Lights and Shadows of New York Life - or, the Sights and Sensations of the Great City
by James D. McCabe
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17     Next Part
Home - Random Browse


There are two large reservoirs at the city end of the bridge, the "Storage Reservoir," and the "High Service," the latter of which is designed for supplying the elevated section of Washington Heights. From here to the distributing reservoirs in the Central Park, which have already been described, the distance is two and a quarter miles. The distributing reservoir for the principal part of the city is on Fifth Avenue, between Fortieth and Forty-second streets. It covers about four acres of ground, and is built of granite. It is forty feet above the street, is divided into two parts, and will hold 20,000,000 gallons of water. It is exactly forty-one miles from the Croton Lake.


The daily flow of water through the aqueduct is 60,000,000 gallons, its full capacity. The reservoirs hold over 2,000,000,000 gallons, or about fifteen days, supply. Nearly four hundred miles of main pipes distribute the water through the city, and supply it to 67,000 dwelling houses and stores, 1624 manufactories, 290 hospitals, prisons, schools, and public buildings, 307 churches, and 14 markets. There are 72 drinking hydrants, and a number of ornamental fountains in the city. The lakes and fountains in the Central Park are all formed by the Croton water, which is also supplied to the State Prison at Sing Sing, and the Institutions on Blackwell's, Randall's, and Ward's islands. The Croton River is one of the purest streams in the world. The water is bright and sparkling, and there is no sediment perceptible to the naked eye. Actual analysis has shown that the amount of impurity during an entire summer was but 4.45 grains in a gallon, or 7.63 parts in 100,000 parts.

The original cost of the aqueduct and reservoirs was about $9,000,000. Since then the increased supply, the new reservoirs, pipes, etc., have made the total amount upward of $40,000,000. The total receipts from the water tax since the opening of the aqueduct have amounted to about $22,000,000. The tax at present amounts to about $1,232,000 annually.


The suburbs of New York are very attractive, and excursions to nearly every point within reach of the city are made every day during the summer months. The fares are low, and a day may be pleasantly spent on the water by leaving the city about 8 o'clock in the morning and returning at 6 or 7 P.M.

One of the pleasantest excursions of this kind, is up the Hudson. One may go as far as West Point or Poughkeepsie, and enjoy the magnificent scenery of the famous river, or he may leave the boat at West Point, and spend an hour or two at that place before the arrival of the down boat. The steamers on the Hudson are the best of their kind, and afford every opportunity for enjoyment.

Staten Island, in New York Bay, seven miles from the city, and in full sight of it, offers many attractions to the pleasure seeker. There are several lines of steamers plying between the city and the towns on that island, and making hourly trips. The sail across the bay is delightful, and the fare is only ten or twelve cents each way.

Another trip, and one which should never be omitted by strangers visiting the city, is from Peck Slip up the East River to One-hundred-and-thirtieth street, or Harlem. The route lies along the entire East River front of the city, with Brooklyn, Williamsburg, and Long Island City on the opposite shores. Blackwell's, Randall's, and Ward's islands, with their magnificent edifices, are passed, and Hell Gate is an additional attraction. One is given a better idea of the size of New York and Brooklyn in this way, than in almost any other. Not the least of the attractions is the United States Navy Yard, at Brooklyn, an admirable view of which may be obtained from the deck of the steamer in passing it. The boats run hourly from Peck Slip and Harlem. The fare is ten cents each way. In the summer time there is a line of steamers plying between Harlem and the High Bridge, and connecting with the Peck Slip boats.


The towns on Long Island Sound are also connected with New York by lines of steamers. These are among the pleasant objective points for excursionists within reach of the city.

The old route to Philadelphia, by way of South Amboy, offers another attraction. The boat is a fine and powerful steamer, and makes two trips daily between New York and South Amboy. Sometimes the route lies through the picturesque Kill Van Kull, or Staten Island Sound, or through the Narrows, into the Outer Bay, and around Staten Island into Raritan Bay.

[Picture: WEST POINT.]

The famous resorts of Rockaway and Coney Island are reached in from one to two hours by steamer. At either of these places a day may be spent on the sea shore. The surf-bathing is excellent at both, and each may also be reached by a railway. Of late years, Coney Island has become a favorite resort of the roughs of New York and Brooklyn, and, as a consequence, is not as attractive to respectable visitors as formerly.

Perhaps the pleasantest of all the excursions, except the trip up the Hudson, is the sail from the city to Sandy Hook and back on the Long Branch boats. These are magnificent steamers, and make several trips each day during the summer season. They connect at Sandy Hook with the railway to Long Branch. One may leave the city in the morning, spend the day at the Branch, enjoy a bath in the surf, and reach the New York pier again by 8 o'clock in the evening. The round trip fare is about two dollars. The boats are provided with every luxury, and are famous for their excellent table. A good band accompanies each, and discourses delicious music during the sail. The route lies down the harbor through the Narrows, and down the Lower Bay to Sandy Hook, in full sight of the Atlantic, and near enough to it to feel the deep swelling of its restless breast. Those who do not care to visit Long Branch may make the round trip in four hours.


In the streets in the vicinity of the water, there are many buildings used as "Sailors' Boarding-houses." One would suppose that poor Jack needed a snug resting-place after his long and stormy voyages, but it is about the last thing he finds in New York. The houses for his accommodation are low, vile places. They are located in the filthiest sections of the city, and are never clean. Jack, however, is used to hard fare. He has spent six months, or it may be two years, in the damp and cheerless forecastle, and he will not grumble at the aspect of the only quarters available to him on shore. He has crowded with twenty men and boys into a space much smaller than the chamber assigned him, and he does not object to having half a dozen room mates. The bed is a wretched cot, but it is better than a bunk or a hammock, and Jack is not so used to cleanliness as to make him very fastidious.

The boarding-house has a flashy air. There are bright curtains at the windows, and the entire front is usually painted some gaudy color, and is adorned with a sign, with the name of the establishment in gilt letters. "The Sailor's Retreat," "Our House," "The Sailor's Welcome Home," "The Jolly Tar," and "The Flowing Sea Inn" are favorite names with these places. The entrance is generally low and narrow, and conducts the visitor to the main room, which is often the bar, of the house. This is a small, low-pitched apartment. The floor is sanded, and the ceiling is lined with tissue paper pendants cut in various designs. The mantelpiece is adorned with various seamen's trophies and curiosities from foreign lands, the majority of which have been stolen from the poor fellows, who brought them home for a different purpose. The bar is adorned with a multitude of bottles, decanters, and glasses, and the liquors give no indication to the eye of their deadly properties. A person accustomed to cross the ocean in the luxurious cabin of a Cunarder, would not find the place very attractive, but to Jack, who has never known anything better than the forecastle, it has many attractions, and he falls an easy victim to it.

The landlords of these places are simply the meanest of thieves and bullies. They charge a uniform price of about seven dollars per week, for which they give a mean bed in a dirty room occupied by five or six other persons, and three indifferent meals a day. They do not, however, reap their profits from their legitimate business. Their principal earnings are gained by their crimes.

They keep their runners in the harbor on the watch for ships coming in from long voyages. These board the vessels as soon as they reach the bay, and at once begin to extol the merits of their several establishments. They are adepts at their art, and before the vessel has cast anchor at her berth, they have secured one or more men apiece for their houses. They never leave them after this, but "stick to them" until they receive their wages, after which they conduct them to the boarding-house, and turn them over to the landlord. If the sailor is unwilling to promise to become a guest at the boarding-house, the runner has but little trouble in inducing him to "drop in and look at it." The great object is to get him within its doors. The first sense of freedom from the confinements of the ship is very grateful to Jack, and puts him in a good humor with himself and everybody else. This renders him the easier a victim.

When he has been brought within the portals of the boarding-house, the next step is to induce him to drink. Sailors are very tough, but even they cannot stand up against the effects of the poisonous liquors sold here. If the landlord is not able to induce the new-comer to drink, the "Jackal," or the porter, is called in. Jack never suspects the porter of any design upon him, but believes that the landlord is his only enemy, and the "Jackal" is usually successful. If it is found necessary to make quick work of the case, the liquor is drugged; but, as a general rule, it is poisonous enough to stupefy even a strong man in a very short while. When the victim is fairly helpless, he is conducted to his room. There may be other "boarders" in this apartment, but they are generally too drunk to notice what is going on. The doors are utterly without fastenings, and are oiled to prevent them from creaking. When all is quiet, and the victim is plunged in a heavy slumber, the "Jackal" creeps up the stairs, enters the room, and robs the poor fellow of whatever money or valuables he may have on his person. In the morning, when the sailor awakens, sick and disheartened, he discovers his loss. The landlord is full of sympathy for him, and is indignant that such an outrage should have been perpetrated beneath his roof. He has the house searched, and, if the sailor cannot be made drunk again, goes through the farce of causing the arrest of a "stool-pigeon," who is of course discharged for lack of evidence against him. Usually, however, the sailor is made drunk, and is gotten to sea again on a long voyage as soon as possible.

