor all over the grounds, and
afford him a fine view of the principal objects of interest.

All the entrances on Fifty-ninth street lead to the handsome marble
arch near the eastern side. Passing through this archway, and ascending
a broad flight of stairs, the visitor finds himself in the great mall,
which, beginning near the principal entrance on Fifth Avenue, leads to
the terrace, which is one of the chief attractions. The terrace is
handsomely constructed of a soft yellow stone, carved elaborately and
tastefully. Three broad flights of stairs, one on each side, and one
covered stairway in the centre, lead to the esplanade below, in which
is the main fountain, and at the end of which is the lake.


[Illustration: View in Central Park.]

To our mind, this is the chief attraction of the Park. It covers an
area of one hundred acres, and serves as one of the receiving
reservoirs of the city. It was formerly an unsightly swamp, but it
would be hard to find now a lovelier sheet of water than this. It is
spanned by several handsome bridges, and the scenery along its banks is
both beautiful and varied. Here the eye ranges over a low shore,
covered with a rich greensward, which stretches away far in the
distance; there a bold waterfall leaps over its rocky barrier, and
plunges into the lake from a height of fifty or sixty feet. On one hand
the banks rise up bold and rugged, with an air of sternness, and on the
other the ascent is gradual and beautiful. Row-boats are constantly
plying on the lake in the mild season, and in these the visitor can
enjoy, for a small sum, the pleasure of a row over the lake. No one can
properly appreciate the beauty and variety of the scenery of this
beautiful sheet of water, without taking this little voyage.

There is another and a smaller lake near the Fifth Avenue entrance. It
is near the wall on Fifty-ninth street, and lies down in a deep hollow,
formed by high, rocky sides, which give it a wild, mountainous


In fair weather the Park Commissioners cause free concerts to be given
on the mall every Saturday afternoon, by one of the best bands in the
city. The music is of a high character, and thousands flock there to
hear it. The Park is full of visitors on fine afternoons, and the boats
on the lake are crowded. The horses and equipages of the wealthier
classes form one of its greatest attractions on such occasions. They
come in great numbers. All the celebrities of the city, and many from
other parts of the world, are to be seen here, and the horses now
compare favorably with those of any other American city. Previous to
the opening of the Park, there were no drives around or in New York,
and the horse-flesh of the Metropolis was the laughing-stock of the
country. Now the case is different.

In the winter season, when the lake and ponds are frozen over, the
skating is the great attraction. Large sheds are erected at the
principal points, containing private apartments for the sexes,
restaurants, cloak-rooms, and places for warming and putting on or
removing skates. The ice is carefully examined, and the dangerous
localities are plainly marked. Every precaution is taken to prevent
accidents, and means of assistance are always at hand. When the ice is
in good condition, a large ball is hoisted on the Arsenal, and little
flags are fastened to the various street cars running to the Park. In
this way the news is soon scattered through the city, and crowds of
persons flock to the Park to enjoy the sport. The scene is both
brilliant and exhilarating. The Commissioners prepare a code of liberal
rules for the government of skaters, and place them at conspicuous
points. All persons going on the ice are required to comply with them,
on pain of exclusion from the sport.

Good sleighing is rare in the Metropolis, but when it is to be had, the
best is always in the Park.


This building is situated on Fifth Avenue, just within the Park
enclosure. It was originally used for the purpose designated by the
name it bears, but is now a free museum of natural history and art. It
contains the nucleus of the Zoological Garden, which is now in course
of construction near the centre of the Park, on the line of Eighth
Avenue, and though the collection of animals, birds, etc., is small, it
is very interesting. In the upper part of the building are the models
of the sculptor Crawford, presented to the city by his widow, and many
other interesting specimens of art.


These are located in the upper Park, and cover a considerable area.
From the hill on which they are situated, a fine view can be had of the
lower Park, stretching away in its beauty for over a mile. These
reservoirs receive the water direct from the aqueduct, which brings it
from Croton Lake, and pass it into the distributing reservoir on Forty-
second street.

The scenery of this part of the Park is wild and romantic. It is said
that "the deep gorge, called McGowan's Pass, dividing this northern
portion, is the valley which, by means of its darkly wooded hillsides,
sheltered the secret messengers passing between the scattered parties
of the American troops who, during the few days intervening between
their disheartening rout on Long Island and the battle of Harlem
Plains, rallied about the range of hills extending from Fort Washington
to Bloomingdale." A small part of the "Old Boston Road" is still to be
seen in this portion of the Park, and in the distance a view is
obtained of the High Bridge and Westchester county, while Washington
Heights rise beautifully to the northward. To the eastward we see the
white sails of the vessels in Long Island Sound, and get a faint
glimpse of the town of Flushing on Long Island, and New Rochelle on the


It was foreseen when the Park was laid off, that as it would extend for
so long a distance right through the centre of the island, it would be
necessary to provide means of communication between the eastern and
western sides of the island, without forcing persons to pass around the
upper or lower ends of the enclosure. At the same time it was felt to
be desirable to make these roads as private as possible, so that the
beauty of the Park should not be marred by them, or by the long trains
of wagons, carts, and such other vehicles as would pass over them. The
genius of the constructing engineers soon settled this difficulty. A
system of _transverse roads_ was adopted and carried out. There are
four of them, and they cross the Park at Sixty-fifth, Seventy-ninth,
Eighty-fifth, and Ninety-seventh streets. They are sunken considerably
below the general level of the Park, and are securely walled in with
masonry. Vines, trees and shrubbery are planted and carefully trained
along the edges of these walls, which conceal the roads from view. The
visitors, by means of archways or bridges, pass over these roads,
catching but a momentary glimpse of them in some places, and in utter
ignorance of them in others.


This, when completed, will be one of the principal attractions of the
Park. It is located between the Lake and Eighth Avenue, and work is now
going forward upon it to prepare it for the reception of the animals.
It is very rocky and wild, and has many natural advantages for the
purpose to which it is to be applied. It lies just outside of the main
enclosure, and will be connected with it by means of a tunnel under the


The original cost of the Park was nearly five millions of dollars. The
total cost to the present time has been nearly nine millions. About
half a million of dollars are annually spent in improvements and in
keeping the grounds in order.

The control of affairs is vested in a board of eight commissioners, but
the general administration is conducted by the Comptroller, Mr. Andrew
H. Green.

The discipline is very rigid. A force of special policemen, who may be
recognized by their gray uniforms, has been placed on duty in the Park,
with the same powers and duties as the Metropolitan Police. One of
these is always on duty at each gateway, to direct visitors and furnish
information, as well as to prevent vehicles from entering the grounds
at too rapid a rate. Others of the force are scattered through the
grounds at such convenient distances, that one of them is always within
call. None of the employes are allowed to ask or to receive pay for
their services. Their wages are liberal. When an article is found by
any of the employes of the Park, it is his duty to carry it to the
property clerk at the Arsenal, where it can be identified and recovered
by the rightful owner.

Improper conduct of all kinds is forbidden, and promptly checked.
Visitors are requested not to walk on the grass, except in those places
where the word _Common_ is posted; not to pick flowers, leaves, or
shrubs, or in any way deface the foliage; not to throw stones or other
missiles; not to scratch or deface the masonry or carving; and not harm
or feed the birds. No one is allowed to offer anything for sale within
the limits of the enclosure, without a special license from the
Commissioners. There are several hotels, or restaurants, in the
grounds. These are conducted in first-class style by persons of
responsibility and character. Private closets for men, which may be
distinguished by the sign, _"For Gentlemen only"_ are located at
convenient points throughout the Park, and cottages for ladies and
children are as numerous. These latter are in charge of a female
attendant, whose business it is to wait upon visitors, and care for
them in case of sudden illness, until medical aid can be procured.

Carriages for hire will be found at all the principal entrances to the
Park. The Commissioners have no control over these vehicles, and the
visitor must make his own bargain with the driver; a matter to which he
had better attend before entering the vehicle, for these Jehus know how
to drive a hard bargain.

The effect of this magnificent pleasure ground has been most salutary.
The thousands of poor persons in the great city have the means of
breathing the pure fresh air, and enjoying the beauties of nature, on
all their holiday occasions. The health of this part of the population
has improved very greatly, and the people of all classes have been
correspondingly benefited. Every inhabitant of the great city has an
especial pride in the Park, and, thanks to this feeling, the
Commissioners have little or no trouble in enforcing their regulations.
There have been no acts of rowdyism or lawlessness within the
enclosure, for even the most depraved feel themselves compelled to
respect the rules of the place. In a few years the streets facing the
walls will be occupied with magnificent residences and public
buildings, and the neighborhood will be the most delightful on the



New York stands at the head of all American cities in the excellence
and extent of its system of public education. It has one free college,
fifty-five ward or grammar schools, forty primary schools, and ten
colored schools. The ward schools are divided into three departments,
primary, male, and female, and the others into two, one for each sex.
The buildings are generally of brick, tastefully trimmed with freestone
or granite, and are amongst the handsomest in the city. They are
commodious, and in every respect equal to the demand upon them. The
rooms are large, airy, and neat. The building is well warmed and
ventilated, and every care is taken to render the teachers and pupils
as comfortable as possible. The number of teachers is between two
thousand five hundred and three thousand, and the number of children is
near three hundred thousand. A janitor resides in each building, and is
responsible for its cleanliness and healthfulness.

The course of study is most thorough. Pupils enter the primary classes,
and pass through the various grades of the primary and grammar schools,
until the course is finished. Then the college of the City of New York
is opened to all who desire to enter it, who have passed regularly and
honorably through the lower schools. In this institution all the
branches of a thorough and complete collegiate course are taught.
Horace Webster, L. L. D., is the president of the college, and the
faculty embraces some of the most learned men in the city. The
institution grants diplomas, confers degrees, and is entitled to and
exercises all the privileges of a first-class college.

The whole system is free to all the children of the city, whose parents
choose to avail themselves of it. Books and everything needed are
furnished without charge, and no pains are spared to render the course
as thorough and beneficial as possible. The pupil is put to no expense,
whatever, but is required to maintain habits of cleanliness and
neatness. The sexes are provided with separate apartments, and enter
the building by different doors. In some localities night schools are
provided, for those who cannot be present at the day sessions, and are
well attended. Many cash and errand boys and clerks, porters, drivers,
and others gladly avail themselves of this means of acquiring

The cost to the city of this magnificent system, is between two and a
half and three millions of dollars annually. It is a heavy tax upon the
municipal treasury, but it is gladly borne, for it saves the metropolis
from those hordes of idle, ignorant men and women which are the curse
of all great cities. The very poorest men or women can thus give to
their children the priceless boon of knowledge, of which their youth
was deprived. Profiting by the advantage thus acquired, these little
ones, in after years, may rise to fame and fortune. Thus not only the
metropolis but the whole country reaps the blessings of this
magnificent system of free education.

