Lights and Shadows of New York Life -- neat old book

200610311106 Thank goodness Mickey Mouse wasn't created in 1872. For if he had, Congress would have certainly passed a law preventing all creative works from that year forward from entering the public domain.

And that would be a shame, because then fewer people would be able to read "Lights and Shadows of New York Life, or, the Sights and Sensations of the Great City," by James D. McCabe, Jr.

Fortunately, books published in 1872 are in the public domain, so you can download this fantastic book about life in New York in the late 19th century for free from Project Gutenberg or Manybooks.net.

This is the world of Scorsese's Gangs of New York, one of my favorite movies. The table of contents include intriguing chapters, such as:

IMPOSTORS, STREET MUSICIANS, MINOR AMUSEMENTS, BOARDING-HOUSE LIFE, THE CHEAP LODGING HOUSES, PROFESSIONAL CRIMINALS, THE THIEVES, THE PICKPOCKETS, FEMALE THIEVES, THE RIVER THIEVES, THE FENCES, THE ROUGHS, THE PAWNBROKERS, THE SOCIAL EVIL, THE LOST SISTERHOOD, THE STREET WALKERS, CHILD MURDER, BLACK-MAILING, FEMALE SHARPERS, FORTUNE TELLERS AND CLAIRVOYANTS, THE BUMMERS, TENEMENT HOUSE LIFE, DRUNKENNESS, WHAT IT COSTS TO LIVE IN NEW YORK, GAMBLING, FARO BANKS, LOTTERIES, THE "HEATHEN CHINEE," STREET CHILDREN, SWINDLERS, THE POOR OF NEW YORK, THE DESERVING POOR, THE BEGGARS, QUACK DOCTORS, WORKING WOMEN, STREET VENDERS

From the section on Street Children:

In spite of the labors of the Missions and the Reformatory Institutions, there are ten thousand children living on the streets of New York, gaining their bread by blacking boots, by selling newspapers, watches, pins, etc., and by stealing. Some are thrust into the streets by dissolute parents, some are orphans, some are voluntary outcasts, and others drift here from the surrounding country. Wherever they may come from, or however they may get here, they are here, and they are nearly all leading a vagrant life which will ripen into crime or pauperism.

The newsboys constitute an important division of this army of homeless children. You see them everywhere, in all parts of the city, but they are most numerous in and about Printing House Square, near the offices of the great dailies. They rend the air and deafen you with their shrill cries. They surround you on the sidewalk, and almost force you to buy their papers. They climb up the steps of the stage, thrust their grim little faces into the windows, and bring nervous passengers to their feet with their shrill yells; or, scrambling into a street car, at the risk of being kicked into the street by a brutal conductor, they will offer you their papers in such an earnest, appealing way, that, nine times out of ten, you buy from sheer pity for the child.

Link | Amazon has some used copies for sale.