The various methods of forcing a sailor to sea are called "Shanghaiing." The practice is resorted to by landlords, to enable them to complete the crews which they have contracted to furnish to vessels. The owners and masters of these vessels are fully aware of the infamous manner in which men are procured for them, but say they must either connive at it, or let their vessels go to sea shorthanded. In "Shanghaiing" a sober man, resort is had to false promises. He is induced to go on board of a vessel, "to see how he likes her." He is then detained by force until the ship has left port. His true name is not entered on the list presented at the Custom House on the day before sailing, but he is passed under a fictitious name. When the wretches who carry on this business are very much pressed for men, they do not hesitate to waylay sailors, knock them senseless, and convey them on board vessels in this condition. They are not particular as to the qualifications of the men they ship as "able-bodied and thorough seamen." They sometimes abduct men who have never trod the deck of a ship before. During the war the notorious Thomas Hadden, of 374 Water street, induced a poor tailor to go on board of a ship by telling him that the crew wanted their clothes mended, and assured him that the "job" would give him employment for several days, and amply repay him for his trouble. The tailor, upon going on board, was at once set to work in the forecastle on a lot of dilapidated jackets, and Mr. Hadden at once went ashore. Immediately the cables were cast off, and the ship was towed out into the stream by a tug which had been held in readiness. The unsuspecting tailor continued his work, never noticing the motion of the ship, and it was not until she had crossed the bar, and gotten to sea, that he was aroused by the rough voice of the mate, commanding him to go to his duty on deck. Then, to his horror, he found that he was on his way to Canton. He returned, after a voyage of two years, and at once took measures to bring Hadden to justice. The wretch escaped, however, and was not seen again in Water street for three years. Mr. Hadden is now serving out a term of ten years imprisonment in the New Jersey Penitentiary, for grand larceny.

Usually, however, "Shanghaiing" is practised upon drunken sailors only. They are made drunk, as has been stated, immediately after the discovery of the loss of their wages, and are kept so until an opportunity presents itself for sending them to sea. Thus they are gotten rid of, care being taken to ship them only on voyages of two and three years duration. The landlords receive a premium on the men furnished by them. They also make out fictitious claims against the poor fellows, and pocket the three months' wages advanced by the owners or masters of the vessels on which the unfortunates are shipped.


Thus the sailor is plundered, made drunk, prevented from enjoying any other society on shore but that of thieves and the lowest prostitutes. It frequently happens that the poor fellow never receives the benefit of a single penny of his earnings, and never spends more than a week or ten days ashore between his voyages. Efforts have been made by conscientious ship-owners to put a stop to the outrages of the landlords, but each one has failed. The wretches have banded together, and have prevented sailors from shipping, and in the end the ship-owners have been compelled to abandon the sailor to the mercy of his tyrants. Only a law of Congress, regulating sailors' boarding houses, according to the system now in use in England, will remedy the evil. Efforts are now being made to secure the passage, during the present session of Congress, of a bill, entitled the "Shipping Commissioners' Bill," which has received the sanction of the shipping merchants of New York, and which will effectually remedy the evils we have described.

The merchants of the city have also organized a "Seamen's Exchange," the objects of which are thus set forth by the Association:

"The objects of this Association shall be the moral, mental, and social improvement of seamen, to elevate their character and efficiency as a class, and to protect them from impositions and abuses at home and abroad.

"To build up such an organization of respectable seamen as will command the respect of the community, enable ship-owners to protect themselves from the imposition of worthless and disorderly characters claiming to be seamen, but disgracing the name, and secure for their vessels reliable and efficient crews; while at the same time the seaman will be enabled to select good ships and good officers, and thus secure good treatment."

They propose to attain these objects by the adoption of the following measures:

"To provide an exchange, reading-room, library, and savings-bank which shall be open to all seamen on the payment of a small annual subscription. To issue certificates of membership, and of character and capacity. To assert and maintain perfect liberty in the selection of boarding-houses, shipping-offices, and voyages. To refuse to pay or to receive 'bonus-money' for ships, or 'blood-money' for men, by which custom both shipowners and seamen are sufferers. To supply vessels with crews without the intervention of any shipping-master should it become necessary. To discourage the system of advanced wages as the source of many evils and but few benefits. To keep a record of the name, age, character, and capacity, so far as can be ascertained, of every member of this Association; also, of the vessels in port, their class, owners or agents, and the voyages on which they are bound. To establish means by which seamen can receive afternoon and evening lessons in the common English branches and navigation. To encourage and assist every sailor in his efforts to improve his character and to save his hard-earned money for the benefit of himself and his family, and on all suitable occasions to give him such advice and information as his circumstances may seem to require."

Our engraving presents a view of the building now in course of erection by the Association.


The ballet seems at last to have found a home in New York, and to have become one of the permanent institutions of the great city,—witness the triumphs of the Black Crook, of Humpty Dumpty, and the spectacular plays of the Grand Opera House. It must be confessed that it is well done here. The Black Crook carries off the palm. Its ballets are the best arranged and the best executed, and its dancers are as good looking and attractive as ballet girls ever are.

There are several hundred girls and women in New York who earn their living by dancing in the ballets of the various theatres. The Black Crook alone employs about one hundred. Those who have seen these damsels in their glory, in the full glare of the foot and calcium lights, amidst the most gorgeous surroundings, and under the influence of delicious music, may have come to the conclusion that such a life must be very pleasant. They little know the experience of a ballet girl. "It's a hard life," said one of them, not long since, "and very little fun in it, if you're decent."

The ballet girl always appears on the bills as a miss, but some of them are married, and have to support helpless or worthless husbands. They are of all nationalities. The Premieres are generally French or Italian—at least on the bills. These are usually excellent dancers, and are fond of their art. They are well paid, and as a rule save their money. Mdlle. Bonafanti received $150 per week from the managers of Niblo's Theatre. Mdlle. Morlacchi also receives large sums. She is a sensible woman, and has invested her earnings in a pretty home in New England, where she spends her summers.

[Picture: THE BALLET.]

Not more than one or two in the same establishment receive such high pay, however. The salaries, as a rule, are small. The Secondas at Niblo's, the home of the Black Crook, receive from $50 to $100 per week. There are twelve coryphees who earn from $25 to $30 per week. Then follow the first, second, and third lines of the ballet, with wages ranging from $5 to $30 per week. The girls who march in the processions of female soldiers receive about $8 per week. The costumes, armor, etc., are furnished by the theatre, but there are many articles of dress which the girls are obliged to furnish at their own expense.

The ballet girl rises about eight o'clock in the morning, and is off to rehearsal by nine. A duller, more dreary sight than a rehearsal of a ballet by daylight, and in plain dress, cannot be imagined. The theatre is dark and gloomy, the stage not much lighter, and everything is in confusion. There is a smell of escaping gas in all parts of the building. Scattered about the stage are a number of girls and women in half skirts, with fleshings on their legs, and some of them with woollen hose drawn over the fleshings to keep them warm. They are terribly jaded and hollow eyed, and they seem incapable of being interested in anything. A very different set from the smiling, graceful houris of the evening before. At a given signal the music begins, and the girls commence a series of capers which seem utterly ridiculous. It is downright hard work for the girls, however; and those who are not engaged in leaping, or pirouetting, or wriggling, are leaning against the scenery and panting with fatigue. The leader of the ballet storms and swears at them, and is made frantic by every little mistake. The rehearsal occupies several hours. If there is a matinee that day, it is kept up until it is time for the girls to dress for that performance. Between the close of the matinee, and the opening of the evening performance, there is not much time for the tired girls to rest.

Upon assembling for the evening performance, the girls are dressed by a practical costumer, whose business it is to see that each one wears her costume properly. This arranged, they pass down to the painter's room, where their cheeks, ears, and nostrils are "touched up" by an artist. Their hair is dressed by another artist, and every defect of face and figure is overcome as far as is possible. Thus adorned, the dull and jaded girl of the morning becomes, under the magical influence of the footlights, a dazzling sprite, and the object of the admiration of the half-grown boys and brainless men who crowd the front rows of orchestra seats.