The best proof of its excellence lies in the fact that, a short time
since, a Committee, appointed by the authorities of the city of Boston,
for the purpose of inquiring into the public school systems of other
American cities, with a view to improving that of the "Hub," stated in
their report, that they regarded the system in practice in the city of
New York, as the best in the world, and recommended that the school
system of Boston be modeled upon the same plan.

Ample as are our means of diffusing knowledge, however, they must still
be increased. They must be made to reach those lower portions of
humanity, in behalf of which the Mission Schools of the great city are
doing such noble work. Not until this is done, will the system be



As we have said before, land for building purposes is very high and
scarce in New York. In consequence of this, dwellings rent here for
more than in other American cities. The laying off of the Central Park
was a decided benefit to the city and its inhabitants, but the blessing
had also its accompanying evil. It reduced the "house room" of the
island by eight hundred acres, which would have afforded comfortable
accommodations for seventy-two thousand persons, and naturally crowded
the lower quarters of the city to a still greater extent. A careful
estimate has been made by the Sanitary Association of New York, and
they report that with three fourths of the population there is an
average of six families to every house.

The poorer classes are to be met with in all parts of the city, but
they are most numerous along the East and North rivers, and between
Fourteenth and Canal streets. The majority of them are, beyond a doubt,
honest, and willing to work, and in times of great commercial activity
nearly all can find some means of employment; but in dull seasons, when
merchants and manufacturers are forced to discharge their employes,
thousands are thrown out of work, and the greatest suffering and
distress prevail in the poor districts. Besides these there are
thousands of vagrants, drunkards, and disreputable persons, who would
rather steal, or beg, than work, and whose misery is frightful.

We must not be understood as intimating that all who desire employment
can procure it in New York. Indeed the contrary is the case. Labor and
skill of almost every kind are in excess here. For every position of
regular labor there are at least five applicants, so that four fifths
of the poor have to resort to any and all means to maintain an honest
existence. Some of these means it is our purpose to notice separately.


You will see the extremes of poverty and want in and about the Five
Points district. In the day time half-clad, filthy, emaciated creatures
pass you on the gloomy streets, and startle you with the air of misery
which they carry about them. At night these poor creatures huddle into
cellars, so damp, foul, and pestilential that it seems impossible for a
human being to exist in them. The walls are lined with "bunks," or
"berths," and the woodwork and bedding is alive with vermin; the floors
are covered with wretched beds in a similar condition. The place is
either as dark as midnight, or dimly lighted with a tallow dip.
Sometimes a stove, which only helps to poison the atmosphere, is found
in the place, sometimes a pan of coals, and often there is no means of
warmth at hand. Men, women, and children crowd into these holes, as
many as thirty being found in some of them. They pay a small sum to the
wretch who acts as landlord, for the privilege of receiving this
shelter from the cold night. The sexes are mingled carelessly, and the
grossest indecency prevails. The air is loaded with blasphemy and
curses, and is heavy with such foul odors that one unaccustomed to it
cannot remain five minutes in the place.

The attics of the lowest class of tenement houses are no better than
these cellars. They are colder, and more exposed to the elements, but
the suffering in them is no greater.


The scarcity of land in the city has led to the construction of numbers
of buildings known as "Tenement Houses." These are large edifices,
containing many rooms and, often, as many families. They abound chiefly
in the Tenth, Eleventh, and Seventeenth Wards. The majority of persons
living in these houses are foreigners. "It is not to be inferred,
however, that it is poverty only that causes such dense settlement,
since a spirit of economy and frugality manifests itself among these
people, which forbids too much expenditure for the high rents charged,
or for much riding on the railroads." Still, whatever may be the causes
which lead persons to herd together in such buildings, the effect is
the same in all cases. The neighborhood becomes dirty and unhealthy,
and the buildings themselves perfect pest-houses. Some of them are neat
and tasteful in their exteriors, others are vile and filthy all over.

They are now generally built for this purpose. As pecuniary investments
they pay well, the rents sometimes yielding thirty-five per cent. on
the investment. The following description will convey a fair idea of
them to the reader. One of the houses stands on a lot with a front of
fifty feet, and a depth of two hundred and fifty feet. It has an alley
running the whole depth on each side of it. These alley-ways are
excavated to the depth of the cellars, arched over, and covered with
flag stones, in which, at intervals, are open gratings to give light
below; the whole length of which space is occupied by water closets,
without doors, and under which are open drains communicating with the
street sewers. The building is five stories high, and has a flat roof.
The only ventilation is by a window, which opens against a dead wall
eight feet distant, and to which rises the vapor from the vault below.
There is water on each floor, and gas pipes are laid through the
building, so that those who desire it can use gas. The building
contains one hundred and twenty-six families, or about seven hundred
inhabitants. Each family has a narrow sitting-room, which is used also
for working and eating, and a closet called a bed room. But few of the
rooms are properly ventilated. The sun never shines in at the windows,
and if the sky is overcast the rooms are so dark as to need artificial
light. The whole house is dirty, and is filled with the mingled odors
from the cooking-stoves and the sinks. In the winter the rooms are kept
too close by the stoves, and in the summer the natural heat is made
tenfold greater by the fires for cooking and washing. Pass these houses
on a hot night, and you will see the streets in front of them filled
with the occupants, and every window choked up with human heads, all
panting and praying for relief and fresh air. Sometimes the families
living in the close rooms we have described, take "boarders," who pay a
part of the expenses of the "establishment." Formerly the occupants of
these buildings emptied their filth and refuse matter into the public
streets, which in these quarters were simply horrible to behold; but of
late years, the police, by compelling a rigid observance of the
sanitary laws, have greatly improved the condition of the houses and
streets, and consequently the health of the people. The reader must not
suppose the house we have described is a solitary instance. There are
many single blocks of dwellings containing twice the number of families
residing on Fifth Avenue, on both sides of that street, from Washington
Square to the Park, or than a continuous row of dwellings similar to
those on Fifth Avenue, three or four miles in length. There is a
multitude of these squares, any of which contains a larger population
than the whole city of Hartford, Connecticut which covers an area of
seven miles. [Footnote: Annual Encyclopaedia, 1861] There is one single
house in the city which contains twelve hundred inhabitants.


You will see all classes of people in these tenement houses, and,
amongst others, persons who have known wealth and comfort. Alas! that
it should be so. You will see them stealing along quickly and
noiselessly, avoiding the other inmates with an aversion they cannot
conceal, and as if they fear to be recognized by some one who knew them
in their better days. They live entirely to themselves, suffering more
than those who have been used to poverty. If they can get work, they
take it gladly and labor faithfully. If unable to procure it, they
suffer, and often starve in silence. Only when driven by the direst
necessity do they seek aid from charitable persons or associations.
There are many of these men and women, persons of worth and refinement,
in the great city, whose poverty and sufferings are known only to the
eye that sees all things.


Many a fine lady, as she pauses in her toilette to admire the effect of
the beautiful locks, for which she is indebted to her wealth rather
than to nature, would shrink in horror from the glittering coils, could
she know their whole story. We will tell it.

A poor sewing girl, whose only riches consisted of a "wealth of hair,"
died in a tenement house in one of the most wretched quarters of the
city. Her life had been a fearful struggle against want and temptation,
and death was a relief to her. She died alone, in her miserable home,
with no one to minister to her last wants. Her death became known to
the inmates of the house, who notified the city authorities.
Preparations were made to lay the body in the "Potter's field," and
until these were completed it was left in the silence and loneliness of
the chamber which had witnessed its mortal sufferings. While it lay
there, the door was noiselessly opened, and a man, roughly dressed,
with his face partly concealed, entered, glancing around carefully to
see if he was noticed. Then closing the door quickly, he approached the
body, and produced a pair of large shears; lifting the lifeless form
roughly with one hand, with the other he severed the long tresses
quickly from the cold head, and gathering them up, departed as
noiselessly as he had come, taking with him the only source of
happiness the dead woman had ever possessed. The braid was sold for a
mere trifle to a fashionable hair-dresser, who asked no questions
concerning it, and when it was seen next, it was worn by some fine
lady, who, in, her thoughtless vanity, never paused to consider its



We cannot hope to do justice to this branch of our subject. To treat it
properly would require a volume, for it is full of the saddest,
sternest, and most truthful romance. A writer in _Putnam's Magazine_
for April, 1868, presented an able and authentic paper on this subject,
which is so full and interesting that we have decided to quote a few
extracts from it here, in place of any statement of our own.

Where the Bowery runs into Chatham street, we pause, and from within
our close-buttoned overcoats look out over our mufflers at the passing
throng. There are many novel features in it, but let them pass. Note
these thinly-clad creatures who hurry shivering past, while the keen
wind searches, with icy fingers, through their scanty garments, and
whirls the blinding snow in their pitiful, wearied faces. We count them
by tens, by scores, by hundreds, as we stand patiently here--all
bearing the same general aspect of countenance, all hurrying anxiously
forward, as if this morning's journey were the most momentous one of
their whole lives. But they take the same journey every morning, year
in and year out, whether the sun shines or the rain falls, or the bleak
winds whistle and the snow sweeps in their faces, with a pain like the
cutting of knives. The same faces go past in this dreary procession
month after month. Occasionally one will be missing--she is dead.
Another: she is worse than dead--_her_ face had beauty in it. Thus one
by one I have seen them drop away--caught by disease, born of their
work and their want, bringing speedy end to the weary, empty life;
caught by temptation and drawn into the giddy maelstrom of sin, to come
out no more forever.

To-morrow morning take your stand at Fulton or Catharine ferry, and
you shall see much such another procession go shivering by. The next
day station yourself somewhere on the west side, say in Canal street, a
few blocks from Broadway; here it is again. If Asmodeus-like, you could
hover in the air above the roofs of the town, and look down upon its
myriad streets at this hour, you would see such processions in every
quarter of the metropolis. The spectacle would help you to form some
idea of the vastness of the theme now on our hands.

Let us define the poor girls as those who are forced to earn whatever
food they eat, whatever clothing they wear, by hard toil; girls who do
not receive one cent, one crumb, from the dead, helpless, or recreant
parents who brought them into the world. It is, of course, impossible
to give their number accurately; but there is a result attainable by
persistent observation, day by day and week by week, at all hours, and
in all sorts of places, which is quite as reliable and satisfactory as
any that is obtainable through blundering census-takers; and I know
this army of poor girls to be one of great magnitude. The sewing girls
alone I have heard estimated at thirty thousand, by one whose life is
in every day contact with them, and has been for years. This is but a
single class among the poor girls, reflect. The estimate may be deemed
an exaggerated one. Then we will disarm criticism by taking it at half
its word. If, accordingly, we say thirty thousand for _the whole_--for
all classes--it is still a vague figure.... Few persons ever saw thirty
thousand people gathered together. But we all comprehend distances. _If
this army of poor girls were to form in a procession together, it would
be more than ten miles long_.


