Posts Tagged ‘New York’

How the other half lived

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

On this day in 1870, Jacob Riis stepped off a ship from Denmark to begin a new life in New York. The immigration office found him a job in western Pennsylvania, but news of a war in Europe prompted him to soon return to New York City to volunteer to serve in the French Army.

The French Army didn’t want him. He had sold everything down to his boots to pay for the trip to New York, so now he was destitute and homeless. During the summer, he was able to find some seasonal work just outside the city, but when those jobs ended in the fall, he “joined the great army of tramps…fighting at night with vagrant curs or outcasts as miserable as myself for the protection of some sheltering ash-bin or doorway.”Jacob Riis - Bandit's Roost He spent weeks sleeping in doorways or alleys in the most notorious neighborhood in the country, Five Points. He was even evicted from the police station and put on a ferry to Jersey City. (more…)

Green Beer

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

This month, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’m going to write about Irish things, or more accurately, Irish-American things since the holiday is really an American one. Regardless of the celebration’s origins as an Irish Catholic day of prayer, it is now a day when Americans come out to celebrate being Irish or at least pretending to have the capacity to drink mythic quantities of green beer. And the Irish, well, they come out to watch the Americans. Even in for St. Patrick's Day (more…)

Looking for Hell

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

The other day I went looking for Hell.

I was in New York and had a few hours to kill so I checked the map for things near my hotel and I saw we were near the neighborhood labeled “Hell’s Kitchen.”  I’d been reading about the 19th Century tenements of the Five Points neighborhood, so I was in the mood to look for signs of past misery in New York. Five Points was so notoriously bad that it became a huge tourist attraction. Davy Crockett, visiting New York in 1834, said that the residents of the Sixth Ward were “too mean to swab hell’s kitchen.” So those who actually lived in Hell’s Kitchen had to have it worse, right? Maybe they did, but I found no evidence of it on this trip.

The first indication I saw that I’d reached the right area was a restaurant proudly calling itself “Hell’s Kitchen.” It was closed. Maybe that had something to do with the ice over the sidewalk outside… (more…)

Bolting to New York

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

When I considered taking a Bolt bus from Baltimore to New York, I looked online and read such a mixed bag of reviews I didn’t know what to think. Bolt was either a revolution or just revolting, depending on who you read. So as I was getting ready to leave, I decided I’d write and post my own review.

One thing the reviewers mentioned was not being able to find the bus stop in Baltimore. I checked the address, directions and map carefully so I wouldn’t have that problem. I did anyway. But it wasn’t bad – I got out of the car near a bunch of people waiting with luggage on St. Paul Street and they were the wrong group of people with luggage, but they pointed me in the right direction. I headed for the group at the other end of the block and only when I got there did I see the little “Bolt Bus” sign on the sidewalk. There was a guy with an orange “Bolt Bus” vest so showed him my reservation and he told me to go stand at the back of the second line.

When I bought my ticket last week, I was placed in boarding group “C.” So how did those people in the first line get into groups “A” and B”? Was there a First Class in buses? Were they Frequent Busers? (more…)