The performance is not over until near midnight. Then the dancer must change her dress, fold her stage dress carefully away, make up her bundle, and set out for home. The principal dancers, such as Bonafanti, and Morlacchi, of course, have an easier time than the ordinary ballet girls, but all work hard.

It is commonly supposed that the ballet-dancer is of necessity an impure woman. Too many of them are; but, as a class, they are much abused. They work hard, and do not have much leisure time, and deserve more sympathy than reproach. Men, especially, think that, because they appear on the stage in a state of semi-nudity, they are immodest and of easy virtue; and in New York there is a class of men, of nominal respectability, who appear to regard ballet-dancers as their legitimate prey. They exert all their arts to lead these poor girls astray, and are too often successful. There is not a ballet-dancer in the city but can tell many a tale of persecutions of this kind; and if ever the devil employed a legion of emissaries to do his work, they must be the grinning, leering men who occupy the front seats in the theatres during the ballet performances, and who spend their leisure time in seeking to compass the ballet-girl's ruin.

The ballet-girl, says Olive Logan, "is a dancer, and loves dancing as an art. That pose into which she now throws herself with such abandon, is not a vile pandering to the tastes of those giggling men in the orchestra stalls, but is an effort, which, to her idea, is as loving a tribute to a beloved art as a painter's dearest pencil touch is to him. I have seen these women burst into tears on leaving the stage, because they had observed men laughing among themselves, rolling their eyes about, and evidently making unworthy comments on the pretty creatures before them, whose whole heart was for the hour lovingly given over to Terpsichore. 'It is they who are bad,' said Mdlle. B—- to me, the other night; 'it is not we.'"

The majority of the ballet-dancers dwell with their parents, but many of those in the upper ranks of the profession like the freedom of Bleecker street, and reside in that thoroughfare. Thompson street also contains several boarding-houses patronized by dancers and burlesque actresses. A writer in the New York World gives the following clever sketch of the more prosperous ballet-girl at home:

"It was strictly a theatrical boarding-house, and all the young ladies were dancers. 'It would never do to have anybody else here. Mrs. Sullivan is Miss Jones's dresser at the "Adelphi," and she has kept house here some years. Her husband was an actor, and he went to California and never came back. She's a dear good woman, and treats us like her daughters.'

"'How many of you board here?'

"'Thirteen. All of them are high-priced dancers—no ballet and utility girls here. No, sir! We pay $10 to $15 a week for board. She treats us like her own family.'

"Miss Bell then suggested a tour of the house, offering to be the guide of such an exploration. Tripping down stairs with the elastic hop of a bird, she knocked at the door of the lower front chamber, and immediately ushered her companion into the room. It was large and elegant, and in exquisite order. One really beautiful girl was driving a sewing-machine before a window with the industry of a seamstress. Another was engaged in trimming a tiny pair of satin boots with beads of every color. She was short, small, and swarthy, her chief beauty being a languishing pair of black eyes. A third lay at full length on a small bed in an alcove, reading Harper's Bazaar with the avidity of a milliner, or a lady of fashion. She was exceedingly pretty and ladylike. Two of them wore the inevitable white wrapper, while the third was fully dressed in a simple gray walking-suit. The lovely creature at the sewing-machine was Miss Ethel Lynn of the 'Lyceum;' the swarthy girl was Miss Lottie Taylor of the 'Gaiety,' and the third was another Miss Lynn, pseudo-sister of Ethel, with whom she 'worked,' but in reality a no-relation named Ellis. The three girls smiled prettily enough on learning their visitor's object, and the recumbent beauty regretted that it was impossible, under the circumstances, to publish a picture of the scene.

"The next room was occupied by 'a very great swell,' the premiere danseuse of the 'Lyceum'. It contained a superb piano littered with stage properties, dresses, and general odds and ends. The furniture was of splendid quality, and large tinted photographs of prominent French 'professionals,' including an unusually prepossessing likeness of Schneider, decked the walls. Satin tights, exquisitely pink, hung out of a half-open trunk. The danseuse was seated at a small table, her own profuse golden hair coiled after an indolent fashion, while her diamonded fingers were hard at work saturating some superb yellow tresses in a saucerful of colorless fluid, a bleaching agent for continuing the lustre of blond hair. A clamorous parrot trolled a bar or two of 'Un Mari Sage' overhead, and a shaggy poodle lay couched in leonine fashion at her feet, munching a handsome though fractured fan. A well-directed kick of her dainty little slippered foot sent the sacrilegious animal flying on the entrance of the two invaders. This was Mademoiselle Helene Devereux, a young lady who twirled her toes for a salary scarcely less than that of the President of the United States. French by birth, she spoke English with a pure accent. She seemed much amused at the errand of her masculine visitor.

"You want to see a premiere at home? Look at me now, dyeing my own hair. And see that dress there. I made it every bit myself. I get up every morning at 8. Some of the other lazy things in the house never think of breakfast till 10. But I turn out at 8; eat some breakfast; do all my mending; sort out my washing; go to rehearsal; practise new dances; come home to lunch; drive out to the Park; eat my dinner; go to the theatre; eat my supper, and go straight to bed. Can anybody live more properly? I don't think it possible. Mrs. Sullivan says I'm a model. I don't give her the least bit of trouble, and she wouldn't part with me for anything. You ought to have been here just now, and seen little Vulfi of the "Melodeon." She makes $100 a night, and yet she doesn't dress any more stylishly than Mrs. Sullivan; and she never bought a jewel in her life. She supports a mother, and sends a brother to college in Florence. You people think we are fast. That's all nonsense. It is only the little dancers, la canaille, who can afford to be dissipated. I can't, I know that. I'm too tired after the theatre to think of going out on a spree, as they call it. Besides, it doesn't do for a dancer to be too cheap. It hurts her business.'

"'Devereux's nice, isn't she?' said Miss Bell. 'She's very good, and she's plucky. A fellow once followed her home from rehearsal, chirping to her all the way. She said nothing, but went right on into the livery stable next door. The fellow went in after her, and she snatched a carriage whip out of the office, and, oh my! didn't she thrash him? Nobody interfered, and she whipped him till her arm ached. Ever since then she's been receiving dreadful letters, and so has Mrs. Sullivan. She can't find out who sends them, and she's never seen the fellow again.'"



Poverty is a terrible misfortune in any city. In New York it is frequently regarded as a crime. But whether the one or the other, it assumes here proportions which it does not reach in other American communities. The city is overrun with those who are classed as paupers, and in spite of the great efforts made to relieve them, their suffering is very great.

The deserving poor are numerous. They have been brought to their sad condition by misfortune. A laboring man may die and leave a widow with a number of small children dependent on her exertions. The lot of such is very hard. Sickness may strike down a father or mother, and thus deprive the remaining members of a family of their accustomed support, or men and women may be thrown out of work suddenly, or may be unable to procure employment. Again, a man may bring himself and his family to want by drunkenness. If the children are too young to earn their bread, the support of the family falls upon the wife. Whatever may be the cause of the misfortune, the lot of the poor in New York is very hard. Their homes are the most wretched tenement houses, and they are compelled to dwell among the most abandoned and criminal part of the population. No wonder poverty is so much dreaded here. The poor man has little, if any, chance of bettering his condition, and he is gradually forced down lower and lower in the scale of misery, until death steps in to relieve him, or he takes refuge in suicide.


The Missionaries are constant in their labors among the poor. They shrink from no work, are deterred by no danger, but carry their spiritual and temporal relief into places from which the dainty pastors of fashionable churches shrink with disgust. They not only preach the Gospel to the poor, who would never hear it but for them, but they watch by the bed-sides of the sick and the dying, administer the last rites of religion to the believing pauper or the penitent criminal, and offer to the Great Judge the only appeal for mercy that is ever made in behalf of many a soul that dies in its sins. There is many a wretched home into which these men have carried the only joy that has ever entered its doors. Nor are they all men, for many of the most effective Missionaries are gentle and daintily nurtured women. A part of the Missionary's work is to distribute Bibles, tracts, and simple religious instruction. These are simple little documents, but they do a deal of good. They have reformed drunkards, converted the irreligious, shut the mouth of the swearer, and have brought peace to more than one heart. The work is done so silently and unpretendingly that few but those engaged in it know how great are its effects. They are encouraged by the evidences which they have, and continue their work gladly.