There are two classes of sewing girls in New York. Those who work at
home, and those who go out to work at places provided by their
employers. Those who work at home are comparatively few. They stay
there not from choice, but from necessity. Bodily deformity, or
infirmity, or sickness, or invalid parents, or relatives, whom they are
unable to leave, keeps them there.

The writer in _Putnam_, to whose deeply interesting statement we refer
the reader for further information on this point, found a poor girl of
this class, who was kept at home by the sickness of her consumptive
father, living and working in a miserable tenement house in the upper
part of Mulberry street. After a brief conversation with her, he asked:

'What rent do you pay for this room, Mary?'

'Four dollars a month, sir.'

"That," he continues, "is little more than thirteen cents a day, you
will observe."

'What do you get for making such a shirt as that?'

'Six cents, sir.'

'What! You make a shirt for six cents?'

'Yes, sir, and furnish the thread.'

If my reader is incredulous, I can assure him that Mary does not tell a
falsehood; for I know that this price is paid by some of the most
'respectable' firms in New York. 'Can't you get work to do at higher

'Sometimes, sir. But these folks are better than many others; they pay
regularly. Some who offer better prices will cheat, or they won't pay
when the work is carried home These folks give me plenty of work, and I
never have to wait; so I don't look around for better. I can't afford
to take the risk, sir; so many will cheat us.'

Respectability is a good thing, you see. Let me whisper a few other
prices to you, which respectability pays its poor girls. Fifteen or
twenty cents for making a linen coat, complete; sixty-two cents _per
dozen_ for making men's heavy overalls; one dollar a dozen for making
flannel shirts. Figures are usually very humdrum affairs, but what a
story they tell here! These last prices I did not get from Mary. I got
them in the first place, from a benevolent lady who works with heart
and hand, day after day, all her time, in endeavoring to better the
condition of the poor girls of New York. But I got them, in the second
place, from the employers themselves. By going to them, pencil in hand,
and desiring the cheerful little particulars for publication? Hardly! I
sent my office-boy out in search of work for an imaginary 'sister,' and
to inquire what would be paid her. Having inquired, and got his answer,
it is needless to say that James concluded his sister could live
without taking in sewing.

So, you see, that in order merely to pay her rent, Mary must make two
shirts a day. That being done, she must make more to meet her other
expenses. She has fuel to buy--and a pail of coal costs her fifteen
cents. She has food to buy--but she eats very little, her father still
less. She has not tasted meat of any kind for over a year, she tells
us. What then does she eat? Bread and potatoes, principally; she drinks
a cup of cheap tea, without milk or sugar, at night--provided she has
any, which she frequently has not. She has also to buy (I am not
painting fancy pictures, I am stating facts, which are not regulated by
any rules known to our experience) 'a trifle of whiskey.' Mary's father
was not reared a teetotaller, and though I was, and have no taste for
liquor, I am able to see how a little whiskey may be the last physical
solace possible to this miserable man, whose feet press the edge of a
consumptive's grave.

"Perhaps you think it cannot be any of our first and wealthiest firms
that pay poor girls starvation prices for their work. But you are
mistaken. If my publishers did not deem it unwise to do so, I should
give the names of some of our best Broadway houses as among the
offenders against the poor girls."


"Let us follow one of these poor girls," says the writer we have
quoted, "as she comes out of the den of this beast of prey, and moves
off, wringing her hands in an agony of distress. Day and night, with
wearying industry, she had been working upon the dozen shirts he had
given her to make. She had been looking forward--with what eagerness
you can hardly realize--to the hour when she could carry him her work
and get her pay, and recover her deposit money or receive more shirts
to do. Now she is turned into the street with nothing! She dares not
return to her miserable boarding-place in Delancey street, for her
Irish landlady is clamorous for the two weeks' board now due. Six
dollars! The sum is enormous to her. She had expected that to-night she
could hand the Irish woman the money she had earned, and that it, with
a promise of more soon, might appease her. But now she has nothing for
her--nothing. Despair settles down upon her. Hunger is its companion,
for she has had no supper. Where shall she go?"

Night has come down since she left Delancey street, carrying the heavy
bundle of new-made shirts. The streets are lighted up, and are alive
with bustle. Heedless what course she takes, unnoticed, uncared-for by
any in the great ocean of humanity whose waves surge about her, she
wanders on, and by-and-by turns into Broadway. Broadway, ever
brilliant--with shop windows where wealth gleams in a thousand rare
and beautiful shapes; Broadway, with its crowding omnibuses and
on-pouring current of life, its Niagara roar, its dazzle--is utter
loneliness to her. The fiery letters over the theatre entrances are
glowing in all the colors of the rainbow. Gayly-attired ladies, girls
of her own age, blest with lovers or brothers, are streaming in at the
portal, beyond which she imagines every delight--music, and beauty, and
perfume of flowers, and _warmth_. She looks in longingly, hugging her
shivering shoulders under her sleazy shawl, till a policeman bids her
'move on.' Out of the restaurants there float delicious odors of
cooking meats, making her hungrier still. Her eyes rest, with a look
half wild and desperate, on the painted women who pass, in rustling
silks, and wearing the _semblance_ of happiness. At least they are
fed--they are clothed--they can sit in bright parlors, though they sit
with sin. It is easy to yield to temptation. So many do! You little
know how many. In Paris, she might perhaps go and throw herself into
the Seine. In New York, such suicides are not common; but there is a
moral suicide, which is common. Thousands on thousands of poor girls
have thrown themselves into this stream, in the last agony of
desperation; sinking down in the dark current of sin, to be heard of no

But this poor wanderer has memories of a home, and a mother, under
whose protection she had been taught to shudder at sin. She cannot
plunge into this ghastly river with wide-open eyes--at least, not yet.
She walks on.

Her ear is caught by sounds of music and laughter, songs and bursts of
applause, that come up out of these basement-haunting concert saloons.
She has heard of the 'pretty waiter girls'--the fine clothes they wear,
the gay lives they lead, their only labor to wait upon the patrons of
the saloon, and chat with them as they sit about the tables listening
to the music. 'It is a life of Paradise,' she murmurs, 'to this life I
lead!' At least, she thinks, there is no actual sin in being a waiter
girl. She perceives a wide distance between the descent of these
basement stairs to solicit employment, and that other dreadful

The poor girls who work in these underground hells do not get good pay,
and their work is not light. They are confined in these noisome places,
thick with tobacco smoke and foul with poisonous odors, till two
o'clock in the morning; in some places till five o'clock. Their pay is
four dollars to six dollars a week; higher figures, certainly, than
thousands of working-girls get, but, for two reasons, lower, in effect.
The first of these two reasons is, that the waiter girl must dress with
some degree of attractiveness. The second, and the most weighty, is,
that she must pay a high price for board. Going home long after
midnight, she must live somewhere in the vicinity of the saloon. Then
the woman who, having taken a girl to board, finds that she comes home
after two o'clock every night, draws her own conclusions at once. That
girl must pay _well_ for her board, if, indeed, she be not turned out
of the house without a word. It will scarcely help the matter, if the
girl explains that she is employed at a concert saloon. The woman knows
very well what 'pretty waiter girls' are. 'Those creatures' must pay
for what they have, and pay roundly. The result is, that the waiter
girl's occupation will not support her. The next result is, that there
are no virtuous girls in the concert saloons of Broadway--unless they
be such girls as this we are following tonight, as she wanders the
streets, pausing to look down into this fancied half-Paradise, only to
enter it at last, in search of 'good pay.'

Let us go down with her. She pushes open the green-baize door, and
walks timidly to the bar. A girl who is passably pretty can almost
always get a situation here. The big-armed prize-fighter-looking brute
behind the bar reads our wanderer's history at once. 'Fresh' girls are
rare in that quarter. She is assisted to improve her dress a little--
in some cases these girls are provided with a fancy costume, _a la
Turque_, which they don at coming, and doff at leaving each night--and
she commences her work. A crowd of half-drunk rowdies enter, and call
on her to serve them, attracted by her sweet face. The grossest insults
are put upon her, her character being taken for granted; infamous
liberties are taken with her person, and her confusion laughed at. She
would fly from the place at once, if she dared; but she does not dare--
she is afraid of the man behind the bar. Her experience with men has
taught her to expect nothing but brutality from them, if she offend
them in any way. When the weary hours have dragged along to the end,
and the place is closed, she goes out into the street again, with a
bevy of other girls. The street is still and lonely; the long lines of
lamps twinkle in silence; the shop windows are all shrouded in
darkness; there are no rumbling wheels, save when an occasional hack
passes with slow-trotting horses.

Now she must decide upon her course. This is the critical moment. Will
she adhere to her new-found employment? If she do, one of her
companions will volunteer to take her to a boarding-place--and from
that hour she is lost. But perhaps she breaks away: a policeman
saunters by, and she appeals to him, begging to be taken to a station-
house to sleep--a common resource with the homeless poor girl--and on
the morrow resumes her deathly struggle for existence. How long it will
last--how long she will fight her almost inevitable fate--no one can

"But the poor girls who work in shops provided by their employers, fare
better, you think. At least, they find shelter and warmth in the cold
winter, while at work? At least, they are permitted to breathe and


There are hoop-skirt manufactories where, in the incessant din of
machinery, girls stand upon weary feet all day long for fifty cents.
There are photograph galleries--you pass them in Broadway admiringly--
where girls 'mount' photographs in dark rooms, which are hot in summer
and cold in winter, for the same money. There are girls who make fans,
who work in feathers, who pick over and assort rags for paper
warehouses, who act as 'strippers' in tobacco shops, who make caps, and
paper boxes, and toys, and almost all imaginable things. There are
milliners' girls, and bindery girls, and printers' girls--press-
feeders, bookfolders, hat-trimmers. It is not to be supposed that all
these places are objectionable; it is not to be supposed that all the
places where sewing-girls work are objectionable; but among each class
there are very many--far _too_ many--where evils of the gravest
character exist, where the poor girls are wronged, the innocents
suffer. There are places where there are not sufficient fires kept, in
cold weather, and where the poor girl, coming in wet and shivering from
the storm, must go immediately to work, wet as she is, and so continue
all day. There are places where the 'silent system' of prisons is
rigidly enforced, where there are severe penalties for whispering to
one's neighbor, and where the windows are closely curtained, so that no
girl can look out upon the street; thus, in advance, inuring the girls
to the hardships of prison discipline, in view of the possibility that
they may some day become criminals! There are places where the employer
treats his girls like slaves, in every sense of the word. Pause a
moment, and reflect on _all_ that signifies. As in the South 'as it
was,' some of these girls are given curses, and even blows, and even
_kicks_; while others are special favorites either of 'the boss,' or of
some of his male subordinates, and dress well, pay four dollars a week
for board, and fare well generally--on a salary of three dollars a


Until you have lived the life of the working girl, lady, reading this
page, you cannot know what their temptation is--how hard it is to keep
away sin and shame. By all the doors at which temptation can enter to
you, it enters to them; and by many other doors of which you know
nothing by experience. It comes in the guise of friendship to them, who
are utterly friendless in the world. It comes in the guise of love--and
do you think the poor girl never yearns for the caressing touch of
love's palm on her aching brow? never longs to be folded in the
comforting embrace of love's strong arms? Ah, _she_ knows the worth of
love! It comes, too, through womanly vanity, as it does to her happier
sisters, who sit higher in the social scale. But in addition to these,
temptation comes to the poor girl through the tortures of a hunger
which gnaws upon the vitals--of a cold which chills the young blood
with its ice--of a weariness under which the limbs tremble, the head
reels, the whole frame sinks prostrate.

