50 Amazing Vintage Photos Showing the Horrible Living Conditions in New York’s Slums During the Late 19th Century

New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State, or NYC for short, is the most populous city in the United States. With a 2020 population of 8,804,190 distributed over 300.46 square miles (778.2 km2), New York City is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the State of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban area. With over 20.1 million people in its metropolitan statistical area and 23.5 million in its combined statistical area as of 2020, New York is one of the world’s most populous megacities. New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, significantly influencing commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, dining, art, fashion, and sports, and is the most photographed city in the world. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy, and has sometimes been called the capital of the world.

Situated on one of the world’s largest natural harbors, New York City is composed of five boroughs, each of which is coextensive with a respective county of the State of New York. The five boroughs—Brooklyn (Kings County), Queens (Queens County), Manhattan (New York County), the Bronx (Bronx County), and Staten Island (Richmond County)—were created when local governments were consolidated into a single municipal entity in 1898. The city and its metropolitan area constitute the premier gateway for legal immigration to the United States. As many as 800 languages are spoken in New York, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world. New York is home to more than 3.2 million residents born outside the United States, the largest foreign-born population of any city in the world as of 2016. As of 2018, the New York metropolitan area is estimated to produce a gross metropolitan product (GMP) of nearly $1.8 trillion, ranking it first in the United States. If the New York metropolitan area were a sovereign state, it would have the eighth-largest economy in the world. New York is home to the highest number of billionaires of any city in the world.

New York City traces its origins to a trading post founded on the southern tip of Manhattan Island by Dutch colonists in approximately 1624. The settlement was named New Amsterdam (Dutch: Nieuw Amsterdam) in 1626 and was chartered as a city in 1653. The city came under English control in 1664 and was renamed New York after King Charles II of England granted the lands to his brother, the Duke of York. The city was regained by the Dutch in July 1673 and was renamed New Orange for one year and three months; the city has been continuously named New York since November 1674. New York City was the capital of the United States from 1785 until 1790, and has been the largest U.S. city since 1790. The Statue of Liberty greeted millions of immigrants as they came to the U.S. by ship in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and is a symbol of the U.S. and its ideals of liberty and peace. In the 21st century, New York has emerged as a global node of creativity, entrepreneurship, and environmental sustainability, and as a symbol of freedom and cultural diversity. In 2019, New York was voted the greatest city in the world per a survey of over 30,000 people from 48 cities worldwide, citing its cultural diversity.

Many districts and monuments in New York City are major landmarks, including three of the world’s ten most visited tourist attractions in 2013. A record 66.6 million tourists visited New York City in 2019. Times Square is the brightly illuminated hub of the Broadway Theater District, one of the world’s busiest pedestrian intersections, and a major center of the world’s entertainment industry. Many of the city’s landmarks, skyscrapers, and parks are known around the world, as is the city’s fast pace, spawning the term New York minute. The Empire State Building has become the global standard of reference to describe the height and length of other structures. Manhattan’s real estate market is among the most expensive in the world. Providing continuous 24/7 service and contributing to the nickname The City That Never Sleeps, the New York City Subway is the largest single-operator rapid transit system worldwide, with 472 rail stations. The city has over 120 colleges and universities, including Columbia University, New York University, Rockefeller University, and the City University of New York system, which is the largest urban public university system in the United States. Anchored by Wall Street in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, New York City has been called both the world’s leading financial center and the most financially powerful city in the world, and is home to the world’s two largest stock exchanges by total market capitalization, the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. (Wikipedia)

“Bandit’s Roost,” a notorious hangout for the criminal element at 59 Mulberry Street in Little Italy, 1888. At the time, the area was among the most impoverished and crime-ridden in the entire city.
Pike and Henry Streets in the Lower East Side, with the Manhattan Bridge looming in the background, 1936.
Beggar with his hand out, 1900.
Rivington Street in the Lower East Side, 1900.
Children lick a massive block of ice to stay cool on July 6, 1912.
An Italian immigrant carries a dry goods box down Bleecker Street, February 1912.
A beggar, perhaps disfigured during World War I, sits on the street, early 1900s.
Street children sleeping, 1890.
An Italian immigrant’s shop on Mott Street, 1912.
Refuse piles up at the entrance to the tenements at 53 to 59 MacDougal Street, February 1912.
Things got even worse during the garbage strike of November 8-11, 1908. Pictured: Crowds and police gather in the street during the strike.
The “White Wings” clean the streets, under police protection, during the garbage strike of November 8-11, 1908.
Children play near a dead horse left to rot in the street, 1905.
Children gather in Mullen’s Alley in the Cherry Hill area of lower Manhattan, 1888.
A woman carries a bundle of clothing to be sewn at home near Astor Place, February 1912.
A street peddler who’d slept in a basement at 11 Ludlow Street in the Lower East Side, 1899.
Two women and a man gather in front of outhouses at an unspecified location, circa 1902-1914.Most turn-of-the-century New York City tenements didn’t have indoor plumbing.
A food vendor sells his wares in the streets of the Lower East Side on February 24, 1917.
Dead bodies lie in an alley off Monroe Street following a nearby fire, December 1913.
Men wait on the bread line in the Bowery on February 7, 1910.
Jewish immigrants carry packages of matzo, April 1908.
The Municipal Lodging House for the homeless sits across the street from an abandoned lot on 25th Street, circa 1909-1920.
The house opened in February 1909 to help treat a citywide homelessness problem that saw as many as 600 new applicants looking for shelter each day.
Men stand at a corner on Chinatown’s Pell Street, 1900.
Crowds at Pitt and Rivington Streets in the Lower East Side, 1915.
Street festival in Little Italy, 1908.
Clothes line the railings of the tenements at 260 to 268 Elizabeth Street, March 1912.
Street dweller, 1890.
Children wearing signs in English and Yiddish protest child labor conditions on May 1, 1909.
Boys in Hell’s Kitchen demonstrate how they rob people who have passed out.
Children behind the tenements at 134 1/2 Thompson Street, February 1912.
Two newspaper boys asleep in the press room of The Sun, 1892.
Chinatown storefront, 1903.
107th Street just east of 3rd Avenue, February 1912.
Street merchants in Little Italy, 1900
Children prepare to transport a load of kimonos on Thompson Street, February 1912.
Hell’s Kitchen, just before 1890.
Impoverished populations in the Lower East Side, late 1800s.
Impoverished populations in the Lower East Side, late 1800s.
The Bowery, February 1912.
21-23 Pearl Street, circa 1890-1919.
Stevedore working in the fish market of the Lower East Side, May-June 1943.
A boy uses the curbside water pump at Trinity Place, just south of Cedar Street, 1902.
Street peddler in the Lower East Side, 1890s
Hester Street, between Allen and Orchard Streets in the Lower East Side, 1938.
A girl on the sidewalk in Little Italy, 1950s.
Orchard Street in the Lower East Side, 1900s.
Ten-year-old child waits to walk across Broadway at Leroy Street, February 1912.
Rooftop pigeon coop at an unspecified location, circa 1934-1938.
A young girl brings cloth “homework” back to her tenement to be sewn, circa 1912.
Mulberry and Prince Streets, 1935.

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