Thanks to the Missionaries, many of the deserving poor have been brought under the constant care of the Mission Establishments, from which they receive the assistance they need. Yet there are many who cannot be reached, or at least cannot be aided effectively. The officers of the Howard Mission relate many touching incidents of the suffering that has come under their notice.

There was among the inmates of the Mission, about a year ago, a girl named Rose —-. She was ten years old, and was so lame that she was unable to walk without crutches. When she became old enough to do anything, her mother, a drunken and depraved woman, sent her on the streets to sweep the crossings and beg. She managed to secure a little money, which she invested in "songs." She paid three-quarters of a cent for each "song," and sold them at a cent apiece. With her earnings she supported her mother. Their home was the back room of a cellar, into which no light ever shone, and their bed was a pile of rags. To reach this wretched spot, the little girl was compelled to pass through the front cellar, which was one of the vilest and most disgusting dens in the city.

The mother at length fell ill, and the child in despair applied to the Howard Mission for aid, which she received. Food and clothing were given to the mother, but they were of little use to her, as she died within two days. The breath had scarcely left her body, when the wretches who occupied the outer cellar stripped her of all her clothing, and left her naked. She was wrapped in an old sheet, put into a pine box, nailed up and buried in the potter's field, without the pretence of a funeral.

The little girl, now left alone, succeeded in obtaining some sewing. She worked on one occasion from Tuesday until Saturday, making eleven dozen leaves for trimming ladies' velvet cloaks. She furnished her own thread, and paid her own car fare. She received eight cents a dozen for the leaves, or eighty-eight cents in all, or less than the thread and car fare had actually cost her. The officers of the Howard Mission now came to her aid, and gave her a home in their blessed haven of rest.

One of the evening papers, about a year ago, contained the following "Incident of City Life:"

"In a cellar, No. 91 Cherry street, we found an Irish woman with five children, the oldest probably ten years old. Her husband had been out of work for nearly six months, and was suffering severely from bronchitis. There was no appearance of liquor about the place, and the Missionary who had visited them often said she was sure they did not drink. The woman was suffering severely from heart disease, and had a baby three weeks old. But what a place for a baby! There were two windows, two feet by two feet, next to the street, so splashed on the outside and stained by the dust and mud that they admitted but little light. A tidy housewife might say, Why don't the woman wash them? How can she stop to wash windows, with a baby three weeks old and four helpless little ones besides, crying around her with hunger and cold? The floor had no carpet. An old stove, which would not draw on account of some defect in the chimney of the house, had from time to time spread its clouds of smoke through the cellar—the only room—even when the baby was born. A few kettles, etc., stood around the floor, some crumbs of bread were on a shelf, but no sign of meat or vegetables. A wash-tub, containing half-washed clothing, stood near the middle of the room; there was a table, and a bedstead stood in a corner pretty well furnished—the bed clothing the gift of charity. In this the father, mother, babe, and perhaps a little boy two years old, slept. But the other children? O, they had some old bundles of rags on the floor, and here they were compelled to lie like pigs, with little or nothing to cover them. When it rained, the water from the street poured into this hole, and saturated the rags on which the children slept, and they had to lie there like poor little drowned rats, shivering and wailing till morning came, when they could go out and gather cinders enough to make a fire. The privilege of living in this place cost five dollars per month. And yet this woman was willing to talk about God, and believed in his goodness. She believed that he often visited that place. Yes, he does go down there when the good Miss —- from the Mission descends the slimy steps."


"I have been astounded," said a city clergyman to the writer, "to find so much genuine piety in the wretched places I visit. A few nights ago I was called to see a woman who was very ill. The messenger conducted me to a miserable cellar, where, on a bed of rags, I found a woman, about sixty years old, gasping for breath. She greeted me with feverish anxiety, and asked me if I thought it possible for her to get well; I told her I did not know, and as she seemed very ill, I sent the man who had been my conductor, to the nearest police station, to ask for medical aid. I asked her if she wished to live, she answered, 'No, unless it be God's will that I should.' Well, the reply startled me, for the tone was one of unquestioned resignation, and I had not expected to discover that virtue here. In reply to my questions she told me her story—a very common one—of a long life of bitter poverty, following close on a few years of happiness and comfort at the beginning of her womanhood. Her trial had been very hard, but she managed by God's grace to keep her soul pure and her conscience free from reproach.

"In a little while the physician I had sent for came in. He saw her condition at a glance, and turning to me said, in a low tone, that she would not live through the night, that she was literally worn out. As low as he spoke, she overheard him. She clasped her bony hands exultantly, her poor wan face gleamed with joy, and she burst out in her thin, weak voice, into the words of the hymn:

"'Happy soul! thy days are ended, Leave thy trials here below: Go, by angel guards attended, To the breast of Jesus, go!'

"Well, she died that night, and I am sure she is in heaven now."

Great efforts are made by the organized charities of the city to relieve the sufferings of the deserving poor. Prominent among these charities is the "Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor." The object of the Society is to help them by enabling them to help themselves and gradually to lift them up out of the depths of poverty. The city is divided into small districts, each of which is in charge of a visitor, whose duty it is to seek out the deserving poor. All the assistance is given through these visitors, and nothing is done, except in extreme cases, until the true condition of the applicant is ascertained. Money is never given, and only such supplies as are not likely to be improperly used. Every recipient of the bounty of the Society is required to abstain from intoxicating liquors, to send young children to school, and to apprentice those of a suitable age. During the twenty-seven years of its existence, ending October 1st, 1870, the Society has expended in charities the sum of $1,203,767, and has given relief to 180,000 families, or 765,000 persons. The office of the Society is in the Bible House.


Begging is a profession in New York. The deserving poor rarely come on the streets to seek aid, but the beggars crowd them, as they know the charitable institutions of the city would at once detect their imposture. A short while ago the "Superintendent of the Out-door Poor," said to a city merchant, "As a rule never give alms to a street beggar. Send them to me when they accost you, and not one in fifty will dare to show his face in my office."

The New York beggars are mainly foreigners. Scarcely an American is seen on the streets in this capacity. Every year the number is increasing. Foreigners who were professional beggars in their own countries, are coming over here to practise their trades, and these make New York their headquarters. It is estimated that there are more professional beggars here than in all the other cities of the country combined.

Broadway, and especially Fourteenth street, Union Square, and the Fifth avenue are full of them. They represent all forms of physical misfortune. Some appear to have but one leg, others but one arm. Some are blind, others horribly deformed. Some are genuine cripples, but the majority are sound in body. They beg because the business is profitable, and they are too lazy to work. The greater the semblance of distress, the more lucrative is their profession. Women hire babies, and post themselves in the thoroughfares most frequented by ladies. They generally receive a considerable sum during the course of the day. Others again provide themselves with a basket, in which they place a wretched display of shoestrings which no one is expected to buy, and station themselves in Broadway to attract the attention of the charitably disposed. The most daring force their way into private houses and the hotels and demand assistance with the most brazen effrontery. They hang on to you with the utmost determination, exposing the most disgusting sights to your gaze, and annoying you so much that you give them money in order to be rid of them. They, in their turn, mark you well, and remember you when you pass them again.

Perhaps the most annoying of the street beggars are the children. They frequent all parts of the city, but literally infest Fourteenth street and the lower part of the Fifth avenue. Many of them are driven into the streets by their parents to beg. They have the most pitiful tales to tell if you will listen to them. There is one little girl who frequents Fourteenth street, whose "mother has just died and left seven small children," every day in the last two years. A gentleman was once accosted by two of these children, whose feet were bare, although the weather was very cold. Seizing each by the arm, he ordered them to put on their shoes and stockings. His manner was so positive that they at once sat down on a door step, and producing their shoes and stockings from beneath their shawls, put them on. Many of these children support drunken or depraved parents by begging, and are soundly beaten by them if they return home at night without money. They grow up to a life of vagrancy. They soon learn to cheat and steal, and from such offences they pass rapidly into prostitution and crime.

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.