"If you were starving, and could not otherwise get food, possibly you
would steal it. I would. If hunger will rouse strong men to active
crime, how easy must it be for it to lead the poor girl to a merely
passive sin! Yet she struggles with a bravery which few would give her
credit for--with this, as with all her temptations. There was Agnes--,
a beautiful girl of seventeen, who resisted the temptation that came
to her through her own employer. He discharged her. Unable to pay her
board, she was turned into the streets. It was a bitter day in January.
For _four days_ she wandered the streets, looking for work--only for
work. 'I envied the boys who shoveled snow from the sidewalks. I would
gladly have done their work for half they got.' Hungry, she pawned her
shawl. When that was gone, she went twenty-four hours without a crumb,
shivering through the streets. At night, she slept in the station-
house--without a bed, thankful for mere shelter. Again and again she
was tempted; but she did not yield. She found work at last, and leads
her cruel life still, patiently and uncomplaining. There was Caroline
G---, who came from the West to New York, fancying the great city would
have plenty of work to give her. She, too, wandered the streets, and
slept at night in the station-house. On the third day--which was the
Christian Sabbath--mercy seemed to have found her. A gentlemanly
appearing person spoke to her, and learning her want, offered to give
her a place as seamstress in his family. He lived a short distance in
the country, he said, and took her to a hotel to stay till next day,
when they would take the cars for his home. The hotel was an elegant
one; the room given her was hung with silk and lace; but she preferred
the hard floor of the station-house, that night, to its luxurious
state--for her 'protector' was a wolf in sheep's clothing."



You can scarcely walk a single block without your attention being drawn
to one or more of the class called "street boys." We have already
devoted a separate chapter to the musicians, and we must now endeavor
to give the reader an idea of the rest of this class.


Every morning, by times, and every afternoon between one o'clock and
dark, if you chance to be in the neighborhood of Printing House Square,
you will see throngs of boys rushing frantically out of the cellars of
the printing houses of the daily journals. They have barely passed the
portals, when they set up their morning cry, in a shrill, sharp tone,
"'Ere's your ''Erald,' 'Mornin' Times,' 'Buy a Tribune?'" etc. In the
afternoon, they scream into your ears the names of the "News," "Mail,"
"Express," "Telegram," "Post," and other evening journals, flavoring
their announcements with shouts such as these: "'Nuther murder!"
"Tremendous sensation!" "Orful shootin' scrape!" "'Orrible haccident!"
and so on. They climb up on the steps of the stage, thrust their grim
little faces in the windows, and almost bring nervous passengers to
their feet by their yells; or, scrambling into a street car, they will
offer you their papers in such an earnest, appealing way, that, nine
times out of ten, you will buy them out of sheer pity for the boys.

The boys who sell the morning papers are very few in number. The
newspaper stands seem to have the whole monopoly of this branch of the
trade, and the efforts of the newsboys are confined to the afternoon
journals--especially the cheap ones--some of which, however, are dear
bargains at a penny. They swarm around the City Hall, and in the
eastern section of the city, below Canal street; and in the former
locality, half a dozen will sometimes surround a luckless pedestrian,
thrusting their wares in his face, and literally forcing him to buy one
to get rid of them. The moment he shows the least disposition to yield,
they commence fighting amongst themselves for the "honor" of serving
him. They are ragged and dirty. Some have no coats, no shoes, and no
hat. Some are simply stupid, others are bright, intelligent little
fellows, who would make good and useful men if they could have a

The majority of these boys live at home, but many of them are wanderers
in the streets, selling papers at times, and begging at others. Some
pay their earnings, which rarely amount to more than thirty cents per
day, to their mothers--others spend them in tobacco, strong drink, and
in visiting the low-class theatres and concert halls.

Formerly, these little fellows suffered very much from exposure and
hunger. In the cold nights of winter, they slept on the stairways of
the newspaper offices, in old boxes or barrels, under door steps, and
sometimes sought a "warm bed" on the street gratings of the printing
offices, where the warm steam from the vaults below could pass over
them. The attention of the "Children's Aid Association" was called to
their hardships in 1854, and an effort was made to relieve them by
establishing a newsboys' lodging house.


This is now situated in Park Place, near Broadway, and is richly worth
visiting. It is always full at night. The boys pay five cents for
supper, and five cents for bed. The whole of the arrangements are under
the superintendence of Mr. and Mrs. O'Conner, who have been most
efficient in their management of the house. It requires a great deal of
tact to keep these boys under proper discipline, without, at the same
time, letting them feel that the restrictions are too severe. Supper is
served for them between six and seven o'clock, and is of plain,
substantial materials. The boys then adjourn to the lecture-room, where
they are supplied with books, and where, in the course of the evening,
they unite in singing various hymns. Occasionally, gentlemen come in
and give lectures. Some of the boys are eager to learn to write, and
are supplied with writing materials. The sitting generally terminates
about nine o'clock, with the recitation of the Lord's Prayer and the
singing of the Doxology. The singing is marked with force, rather than
great accuracy; it sometimes partakes very much of the character of a
bawl. But the lads are amused, and perhaps a little instructed, so
something is gained. After these exercises, the tired ones go to bed,
the lively blades to the gymnasium, the philosophic apply themselves to
draughts or dominoes. The gymnasium is a most amusing place. There is
one little boy, named 'Chris,' a newsboy, aged eleven, who lost his leg
by being rode over by a coal cart, about four years ago, whose agility
is perfectly wonderful. He throws aside the crutch with disdain, hops
across the room with incredible swiftness, seizes the rings of the
swing, and flies through the air like a bird. Some of the newsboys have
considerable savings, and are very well-conducted lads. Last month, one
of them picked up a roll of bills amounting to two hundred dollars. He
brought it immediately to Mr. O'Conner, and asked his advice. It was
decided that the finding should be advertised; but as the owner was not
forthcoming, the boy placed his savings in a bank; and has added
considerably to the original amount.


The bootblacks form a peculiar feature of New York life. They are boys
from ten to sixteen years of age. A few are older, and there are some
men following this avocation on the street. The boys, however, are
always meant when this class is referred to. Some of them are newsboys
early in the morning, and bootblacks for the rest of the day.

They provide themselves with a box, with a sliding lid and a rest for
the feet of their customers, a box of blacking, and a pair of good
brushes. All the articles are kept in the box, when not in use, and the
owner carries this receptacle by means of a leather strap fastened to
it. This he slings across his shoulder, and trudges on with his box on
his back. The headquarters of this class are in or near the Five Points
district. They form a regular confraternity, and have their own laws or
customs. They are generally sharp, shrewd lads, with any number of bad
habits, and little or no principle. They are averse to giving much
information with respect to themselves or their society, admission into
which requires a payment of two dollars. To what purpose the money thus
obtained is devoted, it is hard to say, but the object of the
association seems to be mutual protection. The "Order" establishes a
fixed price for labor, and takes care to protect its members against
the competition of irregular intruders. The established price, for
blacking a pair of boots or shoes, is ten cents. When it is known to a
member that an outsider is blacking for a less sum, the fact is
reported to the society, which appoints a delegation to look after the
presumptuous individual. He is promptly warned that he must work for
the regular price, or "quit work." If he declines to do either, his
head, in the elegant language of the society, is "punched," and he is
driven from the street. The affairs of the society are managed by a
"Captain of the bootblacks," whose word is supreme, and who wields his
power as all arbitrary rulers do.

The price of a new outfit, or "kit," such as we have described, is from
two to three dollars. Second-hand outfits can be bought of the junk-
dealers for much less. When asked how much they earn, the boys give
evasive answers, and it has been said that their society does not
permit them to tell the truth upon this subject. One dollar is supposed
to be the average daily earning of an industrious boy. The writer was
once much amused by a little fellow telling him, with an air of great
importance, that he was going that night to attend the trial of Bill
Simpson, a recreant bootblack, who was to be "brought afore the s'ciety
for blacking boots for five cents." The trial must have been edifying.
Where and when the society meets, and what is the nature of its
transactions, are secrets known only to the initiated.

A large part of the earnings of the bootblacks is spent for tobacco and
drink. They are patrons of the Bowery theatres and concert halls, and
their criticisms of the performances are frequently worth hearing. The
"Children's Aid Society" makes them objects of its especial care, its
great end and aim being "to induce the boys to emigrate to the West."
The course of life which they pursue leads to miserable results. When a
bootblack gets to be seventeen, he finds that his career is at an end--
it does not produce money enough--and he has acquired lazy, listless
habits, which totally unfit him for any kind of work. He becomes a
loafer, a vagrant, and perhaps worse. To save boys from this fate, the
society labors most earnestly to induce them to go to the West; and it
is stated that the desire of the boys to secure western homes increases
year by year. Up to the present time about seven hundred have been sent
out, and many of them are now filling respectable positions in society.



After living in New York for a few months, you cannot resist the
conclusion that it is a City of Beggars. You meet them at every step,
and they follow you into your residence and place of business. A few
you know to be genuine, and you give them gladly, but cannot resist the
conviction that the majority of those who accost you are simply
impostors, as, indeed, they are. Begging is not allowed on the street-
cars, in the stages, the ferry-boats, or at any place of amusement, but
there is no law against the practice of it on the streets. Broadway is
the favorite resort of this class, as it is the principal promenade of
the city people, and Fourteenth, and Twenty-third streets, and Fifth
Avenue are being made disagreeable in this way.

