Historical Reprints History Secrets of The Great City

Secrets of The Great City

Secrets of The Great City
Catalog # SKU1803
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Edward Winslow Martin


The Great City

A Work Descriptive
of the
Virtues and the Vices,
the Mysteries, Miseries and Crimes
New York City

Edward Winslow Martin

The City of New York is the largest and most important in America. The world's attention has once again been cast upon 'America's' city since 9-11. However, today, as at the turn of last century, much of idyllic view of New York City is hype and public relation advertising. This book was authored at the turn of the last century, and little has changed in the 'real' NYC in the past hundred years in its social makeup and its caste system.

Its corporate limits embrace the whole of Manhattan Island, on which it is situated, and which is bounded by the Hudson, the East and Harlem rivers, and by Spuyten Duyvil creek, which last connects the Harlem with the Hudson. Being almost entirely surrounded by deep water, and lying within sight of the ocean, and only sixteen miles from it, the city is naturally the greatest commercial centre of the country. The extreme length of the island is fifteen miles, and its average breadth a mile and a half. The city lies at the head of New York Bay, which stretches away for miles until the Narrows, the main entrance to the harbor, are reached, presenting a panorama unsurpassed for natural and artificial beauty. The people of New York are very proud of their bay, and justly regard it as one of the most magnificent in the world.

From the Chapter 1

The population is made up from every nation under Heaven. The natives are in the minority. The foreign element predominates. Irishmen, Germans, Jews, Turks, Greeks, Russians, Italians, Spaniards, Mexicans, Portuguese, Scotch, French, Chinese--in short, representatives of every nationality--abound. These frequently herd together, each class by itself, in distinct parts of the city, which they seem to regard as their own.

Land is very scarce and valuable in New York, and this fact compels the poorer classes to live in greater distress than in most cities of the world. The whole number of buildings in the city in 1860 was fifty-five thousand, which includes churches, stores, etc. In the same year the population was eight hundred and five thousand, or one hundred and sixty-one thousand families. Of these fifteen thousand only occupied entire houses; nine thousand one hundred and twenty dwellings contained two families, and six thousand one hundred contained three families. As we shall have to recur to this subject again, we pass on now, merely remarking that these "tenement sections" of the city, as they are called, are more crowded now than ever, the increase in buildings having fallen far behind the increase of the population in the last eight years.

This mixed population makes New York a thorough cosmopolitan city; yet at the same time it is eminently American. Although the native New York element is small in numbers, its influence is very great. Besides this, numbers flock to the city from all parts of the Union, and this constant influx of fresh American vitality does much to keep the city true to the general character of the country.

It has been well said, that "New York is the best place in the world to take the conceit out of a man." This is true. No matter how great or flattering is the local reputation of an individual, he finds upon reaching New York that he is entirely unknown. He must at once set to work to build up a reputation here, where he will be taken for just what he is worth, and no more. The city is a great school for studying human nature, and its people are proficients in the art of discerning character.


At night the number of intoxicated persons increases. You will then see all classes of drunkards. There goes a young man, handsomely dressed evidently the son of a rich family, unable to stand by himself, and piloted by a friend whose chief care is to avoid the police. There is a clerk, whose habits will soon lose him his situation. Here is a woman well dressed, too, reeling along at a rate which will soon carry her into the arms of the policeman. The high and the low are represented on the streets.

The bar-rooms and beer-gardens are in full blast, and will not close until midnight. The better class establishments are quiet and orderly but the noise and confusion increases as we descend the scale of the so-called respectability of these places. The sale of liquors is enormous, and the work of destruction of body and soul that is going on is fearful. The bar-rooms, beer-gardens, restaurants, clubs, hotels houses of ill-fame, concert-halls and dance-houses, are doing an enormous trade, and thousands are engaged in the work of poisoning themselves with drink.

Respectable men patronize the better class bar-rooms, and respectable women the ladies' restaurants. At the latter places a very large amount of money is spent by women for drink. Wives and mothers, and even young girls, who are ashamed to drink at home, go to these fashionable restaurants for their liquor. Some will drink it openly, others will disguise it as much as possible. Absinthe has been introduced at these places of late years, and it is said to be very popular with the gentler sex. Those who know its effects will shudder at this. We have seen many drunken women in New York, and the majority have been well dressed and of respectable appearance.

A lady recently went into a confectionery store to purchase some bonbons. She was handsomely dressed, and was quite pretty. As the proprietor was making up her parcel he saw her stagger and fall. Hastening round to the front of the counter, he found her lying helpless on the floor, dead drunk.

Standing at our window one day last winter, we noticed two ladies evidently a mother and daughter, come out of one of the most fashionable private residences in the city, where they had been visiting. They waited on the corner for a car, which was seen coming around the park, and to our astonishment we saw the elder lady sit down flat in the street. She was instantly jerked up by the younger woman whose expression of intense disgust we shall not soon forget. As the old lady got on her feet again, her unsteadiness revealed the cause of her singular conduct--she was drunk.

There is a depth of misery in New York which those who have not seen it, cannot conceive of. It exists among the poorer classes, who spend their earnings in drink. They are always half stupefied with liquor and are brutal and filthy. They get the poison from low shops, called Bucket Houses.

Softcover, 8" x 10¾", 320+ pages
Perfect-Bound - Larger Print 12 point font - Illustrated

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