Carlyle's savage description of the people of England—"Eighteen millions of inhabitants, mostly fools"—is not applicable to his countrymen alone. It may be regarded as descriptive of the world at large, if the credulity, or to use a more expressive term, "the gullibility" of men is to be taken as a proof that they are "fools." Many years ago a sharp-witted scamp appeared in one of the European countries, and offered for sale a pill which he declared to be a sure protection against earthquakes. Absurd as was the assertion, he sold large quantities of his nostrum and grew rich upon the proceeds. The credulity which enriched this man is still a marked characteristic of the human race, and often strikingly exhibits itself in this country. During the present winter a rumor went out that a certain holy woman, highly venerated by the Roman Catholic Church, had predicted on her death-bed, that during the month of February, 1872, there would be three days of intense darkness over the world, in which many persons would perish, and that this darkness would be so intense that no light but that of a candle blessed by the Church could penetrate it. A Roman Catholic newspaper in Philadelphia ventured to print this prophecy, and immediately the rush for consecrated candles was so great on the part of the more ignorant members of that Church, that the Bishop of the Diocese felt himself obliged to publicly rebuke the superstition. This credulity manifests itself in nearly every form of life. The quack doctors or medical impostors, to whom we shall devote this chapter, live upon it, and do all in their power to encourage it.

There are quite a number of these men in New York. They offer to cure all manner of diseases, some for a small and others for a large sum. It has been discovered that some of these men carry on their business under two or three different names, often thus securing a double or triple share of their wretched business. The newspapers are full of their advertisements, many of which are unfit for the columns of a reputable journal. They cover the dead walls of the city with hideous pictures of disease and suffering, and flood the country with circulars and pamphlets setting forth the horrors of certain diseases, and giving an elaborate description of the symptoms by which they may be recognized. A clever physician has said that no man ever undertakes to look for defects in his physical system without finding them. The truth of the remark is proven by the fact that a very large number of persons, reading these descriptions of symptoms, many of which symptoms are common to a number of ills, come to the conclusion that they are affected in the manner stated by the quack. Great is the power of the imagination! so great, indeed, that many sound, healthy men are thus led to fancy themselves in need of medical attention. A short interview with some reputable physician would soon undeceive them, but they lay aside their good sense, and fall victims to their credulity. They think that as the quack has shown them where their trouble lies, he must needs have the power of curing them. They send their money to the author of the circular in question, and request a quantity of his medicine for the purpose of trying it. The nostrum is received in due time, and is accompanied by a second circular, in which the patient is coolly informed that he must not expect to be cured by one bottle, box, or package, as the case may be, but that five or six, or sometimes a dozen will be necessary to complete the cure, especially if the case is as desperate and stubborn as the letter applying for the medicine seems to indicate. Many are foolish enough to take the whole half dozen bottles or packages, and in the end are no better in health than they were at first. Indeed they are fortunate if they are not seriously injured by the doses they have taken. They are disheartened in nine cases out of ten, and are, at length, really in need of good medical advice. They have paid the quack more money than a good practitioner would demand for his services, and have only been injured by their folly.

It may be safely said that no honest and competent physician will undertake to treat cases by letter. No one worthy of patronage will guarantee a cure in any case, for an educated practitioner understands that cases are many and frequent where the best human skill may be exerted in vain. Further than this, a physician of merit will not advertise himself in the newspapers, except to announce the location of his office or residence. Such physicians are jealous of their personal and professional reputations, and are proud of their calling, which is justly esteemed one of the noblest on earth. They are men of humanity, and learning, and they take more pleasure in relieving suffering than in making money. To those who have no money they give their services in the name of the Great Healer of all ills. They have no private remedies. Their knowledge is freely given to the scientific world that all men may be benefited by it, contenting themselves with the enjoyments of the fame of their discoveries.

The quack, however, is a different being. In some cases he has medical knowledge, in the majority of instances he is an ignoramus. His sole object is to make money, and he sells remedies which he knows to be worthless, and even vends drugs which he is sure will do positive harm in the majority of cases.

The best plan is never to answer a medical advertisement. There are regular physicians enough in the land, and if one is influenced by motives of economy, he is pursuing a mistaken course in dealing with the advertising quack doctors of New York. If there is real trouble, so much the greater is the need of the advice of an educated and conscientious physician. If concealment is desired, the patient is safe in the confidential relations which every honest physician observes towards those under his care. A man is simply a fool to swallow drugs or compounds of whose nature he is ignorant, or to subject himself to treatment at the hands of one who has no personal knowledge of his case.

The same credulity which makes the fortunes of quack doctors, enriches the vendors of "Patent Medicines." The majority of the "specifics," "panaceas," etc., advertised in the newspapers are humbugs. They are generally made of drugs which can do no good, even if they do no harm. Some are made of dangerous chemical substances, and nearly all contain articles which the majority of people are apt to abuse. The remedies advertised as cures for "private diseases" generally do nothing but keep the complaint at a fixed stage, and give it an opportunity to become chronic. The "Elixirs of Life," "Life Rejuvenators," "Vital Fluids," and other compounds sold to "revive worn out constitutions" are either dangerous poisons or worthless draughts. A prominent dealer in drugs once said to the writer that the progress of a certain "Bitters" could be traced across the continent, from Chicago to California "by the graves it had made." Bitters, "medicinal wines" and such liquors have no virtues worth speaking of. They either ruin the tone of the stomach, or produce habits of intemperance.

The "washes," "lotions," "toilet fluids," etc., are generally apt to produce skin diseases. They contain, in almost every instance, substances which are either directly or indirectly poisonous to the skin. The "tooth washes," "powders," and "dentifrices," are hurtful. They crack or wear away the enamel of the teeth, leave the nerve exposed, and cause the teeth to decay. If you are wise, dear reader, you will never use a dentifrice, unless you know what it is made of. The principal constituent of these dentifrices is a powerful acid, and there are some which contain large quantities of sulphuric acid, one single application of which will destroy the best teeth in the world. The "hair dyes," advertised under so many different names, contain such poisons as nitrate of silver, oxide of lead, acetate of lead, and sulphate of copper. These are fatal to the hair, and generally injure the scalp. The "ointments" and "unguents," for promoting the growth of whiskers and moustaches, are either perfumed and colored lard, or poisonous compounds, which contain quick lime, or corrosive sublimate, or some kindred substance. If you have any acquaintance who has ever used this means of covering his face with a manly down, ask him which came first, the beard, or a troublesome eruption on the face.

Dr. Harris, the recent Superintendent of the Board of Health of New York, has frequently pointed out the evils resulting from the use of these compounds. Dr. Sayre mentions several cases of fatal poisoning by the use of hair dye, which came under his notice.

The newspapers frequently contain such advertisements as the following:

A RETIRED PHYSICIAN, OF FORTY YEARS' practice, discovered, while in India, a sure remedy for consumption, bronchitis, colds, etc. Having relinquished his practice, he has no further use for the remedy, and will send it free on receipt of a three cent stamp to pay return postage.

Sometimes the advertiser is "A lady who has been cured of great nervous debility after many years of misery." Again, the advertiser is a "Retired clergyman," or a "Sufferer restored to health, and anxious to benefit his fellow men." In whatever form the announcement is made, the advertiser is usually one and the same person—an ignorant knave, who lives by his wits. He advertises largely in all parts of the land, spending thousands of dollars annually, and it would seem that even an idiot could understand that the most benevolent person could not afford so expensive a method of "benefiting his fellow men." Letters come to him by the hundred, from simpletons who have "taken his bait," asking for his valuable recipe. He sends the prescription, and notifies the party asking for it, that if the articles named in it cannot be procured by him at any drug store convenient to him, he, the "retired physician," "clergyman," or "nervous lady," will furnish them, upon application, at a certain sum (generally averaging five dollars), which he assures him is very cheap, as the drugs are rare and expensive. The articles named in the prescription are utterly unknown to any druggist in the world, and the names are the production of the quack's own brains, and, as a matter of course, the patient is unable to procure them at home, and sends an order for them with the price, to the "retired physician," "clergyman," or "nervous lady," and in return receives a nostrum compounded of drugs, which any apothecary could have furnished at one half the expense. In this way the "benevolence" of the quack is very profitable. Men have grown rich in this business, and it is carried on to an amazing extent in this city. It is done in violation of the law, and the benevolent individual not unfrequently falls into the hands of the police, but, as soon as released, he opens his business under a new name. As long as there are fools and dupes in the world, so long will the "retired physician" find an extensive practice.