Besides these street beggars, there are numbers of genteel, and
doubtless well-meaning persons who make it their business to beg for
others. They intrude upon you at the most inconvenient times, and
venture into your private apartments with a freedom and assurance which
positively amaze you. Refuse them, and they are insulting.

Then there are those who approach you by means of letters. They send
you the most pitiful appeals for aid, and assure you that nothing but
the direst necessity induces them to send you such a letter, and that
they would not do so under any circumstances, were not they aware of
your well-known charitable disposition. Some persons of known wealth
receive as many as a dozen letters of this kind each day. They are, in
ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, from impostors, and are properly
consigned to the waste-basket.

Housekeepers have frequent applications every day for food. These are
generally complied with, as, in all families of moderate size, there is
much that must either be given or thrown away. Children and old people
generally do this kind of begging. They come with long faces and
pitiful voices, and ask for food in the most doleful tones. Grant their
requests, and you will be amused at the cool manner in which they will
produce large baskets, filled with provisions, and deposit your gift
therein. Many Irish families find all their provisions in this way.

A lady desirous of helping a little child who was in the habit of
coming to her on such errands, once asked her what her mother's
occupation was?

"She keeps a boardin' house," was the innocent reply.

"A boarding house!" exclaimed the lady in surprise, "then why does she
send you out to beg?"

"Oh!" said the child naively, "she takes care of the house, and I do
the marketing. She doesn't call it begging."

The cool impudence of street beggars is often amusing. The writer was
sitting a short while since in the office of a friend, when a man
entered and began a most pitiful story. The gentleman gave him a penny
or two, then looking at him for the first time, said:

"How is this, my friend? This is the second time you have been here to-
day. I gave you something this morning."

The man had evidently blundered into the office this time, and he now
glanced at the gentleman and about the room, searchingly. He recognized
them, and bursting into a laugh at his mistake, left the room without

The majority of the beggars of the City, we are glad to say, are
foreigners and their children. An American mendicant is rarely seen.
Our people will suffer in silence rather than beg, but the foreigners
do not seem to be influenced by any such feelings. They are used to it,
no doubt, in their own country, and bring their pauper habits over here
with them. We make an exception in favor of the Germans. They are a
hard-working people and rarely beg.

The City makes a liberal provision for the poor, and the charitable
associations do much more, but still it is impossible to relieve all
the suffering. The reader will find in one of the engravings of this
work, an instance of the manner in which the poor are provided with
food at the Tombs.



Nine tenths of the emigration from Europe to the United States is
through the port of New York. So large is the number of emigrants
arriving here, that the authorities have been compelled to establish a
depot for the especial accommodation of this class. This depot is
located at the Battery.


The Battery was formerly one of the most delightful spots in New York.
It occupies the extreme lower end of the island, and commands a fine
view of the bay and harbor. It had formerly a granite sea-wall, along
which was the favorite promenade of the city, and was shaded by a grove
of fine oaks which the Dutch settlers had been wise enough to spare. It
was almost triangular in form, and on two sides was built up with
stately mansions of the old style, which were occupied by the _elite_
of the metropolis. It had an elegant and aristocratic air, which made
it very attractive to both native and visitor.

The houses and trees are still standing, but the dwellers who made the
place so gay, twenty years ago, have flown up the island, and the
buildings are occupied with the offices of the various shipping lines,
that ply between this and other ports; and by cheap hotels, bar-rooms,
and sailors' boarding houses, the grass in the enclosure is trodden
down, and the place is both dirty and repulsive. The railing is lined
with long rows of street-venders' stalls, and the gates have been taken
away. Crowds of emigrants, drunken men, slovenly women and dirty
children are to be seen at all hours of the day in the old park, and
the only beauty still clinging to the scene is in the expanse of blue
water which stretches away from it seaward. At night the Battery is not
a safe place to visit, for its frequenters respect neither life nor
property, and the bay is close at hand to hide all traces of crime.


The emigrant ships, both sail vessels and steamers, anchor in the river
after entering the port. They generally lie off their own piers, and
wait for the Custom-House boat to board them. As soon as this is done,
and the necessary forms are gone through with, preparations are made to
land the emigrants, as the ship cannot enter her berth at the pier till
this duty is accomplished. The emigrants and their baggage are placed
on board the Custom-House steamer, and are at once conveyed to Castle
Garden, a round building which juts out into the water at the extreme
end of the Battery.

In the year 1807 work was commenced on this building by the General
Government, the site having been ceded by the city. It was intended to
erect a strong fortification, to be called Castle Clinton, but, in
1820, it was discovered that the foundations were not strong enough to
bear heavy ordnance, and Congress reconveyed the site to the city. The
building was then completed as an opera house, and used for operatic
and theatrical performances, concerts, and public receptions. It was
the largest and most elegant hall of its kind in the country, and was a
favorite resort of pleasure seekers. Jenny Lind sang there, during her
visit to the United States. It was used for this purpose until the year
1855, when, the fashion and wealth of the city having removed too high
up town to make it profitable, it was leased to the Commissioners of
Emigration, as a landing-place for emigrants.

This Commission has the exclusive charge of the Landing Depot and its
inmates. It is composed of six Commissioners, appointed by the Governor
of the State. The Mayors of New York and Brooklyn, and the Presidents
of the Irish and German Emigrant Societies, are members _ex-officio_.
They are responsible to the Legislature for their acts.

The Landing Depot is fitted up with quarters for the emigrants and
their baggage, and with various stores at which they can procure
articles of necessity at moderate prices. As most of them come provided
with some money, there is an exchange office in the enclosure, at which
they can procure American currency for their foreign money. Many of
them come furnished with railroad tickets to their destinations in the
West, which they have purchased in Europe, but the majority buy their
tickets in this city. There is an office for this purpose in the
building, at which the agents of the various lines leading from the
city to the Great West are prepared to sell tickets. No one is
compelled to transact his business in the building, but all are advised
to do so, as they will then be fairly treated; while they are in danger
of falling into the hands of swindlers outside. Attached to the
establishment is an official, whose duty it is to furnish any
information desired by the emigrants, and to advise them as to the
boarding houses of the city which are worthy of their patronage. The
keepers of these houses are held to a strict account of their treatment
of their guests.

The majority of the emigrants go West in a few days after their
arrival. Some have already decided on their place of future abode
before leaving Europe, and others are influenced by the information
they receive after reaching this country. Should they desire to remain
in this city they are frequently able to obtain employment, through the
Labor Exchange connected with the Landing Depot, and by the same means
many obtain work in other parts of the country--the Commissioners
taking care that the contracts thus made are lawful and fair to both

As we have said, the greater number of the emigrants arriving here have
money when they come. Others, who have been able to raise only enough
to reach this, to them, "land of promise," or who have been swindled
out of their funds by sharpers in European ports, arrive here in the
most destitute condition. These are a burden to the city and, State at
first, and are at once sent to the Emigrant Refuge and Hospital.


This establishment is located on Ward's Island, in the Harlem River,
and consists of several large buildings for hospitals, nurseries, and
other purposes. It has a farm of one hundred and six acres attached to
it. The destitute emigrants are sent to this establishment, as soon as
their condition is ascertained, and cared for until they either obtain
employment, or are provided for by their friends in this country, or
are sent to their original destinations in the West at the expense of
the Commissioners. Medical attendance is provided at the Landing Depot,
and is free to all needing it. Serious cases are sent to the hospital
on Ward's Island, where good medical skill and attendance are

The number of emigrants at the Refuge sometimes amounts to several
hundred of all nationalities. The Irish and German elements
predominate, and these being bitterly hostile to each other, the
authorities are frequently compelled to adopt severe measures to
prevent an open collision between them. In the winter of 1867-68, the
Irish and German residents on the island came to blows, and a bloody
riot immediately began between them, which was only quelled by the
prompt arrival of a strong force of the City Police.


The Commissioners adopt every means in their power to prevent the
inmates of the Landing Depot from falling into the hands of sharpers.
Each emigrant in passing out of the enclosure for any purpose is
required to apply for a permit, without which he cannot return, and no
one is allowed, by the policeman on duty at the gate, to enter without
permission from the proper authorities. In this way sharpers and
swindlers are kept out of the enclosure, inside of which the emigrant
is perfectly safe; and when he ventures out he is warned of the dangers
he will have to encounter the moment he passes the gateway.

The majority of the emigrants are unable to speak our language, and all
are ignorant of the country, its laws, and customs. This makes them an
easy prey to the villains who throng the Battery in wait for them.

Approaching these poor creatures, as they are gazing about them with
the timidity and loneliness of strangers in a strange land, the
scoundrels will accost them in their own language. Glad to hear the
mother-tongue once more, the emigrant readily enters into conversation
with the fellow, and reveals to him his destination, his plans, and the
amount of money he has with him. The sharper, after some pleasantries
meant to lull the suspicions of his victim, offers to show him where he
can purchase his railroad tickets at a lower rate than at the office in
the Landing Depot, and, if the emigrant is willing, conducts him to a
house in Washington, Greenwich, West, or some neighboring street, where
a confederate sells him the so-called railroad tickets and receives his
money. He is then conducted back to the Battery by a different route,
and the sharper leaves him. Upon inquiring at the office, he learns
that his cheap tickets are so much worthless paper, and that he has
been swindled out of his money, which may be his all. Of course he is
unable to find the place where he was robbed, and has no redress for
his loss.

[Illustration: Castle Garden, the place the emigrants land--Sharpers
trying to swindle them.]

Others again are led off, by persons who pretend to be friends, to take
a friendly drink in a neighboring saloon. Their liquor is drugged, and
they are soon rendered unconscious, when they are robbed of their
money, valuables, and even their clothes, and turned out into the
street in this condition, to be picked up by the police.

All sorts of worthless wares are palmed off upon them by unscrupulous
wretches. They are drawn into gaming and are fleeced out of their
money. Dozens of sharpers are on the watch for them, and woe to them if
they fall into the hands of these wretches.