The letters "Y.M.C.A." are familiar to every city and town of importance in the Union, and are well known to be the initials of one of the most praiseworthy organizations in the world. It is needless to enter into any general account of the Young Men's Christian Association, and I shall devote this chapter to a description of the means employed by that body to carry on its work in the metropolis. A writer in Harper's Magazine has aptly described the headquarters of the Association as a "Club House." "For such it is," he adds, "both in its appliances and its purposes, though consecrated neither to politics, as are some, to social festivities, degenerating too often into gambling and intemperance, as are others, nor to literature and polite society, as are one or two, but to the cause of good morals, of pure religion, and of Him who is the divine Inspirer of the one and the divine Founder of the other."

The building thus referred to is located on the southwest corner of Fourth avenue and Twenty-third street, and is one of the handsomest and most attractive edifices in the city. The locality is admirably chosen. It is in full sight of the Fifth avenue and the neighboring hotels, and but one block east of Madison Square. On the opposite side of Twenty-third street is the beautiful Academy of Design; diagonally opposite is the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and immediately across Fourth avenue is the splendid structure of St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church. It is but three minutes' walk from the stages and cars on Broadway, and two of the most important lines of street cars pass its doors. No better location could have been chosen.


The building is five stories in height, and is constructed of dark New Jersey sandstone, from the Belleville quarries. It covers about one-third of an acre of ground, and has a frontage of one hundred and seventy-five feet on Twenty-third street, and eighty-three feet on the Fourth avenue. The architecture is of the French Renaissance style. The trimmings are of light Ohio stone, but the brown stone gives to the building its general aspect. The ground floor is occupied by handsome stores, and the fourth and fifth floors are devoted chiefly to artists' studios. These bring in an annual rental of about $12,000 or $13,000.

The second and third floors are used exclusively by the Association. At the head of the grand stairway which leads from the main entrance in Twenty-third street, is a large hall. On the left of this stairway is the main hall or lecture-room, one of the handsomest and most convenient public halls in the city. At the upper end is a fine platform with every convenience for lectures or concerts. The floor is provided with iron arm chairs, arranged after the manner of those in the parquet of Booth's Theatre. A large gallery extends around three sides of the hall, and is similarly provided with seats. The hall is two stories in height, is beautifully decorated, and will seat with comfort fifteen hundred people. On one side of the platform is a retiring room, and on the other is a large and handsomely decorated organ. This is one of the finest instruments in the city, and is a novelty in some respects, being furnished with a drum, a triangle, and a pair of cymbals. Organ concerts, lectures, and concerts by celebrated performers are given weekly during the fall and winter. On Sunday, religious services are held in the hall, the pastors of the different city churches officiating at the invitation of a committee of the Association in charge of these services.

On the opposite side of the main hall is the Reception Room of the Association, at one side of which is a door leading into the office of the Secretary, who is the executive officer. Adjoining the Reception Room are the Social Parlors and the Reading Room, in the latter of which the leading journals of the country are on file. The parlors are used for receptions and other social reunions of the members. From the Reception Room a flight of stairs leads directly down to the gymnasium and bowling-alley, where are to be found all the appliances for the development of "muscular Christianity" in its highest form.

On the third floor, which is on a level with the gallery of the Lecture Room, are rooms for prayer meetings, Bible classes, and week day classes for instruction in modern languages and other studies. Adjoining these is a handsome Library Room. The collection of books is increasing rapidly, and promises to be both valuable and useful.

[Picture: THE LIBRARY.]

Taken altogether, or in detail, the building and all its appointments are palatial. It is already the centre of a great and useful work, and offers many inducements to young men, especially to those who are living in the city, away from their homes and families, and in the demoralizing atmosphere of the hotels and boarding-houses. The Association, however, does not content itself with merely offering these inducements to those who will seek its doors, but sends its members forth into the haunts of suffering and vice, and endeavors to win back those who have gone astray from the paths of virtue, and to alleviate the misery of those who are in distress.


Nine-tenths of the emigration from Europe to the United States is through the port of New York. In order to accommodate the vast number of arrivals, the Commissioners of Emigration have established a depot for the especial accommodation of this class.

The emigrant ships, both sailing 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, who, with their baggage, are placed on board a small steamer and conveyed to Castle Garden, a round building which juts out into the water at the upper end of the Battery.

In the year 1807, work was begun on this building by order of 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 was used for several years for operatic and theatrical performances, concerts, and public receptions. It was the largest and most elegant hall in the country, and was the favorite resort of pleasure-seekers. Jenny Lind sang there, during her visit to the United States. It was used for public amusements until 1825, when, the wealth and fashion 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 parties.

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 furnished.

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.

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 shame.


It is said that there are more than forty thousand women and girls in New York dependent upon their own exertions for their support. This estimate includes the sewing women, factory girls, shop girls, female clerks, teachers, and governesses. They all labor under two common disadvantages. They are paid less for the same amount of work than men, and being more helpless than men are more at the mercy of unscrupulous employers. The female clerks and shop girls receive small wages, it is true, but they are generally paid regularly and honestly. The sewing women and factory hands are usually the most unfortunate, and these constitute the great bulk of the working women of New York. Many of these are married, or are widows with children dependent upon them for support.

The life of the New York working woman is very hard. She rises about daybreak, for she must have breakfast and be at her post by seven o'clock, if employed in a factory or workshop. At noon she has a brief intermission for dinner, and then resumes her work, which lasts until 6 o'clock in the evening. You may see them in the morning, thinly clad, weary and anxious, going in crowds to their work. They have few holidays except on Sunday, and but few pleasures at any time. Life with them is a constant struggle, and one in which they are always at a disadvantage. The sewing girls are in the majority, and there are two classes of these—those who work in the rooms of their employers and those who work at home. The former we have included in the general term of factory hands. The factory girls earn from two to four dollars a week, as a rule, a sum scarcely sufficient to keep body and soul together, but they get their wages promptly and consider themselves fortunate. Men doing the same work would receive about twice as much.


The sewing women who work at home are worse off. They live in the poorer class of tenement houses, and are surrounded with discomfort of every kind. They work as hard as, if not harder than their sisters in the factories, and are even worse paid. They have not the advantage of being compelled to undertake the exercise of walking to and from the factories which the latter enjoy. They sit in their wretched rooms all day, and often late into the night, sewing for a miserable pittance, and for some scoundrel who will perhaps swindle them out of their hard earnings. For making blue cotton shirts, or "hickories" as they are called, a woman receives six cents apiece, and must furnish her own thread; for making linen coats she receives from fifteen to twenty cents apiece; for men's heavy overalls she gets sixty-two cents a dozen; for flannel shirts one dollar a dozen. These prices are not paid by the Jews alone, but by reputable Broadway dealers, men who style themselves "leading merchants." No wonder they pile up such large fortunes.

Now, in order to pay the rent of her bare and cheerless room, the sewing woman must make two whole shirts a day. Then she must do work enough to provide for her other expenses. She has to buy fuel in the winter, and kindling wood costs her three cents a bundle and coal fifteen cents a pail. Perhaps she has children, or a sick and helpless, or, worse still, a drunken husband to provide for. All out of her beggarly wages. Her food consists almost entirely of bread and potatoes, and sometimes she treats herself to the luxury of a cup of tea without milk or sugar. If she owns a sewing machine, and very few do, she can earn more than one who sews by hand, but constant work at the machine means a speedy breaking down of her health and a lingering death, or a transfer to the charity hospital.

Small as are her wages, the working woman is not always sure of receiving them. Some rascally employers—and one of the institutions to be mentioned further on, could give a long list of them—will, upon receiving the work, find fault with the sewing, and either deduct a part of the poor creature's wages for the alleged fault, or refuse point blank to pay her a cent. Others again will demand a deposit equal to the value of the materials taken home by the sewing women. Upon the return of the completed work, they will not only refuse the promised payment, alleging that the work is badly done, but will also refuse to return the money advanced by the woman. The wretch well knows that the woman is weak and helpless, and that she is ignorant of the mode of protecting herself. More than this, she has not the money to go to law.

These are simple facts, and not "sensational items." The records of the "Working Women's Protective Union" will corroborate them, and will furnish many others.

"Among the employes of a certain Israelitish manufacturer of straw goods in New York was a poor French woman, who, with her three small children, occupied apartments in a rear tenement house in Mulberry street. What renders this case of more than ordinary interest, is the fact that the lady had once been in affluent circumstances, and at one period of her life moved in the wealthiest circles of Paris. Misfortune befel her in the death of her husband, who was accidentally killed upon a railroad train. The bulk of the property of her deceased husband was seized upon by her creditors. The widow, however, succeeded in saving from the general wreck a few hundred dollars, and with this she emigrated to America, arriving here in the spring, and bringing with her three little children. Here she anticipated she would be enabled, with the aid of her superior education, to provide for herself and family. For several weeks her efforts at securing employment proved unavailing; but just before her last dollar was expended, she succeeded in forming a class in French, which she instructed for two months, at the expiration of which time she was deprived of this her only support—her pupils leaving her for the purpose of a summer's holiday at the fashionable watering-places. Other efforts were made to secure the position of teacher of languages (with several of which she is conversant), but all to no effect. Finally, reduced to absolute want, the lady was obliged to resort to manual labor in order to provide herself and little ones with bread. Unused as she was to toil, her efforts to obtain employment were attended with little or no success. Day by day her case grew more desperate, until, at last, unable to pay the rent of her miserable attic apartment, she and her little ones were thrust into the street. Homeless and friendless, with not sufficient money wherewith to purchase a supper for herself and famishing little ones, the lady was forced to beg; which course, up to this time in her unfortunate career, she had looked upon as barely preferable to death itself. She had a few acquaintances among the parents of her former pupils, and to these she resolved to apply for aid. Her efforts in this direction were but a repetition of the old, old story. Her friends, who, during her prosperity, were lavishing their attentions on her, now that misfortune had overtaken her, refused to recognize her, and thrust her from their doors without a penny. Fortune relented one day, and rewarded her efforts with a situation in a manufactory of straw goods. To be sure, the compensation was small; still, as bread enough might be secured in this manner to keep the wolf from the door until something better might present itself, she resolved to accept the terms of the straw manufacturer, and entered upon her duties. For a week or two the sum earned by the unfortunate lady was faithfully paid her, but on the third week the pusillanimous nature of the Jew cropped out. She had bargained to manufacture straw hats at eighty cents a dozen, or six and two-third cents each. At this rate, she managed to earn two dollars and fifty cents per week. Upon applying for her wages at the close of the third week, the employer informed her that he had discovered that six and two-thirds cents apiece was too large a compensation, and that from eighty cents he had resolved to reduce her pay to seventy cents per dozen, and accordingly presented her with her weekly payment, first deducting one dollar and forty cents from her wages. Pressed as she was for money, the lady refused to accept these terms, and at once set about seeking legal redress. Learning that at the 'Working Women's Union' of Bleecker street legal advice was furnished free of charge to such as herself, she laid her grievances before the officers of the institution, who at once placed the affair in the hands of their legal adviser, who soon brought the rapacious Israelite to terms. At the time of her application to the institution the lady stated that she had been without fire, and, with the exception of a small loaf or two of bread and what few potatoes her children were enabled to gather from about the stalls in several of the markets, without food for several days."

The wrongs inflicted upon the working women are many. "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, book-folders, 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 week."

Is it a wonder that so many of the working women and girls of New York glide into sin, with the hope of bettering their hard lot? And, when thrown out of work, with no food or shelter, save what can be obtained by begging or at the Station House, is it a wonder that they seek the concert saloons, in sheer desperation, or join the street walkers on Broadway?

But if the working woman has her persecutors, she has also her friends in the great city. One of the best institutions which have been organized for the protection and assistance of this class is the "Working Women's Protective Union," the head-quarters of which are in Bleecker street, a short distance east of Broadway. It is organized for the common benefit of all those women who obtain a livelihood by other employments than household services. It aids them:

"First. By securing legal protection from frauds and impositions free of expense. Second. By appeals, respectfully but urgently made, to employers for wages proportioned to the cost of living, and for such shortening of the hours of labor as is due to health and the requirements of household affairs. Third. By seeking new and appropriate spheres of labor in departments not now occupied by them. Fourth. By sustaining a registry system, through which those out of work may be assisted in finding employment. Fifth. By appeals to the community at large for that sympathy and support which is due to working women."

The members each contribute the sum of ten dollars annually to the support of the institution. Outside aid is also liberally given. The Union has done much good since its organization. It has compelled dishonest employers to fulfil their contracts with their operatives, and in one single week compelled the payment of the sum of three hundred and twenty-five dollars, which had been withheld by these scoundrels. Out of two hundred complaints against employers in a single year, it secured a fair settlement of nearly two-thirds. In 1869 it procured work for 3379 women and girls. It also looks after friendless and homeless women who seek its assistance, and helps them to secure employment.


The "Home for Working Women," No. 45 Elizabeth street, is a massive brick building, six stories high, and will accommodate about five hundred boarders. It is supplied with a reading-room, a reception-room, a parlor, a restaurant, and a laundry. The upper floors are used as dormitories. The beds are neat and tidy, and are arranged in rows and separated from each other by white screens. The rooms are large and well ventilated, and the whole establishment is kept scrupulously clean and in perfect order. One dollar and twenty-five cents is the charge for a week's lodging and washing. The restaurant supplies meals of an excellent quality at an average cost of twenty-five cents. Lodgers are admitted until eleven o'clock at night at the price named. If they enter after that hour, they are charged twenty-five cents extra.

The Children's Aid Society conducts several lodging-houses for girls, one of which is located in Bleecker street, and the other at 27 St. Mark's Place. They furnish beds and meals to girls of all ages, at five cents each, while they have money, and give them for nothing where the applicant is found to be destitute. They have been tolerably successful thus far, and give promise of future usefulness.

There are several other associations, with similar objects, in operation in the city.

Mr. A. T. Stewart is now erecting, on Fourth avenue, a magnificent iron building, which is to be used as a "Home for Working Women." The building extends along the avenue, from Thirty-second to Thirty-third street, a distance of 192 feet, and has a depth of 205 feet. Including the central Mansard roofs, the building is eight stories in height. It is one of the finest edifices in the city, and will be provided with every convenience for the work to which it is destined. It will be capable of accommodating fifteen hundred boarders, and will be conducted on a plan similar to that of the "Home for Working Women" in Elizabeth street. It is not to be conducted as a charity. Each occupant is to pay a fixed sum per week; and it is believed that here this sum will not exceed two dollars a week for board, lodging, and washing.


It is not known how many stores, or places in which trade is conducted beneath the shelter of a roof, the city contains. They are numerous, but they are not sufficient for the wants of trade. The sellers overflow them and spread out into the streets and by-ways, with no roof above them but the blue sky. Some of these sellers are men, some women, and some mere children. Some have large stationary stands, others roam about with their wares in boxes, bags, or baskets in their hands. They sell all manner of wares. Watches, jewelry, newspapers, fruits, tobacco, cigars, candies, cakes, ice cream, lemonade, flowers, dogs, birds,—in short everything that can be carried in the hand—are sold by the Street Venders. The rich and the poor buy of them. The strolling vagrant picks up his scanty breakfast at one of these stands, and the millionaire buys an apple at another.

The eating and apple stands are mainly kept by women. The most of them are Irishwomen, and the big cap and dirty frill under the quilted bonnet are among the most common signs of such a stand. Some of these stands sell soups, some oysters, some coffee and hot cakes, some ice cream, and some merely fruits and apples. In Wall street they are kept by men, and pies and cakes form the staple articles of trade. Candies and nuts are sold exclusively by many. Such candies as are not to be had of any confectioner in town. Women never sell cigars or tobacco, though many of them never take their pipes from their mouths during business hours. Some of them offer ladies' hose and gentlemen's socks, and suspenders, yarns, worsted hoods, and gloves. A few women sell newspapers, but these are rapidly giving way to men.


The newspaper stands are located principally on Broadway, in Wall street, and around the Post Office and the ferries. At some of them only the morning or evening journals are kept, but others offer all the weeklies and the illustrated papers as well.

The venders of cheap neckties and pocket book straps are mostly boys or very young men. They frequent the lower part of Broadway, which is also the favorite haunt of the venders of cheap jewelry. Pocket books of every description are sold at marvellously cheap prices, and photographs are displayed in such lavish quantities that you feel sure that every dealer in them has bankrupted himself in order to afford a free art exhibition to the crowd of little ragamuffins gathered around him. Toys of every contrivance adorn the stands above Canal street. The dealers in these articles are strong, able-bodied men, who prefer to stand on the side walks pulling the strings of a jumping jack, or making contortions with a toy contrived for that purpose, to a more manly way of earning their bread.

The balloon men, the penny whistle and pop gun dealers frequent the upper streets, where they are apt to be seen by children. The lame soldier sets up his stand anywhere, and deals principally in shoe strings, neckties, or in books and papers that no one ever reads. Towards Christmas large booths for the sale of toys are erected on some of the east and west side streets, at which a thriving business in toys and fire-works is carried on.