Women are prominent amongst the enemies of the emigrants. The
proprietors of the dance-houses and brothels of the city send their
agents to the Battery, to watch their opportunity to entice the fresh,
healthy emigrant girls to their hells. They draw them away by promises
of profitable employment, and other shams, and carry them off to the
houses of their heartless masters and mistresses. There they are
drugged and ruined, or in other ways literally forced into lives of



From a recent number of the _New York Times_, we take the following
excellent description of this class, which is peculiar to the

Like the Western Army and Army of the Potomac during the war, the City
of New York possesses its troop of bummers--men who hate the discipline
of life, detest marching in the ranks of workers, and hold industry in
abomination. They consist of two classes, the temporary, made so by
misfortune, or their own fault, and the permanent, who are so from
their own deliberate choice. The first deserve what they seldom
receive--our pity and sympathy, while the second equally rarely obtain
their just deserts of contempt and disgust. The regular bummer is a
mixture of the thief and beggar, usually possessing more of the
characteristics of the latter than the former, as his cowardice and
indolence prevent him from rising high in the ranks of criminals. His
strongest feeling is a horror of all regular employment; his chief
happiness is to lie with a well-filled stomach on the Battery, in the
sun, and sleep; his hell, or 'infinite dread,' is to be arrested by the
police and be sent to the Island as a vagrant.

All that a man, whether rich or poor, can require, is food, clothing,
lodging, and money for amusement or luxury. More than this the
wealthiest can never obtain--less than this the bummer seldom
possesses. His first principle is never to pay for food, even if he has
the money. In a city like this, where plenty of good food is thrown
away every day, it is a shame for any man to go hungry,' remarked one
of this tribe, 'and I won't go with an empty belly; I ask until I have
enough.' This is the feeling of all, and is acted upon by all. He begs
bread from the bakers, and broken victuals from restaurants and private
houses. In summer he strolls around the market to pick up or steal what
he can find. His money he will spend for liquor for himself and
friends, but considers it wasted if used to buy food. He will treat a
brother in distress to five-cent whiskey as long as his money holds
out, but his comrade might starve before he would buy him a loaf of
bread. He has his regular routes and customers whom he visits, and some
of these _chevaliers d'industrie_ keep regular lists of the charitable,
their residences, what is the proper time to call, and the probable
result of such visit. 'Mr.----, No.--street, coffee and bread, 7 and 8
A.M.; Mr.----, No.--street, 9 A.M., bread, cold meat, or cheese; brown
stone house corner of----street, 8 P.M., Irish girl, dinner; bakery,--
street, bread; cracker bakery,----, street; house four doors from----
street, lady, lots to eat and money; sisters in----street, soup;
hotel,----street, soup meat, 12.30 P.M.,' etc., etc. This is a partial
copy of a list seen by the writer. As a rule he does not go to the same
place two days in succession, but having a number, can levy toll at
intervals and still keep supplied. Woe to the charitable restaurant-
keeper who expresses sympathy--he will be overrun. The keeper of a
certain eating-house not far from the City Hall, in reply to the thanks
for the meal that he had given to our cormorant, said: 'You are
heartily welcome. I never send any man hungry from my door.' This
expression was spread, and he was almost overwhelmed. On one day, in
less than a week from this unfortunate remark, he had thirty-two
callers within twenty-four hours, and was compelled to refuse all in
order to obtain peace.

The clothing of a bummer, while, of course, rarely of the latest
fashion, is still generally sound and whole, except when on an
expedition in pursuit of a wardrobe. This he obtains by 'asking,'
though sometimes he will buy cast-off garments in Baxter street, but in
general he prefers to beg for it. Some keep dilapidated clothing
expressly to wear when begging, and even lend it to others to use for
the purpose. Some also make a list of the places where they will be apt
to procure what they require. This list they obtain from the daily
papers. Every morning they examine the obituary notices, and enter the
date of the deaths, of persons of about their own age, on paper; about
a week or two thereafter, they call on the afflicted family, and very
frequently obtain a supply. What they cannot use they exchange at some
of the numerous second-hand dealers for what they can, or sell it

Their lodging-place is vast, consisting of the whole city. They are
regular nomads, having no fixed abiding place, driven by the police or
weather from one spot to the other. The City Hall Park is their usual
headquarters by day. Many also visit the criminal courts to pass away
the time, but the neighborhood of the City Hall appears to be their
favorite resort. Whenever the sky is clear they can be seen sitting on
the benches, vainly endeavoring to keep awake. If their gyrations
become too violent, or they tumble from their seats, the watchful
police are upon them, and, with sundry pokes of the club, compel them
to banish Morpheus by walking--outside of the Park. Those who have not
rested well during the night, at early dawn wend their way thither,
and, stretching themselves on the benches, endeavor to snatch a nap,
but, if seen, are always bastinadoed; for the only method our
Metropolitans understand of arousing a man is by beating a reveille on
his feet with a club. On the Battery, near the water's edge during the
summer, was a large pile of gravel. This, in dry weather, was a
favorite resort. Here, every night from nine o'clock, eighteen or
twenty figures could be seen stretched out in every shape. Most had old
newspapers under them; some had a brick or stone for a pillow, but all
were hatless. Hats were dangerous pieces of property to possess, as if
one was ever left exposed it was sure to be stolen. The police rarely
disturbed them; their greatest enemies were the mosquitoes. Many of
these night birds sleep in hallways, or on stoops. Some creep into
empty wagons, while others visit the hay barges in the North River. The
farmers who bring their produce to the Washington Market, arrive there
early in the morning, and they and the carriers who assist them to
unload, generally sleep in the doorways opposite their teams. Among
these the bummers frequently creep to rest, and as the police have
neither the time nor inclination to pick them out, the black sheep
remain with the white until the morning breaks, when they crawl away or
skulk around the huckster-stalls to gather refuse fruit. When the
weather is cold or rainy, the station-house is taken as a last resort.
A description of the lodgings there would lead us away from our
subject; it is sufficient to say that only a regular bummer can enjoy a
rest in such a place. The life of such a creature is, necessarily,
merely an animal existence, and, as a rule, he does not care for any
amusement beyond listening to trials in the criminal courts. If with a
full stomach he can doze away his time, he is satisfied, and asks
nothing more. When, however, he desires any recreation, he patronizes
Tony Pastor's Bowery Theatre. At the latter place he is often seen
standing near the door, with the hope of having a check given to him by
some one who leaves early. Some money he requires to try his luck in
policy shops, and especially to pay for his drinks. His methods of
'raising the wind' are only limited by his ingenuity. Simple begging,
without an excuse, he seldom tries, as, being able-bodied, his requests
would be roughly refused. He frequently sells hats, boots, and articles
of clothing that he has begged. When on such a collecting tour, he
carefully hides his hat or gives it to a comrade, and then calls in
some wholesale hat-store. There he tells a pitiable story of having
been compelled to sleep in the street and of having his hat stolen. He
goes from place to place and frequently succeeds in collecting quite a
number. One of these gentry has been heard to brag that he obtained
fifteen different hats, all good, in one day. Boots and shoes he
collects by showing his feet bursting out of the covering he has put on
them for the occasion. The most singular manner of making money is
practiced by a German, who told of it with great pride. Every morning
he examines the obituary notices in the German newspapers. He then
writes a few lines of something he calls poetry concerning each
deceased. This he takes to the afflicted family, and tells them that
seeing the death of a 'dear one' in the paper, the following thoughts
were suggested, and then gives them his manuscript. On being asked if
there is anything to pay, he replies that he is poor and will take
anything they choose to give. Most give ten cents, some twenty-five,
and he has even received a dollar, probably where the sorrow was very
deep. When all other means fail, our subject visits the different
ferries, and there asks the persons about to cross for enough to pay
his ferriage. In this way he collects a small amount during the day,
but as it is tedious and slow work he never undertakes it except as a
last resort. With half the trouble that he takes to beg he could earn a
decent livelihood, but detesting regularity he never undertakes it. One
sense of shame, however, yet remains to him. He hides his begging under
a euphemism; he never says he "begs," but always "asks." The Germans
call it _fechten_, to fight. They are the most successful, for two
reasons--first, because the German nation is peculiarly hospitable and
charitable to their own countrymen. Those speaking the same language
and coming from the same country are always received kindly and are
assisted. A Prussian helps a Prussian, a Saxon a Saxon, etc., etc.;
secondly, they have less hesitancy in asking for what they need, being
accustomed to it from their own country. There, when a mechanic has
learned his trade he goes on his travels, and seldom having money, must
beg his way. He is seldom refused his _reisepfennig_, travelling penny,
and never his food and lodging. When he arrives at a place where there
is a boss in his trade, if there is no work for him, each journeyman
gives him something, and the boss twice as much. This is the custom,
and when he obtains work he must do the same to those who come after
him. Here he has little shame in asking for money, victuals or clothes.
The German druggists have a singular custom of giving two cents to all
beggars of their own nationality. Why they give that exact sum is a
mystery, but it seems to be their habit.

Such are the bummers of New York, hastily sketched. Much more could be
told did the space allow, but it is enough to show the nature of those
excrescences on the body politic; men who, by their indolence and
impudence, curdle the milk of human kindness and dishearten the
charitable, taking the help that would make happy more deserving



In January, 1866, Bishop Simpson, of the Methodist Church, startled the
country with the declaration, made at a public meeting at Cooper
Institute, that the prostitutes of New York City were as numerous as
the members of the Methodist Church. The following letter of Mr. John
A. Kennedy, Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police, furnishes the
most authentic statement of the facts of the case:

NEW YORK, _January_ 22, 1866.

'MY DEAR SIR.--Your note of to-day is before me, with the printed sheet
of the '_Great Metropolis Condsened_,' inquiring whether the figures in
the paragraph marked 'Licentiousness' can be verified. I have to say
that I have nothing in my possession to sustain such monstrous
statements. During the past fall I had a careful examination made of
the concert saloons in this city, for the purpose of using the result
in our annual report; which you will find in the leading dailies of
Friday, January 5th, instant. At that time we found eleven hundred and
ninety-one waiter girls employed in two hundred and twenty-three
concert and drinking saloons. Although the greater part of these girls
are already prostitutes, yet we have evidence that they are not all
such; but continuation at the employment is sure to make them all
alike. Previous to that I had not made any census of persons of that
character since January 24th, 1864, when the footing was as follows:

Houses of prostitution, five hundred and ninety-nine. Public
prostitutes, two thousand one hundred and twenty three. Concert saloons
of ill repute, seventy-two. The number of waiting girls was not then

The newspapers of last week, in reporting Bishop Simpson's speech,
delivered in St. Paul's Church, made him say that there are twenty
thousand prostitutes in New York. I felt it about time to correct the
impressions of such well-meaning men as he, and on Thursday last I sent
out an order, instructing a new census to be made. I have nearly all
the returns in, and I find a much less increase than I expected. A
large number who have been following the army during the war, very
naturally have gravitated to this city. Where else would they go? But
with all that, the increase is below my estimate. On the 22d day of
January, 1866, the report is as follows:

Houses of prostitution, six hundred and twenty-one. Houses of
assignation, ninety-nine. Concert saloons of ill repute, seventy-five.
Public prostitutes, two thousand six hundred and seventy. Waiter girls
in concert and drinking saloons, seven hundred and forty-seven.