The Chinese candy and cigar sellers are to be found between the Astor House and the South Ferry. No one ever seems to buy from them, but they continue in the business, and thus afford proof positive that they have their customers.

The dog and bird men haunt the neighborhood of the Astor House and St. Nicholas hotels. They get high prices for their pets. Dogs sell readily. It is the fashion in New York to discourage the increase of families, and to attempt to satisfy the half-smothered maternal instinct by petting these dumb creatures.

Little girls are numerous among the street venders. They sell matches, tooth-picks, cigars, newspapers, songs and flowers. The flower-girls are hideous little creatures, but their wares are beautiful and command a ready sale. These are made into hand bouquets, and buttonhole bouquets, and command from ten cents to several dollars each. When the day is wet and gloomy, and the slush and the mud of Broadway are thick over everything animate and inanimate, and the sensitive soul shrinks within itself at the sight of so much discomfort, the flower-girls do a good business. The flower-stands then constitute the most attractive objects on the street, and men are irresistibly drawn to them by the sight of their exquisite adornments. It is very pleasant at such times to have a bright, fragrant nosegay in one's buttonhole, or to carry a bouquet to one's home. On such days you may see hundreds of splashed and muddy men on the great thoroughfare, utterly hopeless of preserving any outward semblance of neatness, but each with his nosegay in his buttonhole; and as he glances down at it, from time to time, you may see his weary face soften and brighten, and an expression of cheerfulness steal over it, which renders him proof against even the depressing influences of the mud and the rain.


No visitor to New York should omit visiting the wharves of the North and East rivers. A day may be profitably spent on the shore of each stream. The docks do not compare favorably with the massive structures of Liverpool, or London, or the other great seaports of the world. They are wretched, half decayed and dirty; but ere long they are to be replaced with a system of magnificent stone and iron piers, which will afford all the desired facilities, and render New York in this respect one of the best provided ports on the globe.

Beginning at the Battery on the North River side, we find first the pier of the famous Camden and Amboy Railway Company, from which passengers and freights are conveyed to the railway by steamer. Above this are the piers of the great European steamship lines, the coast steamers, and the steamboats plying between the city and the neighboring towns. The Boston boats, all of which run to points in Connecticut and Rhode Island, where they make connections with the railways to Boston, are fine steamers. Those of the Narragansett Steamship Company, the Bristol and Providence by name, are the most magnificent steamers in the world. They cost $1,250,000 apiece. They are simply floating palaces, as are also the Albany night boats. The foreign steamers are huge iron vessels, carrying thousands of tons of freight and hundreds of passengers. The sailing of one of these ships always draws a crowd to her pier, and though from five to eight of them leave the port every week, the attraction still continues.

The ferries to Jersey City and Hoboken are all located on this river, and are full of interest to the stranger. The Bethel, or floating chapel for seamen, is also worth visiting. The ice trade of the city is carried on on this front, the principal supply of that article being obtained along the river, about one hundred miles above the city.

[Picture: BOAT STORES.]

The oyster boats, or boat stores, are peculiar to New York. They lie chiefly in the vicinity of Christopher street, and are sources of considerable profit to their owners. The Hay Scales are also curious objects. At the foot of Fifty-fourth street the numerous telegraph lines which connect New York with the States south of it, cross the Hudson. They gain the Jersey shore in the vicinity of the Elysian Fields at Hoboken, and thence continue their way to every part of the States mentioned.

The East River front is the terminus of the ferry lines to Brooklyn, Long Island City, and Hunter's Point. The shipping here consists almost entirely of sailing vessels. The craft plying between New York and the New England towns have their stations here, and here also are the California clippers. The huge Indiamen lie here receiving or discharging cargo. The whole river front is covered with merchandise representing the products of every land under the sun.

The Floating Docks are among the principal sights of the East River, as are also the vast coal and ship yards. This stream will soon he spanned by an immense suspension bridge which is to connect the City Hall in New York with the City Hall in Brooklyn. The total length of the bridge and its approaches is to be 5878 feet. The bridge is to rest on cables, supported by massive stone towers at the water's edge on each side. The span between these towers is to be 1616 feet. From each tower the flooring is to be carried a further distance of 940 feet to the land approaches. The New York approach is to be 1441 feet, and the Brooklyn approach 941 feet in length. The approaches will, in some instances, be on a level with the tops of the houses in the cities through which they pass. The total height of the bridge above the tide is to be 268 feet. The work is now progressing rapidly, and will be completed in about three years.

Accidents are very common in every large port, but the peculiar construction of the New York ferry houses renders the number of cases of drowning doubly great. In order to guard against this, and to afford timely assistance to persons in danger of drowning, "rescue stations" have been established along the water front of the city. There is one at each ferry house, and the others are located at the points where accidents are most likely to occur. These stations are each provided with a ladder of sufficient length to reach from the pier to the water at low tide, with hooks at one end, by means of which it is attached firmly to the pier; a boat hook fastened to a long pole; a life preserver or float, and a coil of rope. These are merely deposited in a conspicuous place. In case of accident, any one may use them for the purpose of rescuing a person in danger of drowning, but at other times it is punishable by law to interfere with them, or to remove them. The station is in charge of the policeman attached to the "beat" in which it is located, and he has the exclusive right in the absence of one of his superior officers to direct all proceedings. At the same time, he is required to comply strictly with the law regulating such service on his part, and to render every assistance in his power. The law for the government of persons using the "rescue apparatus" is posted conspicuously by the side of the implements, as are also concise and simple directions as to the best method of attempting to resuscitate drowned persons. These stations have been of the greatest use since their establishment, and reflect the highest credit upon those who originated and introduced them.


There stands on the shore of the East River, at the foot of Twenty-sixth street, a massive gray-stone building, known as Bellevue Hospital. Over the lowest door of the front, on the upper side of Twenty-sixth street, is a single word in gilt letters—MORGUE. This door marks the entrance to the Dead House of New York, one of the most repulsive, but most terribly fascinating places in the city. The place is named after the famous dead house of Paris, and the interior is arranged in exact imitation of it, except that it is smaller. It is a gloomy-looking place, this Morgue, and it is always crowded. Bodies found in the streets or in the harbor are brought here for identification. They are kept a certain length of time, usually from twenty-four to forty-eight hours, and if not claimed by relatives or friends, are buried at the expense of the city. Every article of clothing, every trinket, or other means of identification, found with a body, is carefully preserved, in the hope that it may lead to a discovery of the cause of the death.

The room is gloomy and cell-like in appearance. It is about twenty feet square. The floor is of brick tiles, and the walls are rough and heavy. The apartment is divided into two unequal portions by a partition of glass and iron. The smaller portion is used by the public. The remainder is devoted to the purposes of the establishment. Back of the glass screen are four stone tables on iron frames, each with its foot towards the glass. Stretched on these are lifeless naked forms, each covered with a sheet. A stream of cold water, from a movable jet, falls over the lifeless face of each and trickles over the senseless forms, warding off decay until the last moment, in the hope that some one to whom the dead man or woman was dear in life will come and claim the body. A vain hope, generally, for but few bodies are claimed. Nearly all go to the potter's field.

[Picture: THE MORGUE.]

A fearful company, truly, as they lie there, cold and rigid, their ghastly features lighted by the chilly gleams which fall from the windows above. Here is the body of an infant, its little life of suffering over. It was found in an ash barrel in an alley. On the next slab is the form of a man who was evidently well to do in the world. He is a stranger to the city, the Superintendent tells you, and dropped in the streets from apoplexy. His friends will no doubt claim him before the day is over, as the articles found on his person have established his identity. The next table contains the body of a woman. She was young and must have been fair. She was found in the river, and as there are no marks of violence on her person, the presumption is that she sought her own destruction. "Such cases are becoming common," says the Superintendent in his matter of fact way. "They are very sad, but we see too many of them to think them romantic." A shudder comes over you as you gaze at the ghastly occupant of the last table. The dead man was evidently a gentleman, for he bears every mark of a person of good position in life. His purple, swollen features tell you plainly that he was taken from the river. There is a deep wound in his side, and marks of violence are numerous about his head and neck. You gaze at the Superintendent inquiringly, and even that cool, clear-headed official turns a shade paler as he answers, almost under his breath, "Murdered. For his money, doubtless."

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17     Next Part
Home - Random Browse