You will see that houses of prostitution have increased twenty-two in
two years, and houses of assignation have decreased thirteen. Concert
saloons have increased four. Prostitutes have increased five hundred
and forty-seven. The waiter girls will be increased by the figures to
come in.

As it regards 'other women,' we have no means of knowing anything of
their number. That there are many of them cannot be disputed; the
number of houses for their accommodation tells us that; but there is no
such number as two thousand five hundred, you may depend on it, visit
those places, and of those who do, the waiter girls furnish the larger

So that, taking all the public prostitutes, and all the waiter girls in
music saloons (and these we have to a unit), there are but three
thousand three hundred.

Medical estimates are humbugs, from Dr. D. M. Reeves down to Dr.
Sanger. According to Dr. Reeves, every female in the city, over
thirteen years of age, was required to fill up his estimate of lewd
women, and Dr. Sanger is but little more reasonable.
Very respectfully, yours, JOHN A. KENNEDY.

Nearly three years have elapsed since the above letter was written, and
there can be no doubt that the interval has witnessed a very decided
increase of this species of vice. The greatest increase is, perhaps, in
the class termed by Mr. Kennedy "other women," in which are included
the women of nominal respectability, whose crime is known only to
themselves and their lovers. They are the last persons in the world one
would think of accusing, for they are not even suspected of wrong
doing. Many of them seem to be innocent young girls, others wives and
mothers of undoubted purity. Society is corrupt to its very heart in
the great city, and there are thousands of nominally virtuous women who
lead, in secret, lives of shame. The authorities cannot include this
class in their statistics, as they know nothing of them.


There are very few first-class houses of ill-fame in the city, and they
are located in the best neighborhoods. They are generally hired fully
furnished, the annual rent in some cases amounting to ten and twelve
thousand dollars. The neighbors have little or no suspicion as to their
character, which is, in such cases, known only to the police and their
frequenters. The establishment is palatial in its appointments, and is
conducted with the utmost outward propriety.

The proprietress is generally a middle-aged woman of fine personal
appearance. She has a man living with her, who passes as her husband,
in order that she may be able to show a legal protector in case of
trouble with the authorities. This couple usually assume some foreign
name, and pass themselves off upon the unsuspecting as persons of the
highest respectability.

The inmates are usually young women, or women in the prime of life.
They are carefully chosen for their beauty and charms, and are
frequently persons of education and refinement. They are required to
observe the utmost decorum in the parlors of the house, and their
toilettes are exquisite and modest. They never make acquaintances on
the street, and, indeed, have no need to do so. The women who fill
these houses are generally of respectable origin. They are the
daughters, often the wives or widows, of persons of the best social
position. Some have been drawn astray by villains; some have been
drugged and ruined, and have fled to these places to hide their shame
from their friends; some have adopted the life in order to avoid
poverty, their means having been suddenly swept away; some have entered
from motives of extravagance and vanity; some are married women, who
have been unfaithful to their husbands, and who have been deserted in
consequence; some have been ruined by the cruelty and neglect of their
husbands; some, horrible as it may seem, have been forced into such a
life by their parents; and, others, who constitute the smallest class,
have adopted the life from motives of pure licentiousness. But,
whatever may be the cause, the fact is evident to all--these places are
always full of women competent to grace the best circles of social

The visitors to these places are men of means. No others can afford to
patronize them. Besides the money paid to his companion, each man is
expected to spend a considerable amount in wine. The liquors are owned
and sold by the proprietress, her prices being generally double those
of the best Broadway wine stores. Her profits are enormous. The "first
men" of the city and country visit these places. The proportion of
married men amongst the guests is very large. Governors, Congressmen,
lawyers, judges, physicians, and, alas that it should be said, even
ministers of the Gospel, are to be seen there. Men coming to New York
from other parts of the country, seem to think themselves free from all
the restraints of morality and religion, and while here commit acts of
sin and dissipation, such as they would not dream of indulging in, in
their own communities. They fully equal and often surpass the city
population in this respect.

Great care is taken by the proprietors of these houses that the visits
of their guests shall be as private as possible. Upon ringing the bell
the visitor is admitted by a finely dressed servant, and shown into the
parlor. If he desires an interview with any particular person he is
quickly admitted to her presence. If his visit is "general," he awaits
in the parlor the entrance of the inmates of the house, who drop in at
intervals. No other gentleman is admitted to the parlor while he is
there, and in leaving the house no one is allowed to enter or look into
the parlors. If two men enter together they are thrown into the parlor
at the same time.

The earnings of the inmates are very large. They pay an extravagant
rate of board, and are expected to dress handsomely. They rarely save
any thing. They are well cared for by the proprietress as long as they
are profitable to her, but in case of sickness, or the loss of their
beauty, they are turned out of doors without the slightest hesitation.
Generally they are in debt to the proprietress at such times, and their
property is seized by her to satisfy her claims.

In entering these houses, women believe they will always be able to
keep themselves amongst the best classes of such females. They are soon
undeceived, however. The rule is so rigid that there is not more than
one exception in a thousand cases. They rarely remain in first-class
houses more than a few months, or a year at the longest. In leaving
them, they begin to go down the ladder, until they reach the dance-
houses and purlieus of the city, where disease and death in their most
horrible forms await them. All this in a few years, for the life which
such women, even the best of them, lead, is so fearfully destructive of
body and soul that a very few survive it more than five years at the
longest. The police authorities say that the first-class houses change
their inmates every few months.

Let no woman deceive herself, "_The wages of sin is death._" Once
entered upon a life of shame, however glittering it may be in the
outset, her fate is certain--unless she anticipates her final doom by
suicide. She cannot reform if she would. No one will help her back to
the paths of right. Even those who loved her best, in her virtue, will
turn from her in horror in her sin. She will be driven on by an
avenging fate, which she cannot resist if she would, until she is one
of those wretched, lost creatures, whose dens are in the purlieus of
the Five Points and Water street. There is only one means of safety.
Avoid the first step. Once place your foot in the downward path, and
you are lost. "_The Wages of sin is death_"


These establishments are better known to the general public than those
we have just described, as they are open to all persons of moderate
means. They are located in all parts of the town, many of them being in
respectable neighborhoods. They are handsomely furnished, and are
conducted in a flashy style. The inmates are those who, for various
causes, have been turned out of first-class houses, or who have never
been able to enter those establishments. They do not hesitate to
solicit custom on the streets and in the public places, though they are
not, as a general rule, obliged to do so.

This is the second step in the downward career of fallen women. From
this step the descent is rapid. The third and fourth-class houses, and
then the streets, are reached quickly, after which the dance-houses and
the Five Points hells claim their victims.


It is generally very hard to learn the true history of the lost women
of New York, for nearly all wish to make their past lot appear better
than it really was, with the melancholy hope of elevating themselves in
the estimation of their present acquaintances. It may be safely
asserted, however, that the majority of them come from the humbler
walks of life. Women of former position and refinement are the
exceptions. Poverty, and a desire to be able to gratify a love for fine
clothes, are among the chief causes of prostitution in this city. At
the same time the proprietors of houses of all classes spare no pains
to draw into their nets all the victims who will listen to them. They
have their agents scattered all over the country, who use every means
to tempt young girls to come to the great city to engage in this life
of shame. They promise them money, fine clothes, ease, and an elegant
home. The seminaries and rural districts of the land furnish a large
proportion of this class. The hotels in this city are closely watched
by the agents of these infamous establishments, especially hotels of
the plainer and less expensive kind. These harpies watch their chance,
and when they lay siege to a blooming young girl surround her with
every species of enticement. She is taken to church, to places of
amusement, or to the Park, and, in returning, a visit is paid to the
house of a friend of the harpy. Refreshments are offered, and a glass
of drugged wine plunges the victim into a stupor, from which she awakes
a ruined woman.


Some months ago, two girls, daughters of a respectable man, engaged as
foreman on Prospect Park, Brooklyn, met with an advertisement calling
for girls to learn the trade of dressmaking, in West Broadway, New
York. The two sisters in question, applied for and obtained the
situation. After being engaged there for a few days, at a salary of
three dollars a week, the woman, by whom they were employed, proposed
that during the week they should board with her. In the furtherance of
this idea, the woman visited the parents of the girls in this city, and
made the same proposition to them. Highly pleased with her agreeable
manner, and kind interest in the welfare of their daughters, the
parents acceded to her request, with the understanding that they should
return home every Saturday evening. Saturday night came, and with it
rain, but not with it the daughters. On Monday morning the woman
appeared before the anxious parents, offering as an excuse for the non-
appearance of the girls on Saturday night, that she did not deem it
prudent for them to venture out, owing to the inclemency of the
weather, and assuring the old folks that they should visit them on
Thursday night, which assurance was not fulfilled. Next morning the
father, becoming alarmed for their safety, went over to New York, and
searched for the dressmaker's residence in West Broadway, but was
unable to find it, or indeed to learn any thing of the woman. Now
becoming thoroughly aroused to the danger of their position, he
instituted a thorough search, securing the services of the New York
detective force. After a lapse of five weeks, the younger girl was
discovered in a low house in Baltic street, Brooklyn. The story was
then told the unfortunate father by his wretched daughter. After
entering the service of the woman, the sisters were held against their
will, and were subjected to the most inhuman and debasing treatment.
Finally they were separated from each other's society, and became the
inmates of dens. The woman's whereabouts is unknown to the police, and
the elder sister is still missing. The above facts are vouched for on
the most undoubted authority.


A very large number of the women engaged in this infamous business are
from New England. That section of the country is so overcrowded, and
the females are so numerous therein, that there is no room for all at
home. As a consequence hundreds come to the city every year. They come
with high hopes, but soon find it as hard, if not harder, to obtain
employment here. The runners for the houses of ill fame are always on
the watch for them, and from various causes, these girls fall victims
to them, and join the lost sisterhood. They are generally the daughters
of farmers, or working men, and when they come are fresh in
constitution and blooming in their young beauty. God pity them! These
blessings soon vanish. They dare not escape from their slavery, for
they have no means of earning a living in the great city, and they know
they would not be received at home, were their story known. Their very
mothers would turn from them with loathing. Without hope, they cling to
their shame, and sink lower and lower, until death mercifully ends
their human sufferings. As long as they are prosperous, they represent
in their letters home that they are engaged in a steady, honest
business, and the parents' fears are lulled. After awhile these letters
are rarer. Finally they cease altogether. Would a father find his child
after this, he must seek her in the foulest hells of the city.


The police are frequently called upon by persons from other parts of
the country, for aid in seeking a lost daughter, or a sister, or some
female relative. Sometimes these searches, which are always promptly
made, are rewarded with success. Some unfortunates are, in this way,
saved before they have fallen so low as to make efforts in their behalf
vain. Others, overwhelmed with despair, will refuse to leave their
shame. They cannot bear the pity or silent scorn of their former
relatives and friends, and prefer to cling to their present homes. It
is very hard for a fallen woman to retrace her steps, even if her
friends or relatives are willing to help her do so.

Last winter an old gray haired man came to the city from his farm in
New England, accompanied by his son, a manly youth, in search of his
lost daughter. His description enabled the police to recognize the girl
as one who had but recently made her appearance on the streets, and
they at once led the father and brother to the door of the house she
was living in. As they entered the well-filled parlor, the girl
recognized her father. With a cry of joy she sprang into his arms.
Lifting her tenderly, the old man carried her into the street,
exclaiming through, his tears;

"We've saved her, thank God! We've saved our Lizzie."

That night all three left the city for their distant home.

Another instance occurs to us:

A gentleman once found his daughter in one of the first-class houses of
the city, to which she had been tracked by the police. He sought her
there, and she received him with every demonstration of joy and
affection. He urged her to return home with him, promising that all
should be forgiven and forgotten, but she refused to do so, and was
deaf to all his entreaties. He brought her mother to see her, and
though the girl clung to her and wept bitterly in parting, she would
not go home. She felt that it was too late. She was lost.

Many of these poor creatures treasure sacredly the memories of their
childhood and home. They will speak of them with a calmness which shows
how deep and real is their despair. They would flee from their horrible
lives if they could, but they are so enslaved that they are not able to
do so. Their sin crushes them to the earth, and they cannot rise above


This is the name given to a row of first-class houses in West Twenty-
fifth street, all fashionable houses of prostitution. A woman came to
this city from a New England village, and was enticed into one of the
fashionable dens. She paid a visit to her home, dressed up in all her
finery. Her parents believed her a Broadway saleswoman, but to her
sisters, one by one, she confided the life of gayety and pleasure she
led, and one by one the sisters left the peaceful village, until, at
last, the whole seven sisters were domiciled in the crime-gilt palaces
in West Twenty-fifth street. Thus, one sister ruined six in her own
family; how many others in the same place is unknown.

Another instance: A woman, named----, is from Binghamton, in this
State. As a matter of course, she has correspondents in that place; she
knows all the giddy-headed girls of the town; she knows the
dissatisfied wives. The result is her house is a small Binghamton.
Thus, one girl from a village may ruin a dozen; and it is in this way
they so readily find the home they are in search of in a strange city.


A peculiarity of the Twenty-ninth Police Precinct of the city, in which
the majority of the better class of houses are located, "is the large
number of lady boarders, who do nothing, apparently, for a living. They
live in furnished rooms, or they may board in respectable families.
They leave their cards with the madame of the house, together with
their photograph. They live within a few minutes' call, and when a
gentleman enters the parlor he has a few minutes' chat with the madame,
who hands him the album. He runs his eye over the pictures, makes his
choice, and a messenger is dispatched for No. 12 or 24. These are what
may be termed the day ladies, or outside boarders. Some of them are
married, living with their husbands, who know nothing of what is going
on, and it may be some of them have shown the readers of the _Sun_ how
cheap they can keep house, dress well, and put money in the bank
beside, on a given weekly income of their husband. Those ladies who
hire furnished rooms all dine at the restaurants, but they are never
found soliciting men in the street. True, in the restaurant they may
accept a recognition, but a man has to be careful what he is about."


"Twenty years ago, when Matsell was Chief of Police, he used to try and
break up the most notorious houses by stationing a policeman at the
door, and when any one went in or out, the light from a bull's eye
lantern was thrown in the face of the passer out or in. That has never
been effective. Captain Speight tried it in the case of Mrs.----, who
keeps the most splendidly furnished house in West Twenty-fifth street.
She owns the house, and has a few boarders who pay her fifty dollars a
week for board, and ten dollars a bottle for their wine, and twenty-
five per cent, on the profits of her boarders. The attempt was made to
oust this woman, but she very politely told the captain that he might
honor her as long as he pleased with the policeman and his lantern, but
she could stand it as long as he could; she owned the house, and she
meant to live in it; nothing could be proven against it, and they dare
not arrest her. The consequence was that after a time the bull's eye
was withdrawn."


The latest ruse adopted to obtain fresh country or city girls is to
publish an advertisement in the papers, for 'a young lady of some
accomplishments to act as a companion for a lady about to travel
abroad. The applicant must have some knowledge of French, be a good
reader, have a knowledge and taste for music, and be of a lively
disposition.' Such an advertisement brought a young lady from Newark to
a certain house in Twenty-fifth street. She had not been long in the
parlor until she saw at a glance the character of the house. Both then
spoke in pretty plain terms. The applicant was given a week to think
over it. She returned at the end of a week and voluntarily entered the
house. She remained in it six months. Disgusted with the business, she
returned to her parents--who believe to this day that she was all this
time abroad--and afterwards married a highly respectable gentleman, and
she is now supposed to be a virtuous woman.

"A beautiful young girl of seventeen, from Danbury, Connecticut when
taken from one of these houses by her father, told him, in the station-
house, that he might take her home, but she would run away the first
chance. Her only excuse was: 'Mother is cross, and home is an old,
dull, dead place.'"


On the 1st of December, 1857, a funeral wended its slow passage along
the crowded Broadway--for a few blocks, at least--challenging a certain
share of the attention of the promenaders of that fashionable
thoroughfare. There were but two carriages following the hearse, and
the hearse itself contained all that remained of a young woman--a girl
who had died in her eighteenth year, and whose name on earth had been
Mary R----.

Mary R----, was the daughter of a poor couple in the interior of the
State of New York. She was a girl of exquisite grace and beauty, but
her life had been one of toil until her sixteenth year, when she
attracted the attention of the son of a city millionaire, whose country
seat was in the neighborhood. He was pleased with her beauty, and she
simple and confiding, gave her heart to him without a struggle. She
trusted him, and fell a victim to his arts. He took her to New York
with him, and placed her in a neat little room in Sixth Avenue.

She was a 'soiled dove,' indeed, but the gentlest and dearest, and most
devoted of 'doves,' 'soiled,' not by herself, but by others--soiled
externally, but not impure within. There are many such doves as she--
poor creatures to be pitied, not to be commended, not at all to be
imitated, but not to be harshly or wholly condemned--more sinned
against than sinning.

For a while Mary R----'s life in New York was a paradise--at least it
was a paradise to her. She lived all day in her cosy little apartment,
did her own little housework, cooked her own little dinner, sung her
own little songs, and was as happy as a bird, thinking all the while of
him, the man she loved--the man whose smile was all in all to her of
earth. At night she would receive her beloved in her best dress and
sweetest smile; and if he deigned to walk with her around the block, or
take her with him to the Central Park, she would be supremely blessed,
and dance around him with delight. She cost nothing, or next to
nothing; her wants were simple, her vanity and love of amusement were
vastly below the average of her sex, she only needed love, and there is
an old saying that 'love is cheap.' But, alas! there is no more
expensive luxury than love--for love requires what few men really
possess, a heart--and this article of a heart was precisely what the
merchant's son did not possess. In time, he wearied of this young girl
and her affection; her tenderness became commonplace; besides he had
discovered attractions elsewhere. And so he determined 'to end with
Mary,' and he ended indeed. Though he knew that she worshipped the very
ground that he trod on, though he knew that every unkind word he
uttered went through her heart as would a stab though he knew that the
very idea of his leaving her would blast her happiness like a lightning
stroke; yet he boldly announced to her that their intimacy must cease,
that 'he must leave her. True, he would see her comfortably provided
for, during a while at least, until she could find another protector,'
etc., etc.

"The agonized Mary could listen to naught more. For the first time in
her life, out of the anguish and true love of her heart, she reproached
the man to whom her every thought had been devoted--she reminded him of
all his promises of affection, all his pledges of passion, she clung to
him, and avowed by all that she considered holy, _himself_, that she
would not let him go. In brief, she raised what 'fast men' style a
scene, and a scene was just one of those things which irritated the
merchant's son beyond his powers of control.

"The scoundrel, for such he was, though by birth, education, and
position a gentleman, irritated at her entreaties, vexed with himself,
despising the meanness of his own soul, and hating her for revealing it
to him, raised his arm, and despite her look of love and sorrow,
absolutely struck her to the earth. The poor girl never shrieked, never
resisted, she even kissed, with an almost divinely tender forgiveness,
his hand--his hand who struck her--and then fell to the floor of her
pleasant, though humble little room, insensible.

"With a curse, half levelled at her and half at himself, the false
'lover' departed. The young millionaire never looked upon Mary R----'s
face again. In three days there was no Mary R----'s face to look at;
for the 'soiled dove' within that time had died--not from the blow, oh,
no--_that_ was a trifle; but from the _unkindness_ of it; not from a
fractured limb, or from a ruptured bloodvessel, but from a broken
heart. She was buried at the expense of the woman of whom her destroyer
had rented the little apartment on Sixth Avenue, where she had passed
her happiest days and her last. The rich merchant's son heard of her
death with a half sigh and then a shrug; but if ever the blood of a
human being lay upon the head of another, that of poor Mary R--lies
upon the head of the rich merchant's son, and will be required of him."

There are several associations in the city, whose object is to rescue
lost women from their lives of shame. Prominent amongst these is the
Midnight Mission.


This institution is located on Amity street, and is open at all hours,
to all who seek its doors voluntarily, or are directed thither. The
managers in a recent report, speak of their success as follows:

"That the managers have reason to believe that more than sixty women
have been benefited through their endeavors recently, many of whom have
abandoned their life of shame, and a large proportion are already
restored to their friends, or have been placed in respectable
situations, where they are earning an honest living. Twenty are now in
charge, in process of industrial, moral, and religious training,
preparatory to taking positions of usefulness and respectability. Could
they be seen by the public, as we see them, after the work of the day
is ended, grouped together in conversation, in innocent recreation, or
in devotion, their faces already beaming with the light of hope for
this life and the life to come, surely we should need no other argument
to induce Christian people, with kind words and abounding gifts, to
speed us in our work of love."

We would not upon any consideration weaken one single effort in behalf
of these poor creatures, but we cannot disguise the fact that but few
of this class are saved. Women who enter the downward path rarely
retrace their steps.



There are over one hundred houses of assignation in New York, known to
the police. Besides these, there are places, used as such, which the

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