PODCAST We’re in the mood for a good old-fashioned Gilded Age story so we’re bringing back one of our favorite Bowery Boys episodes ever — Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst vs. the newsies!
It was pandemonium in the streets. One hot summer in July 1899, thousands of corner newsboys (and girls) went on strike against the New York Journal and the New York World. Throngs filled the streets of downtown Manhattan for two weeks and prevented the two largest papers in the country from getting distributed.
In this episode, we look at the development of the sensationalist New York press — the birth of yellow journalism — from its very earliest days, and how sensationalism’s two famous purveyors were held at ransom by the poorest, scrappiest residents of the city. The conflict put a light to the child labor crisis and became a dramatic example of the need for reform.
Crazy Arborn, Kid Blink, Racetrack Higgins and Barney Peanuts invite you to the listen in to this tale of their finest moment, straight from the street corners of Gilded Age New York.
PLUS: Bonus material featuring a closer look at the Brooklyn Newsboys Strike and a moment with the newsies during the holidays.
Or listen to it straight from here:
The Bowery Boys #219: NEWSIES ON STRIKE
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For related images for this week’s show, I’m turning to the extraordinary Lewis Wickes Hine, one of the first photographers to ever turn his lens towards the poor and disadvantaged with the express purpose of public activism.
Here is a collection of Hine photographs of newsboys (and some girls), taken from the late 1890s into the early 1920s. Where possible, I will try and include Hine’s original caption and will feature a selection of images from cities across the country.
Perhaps you will see the face of your grandfather or great-grandfather here? These pictures are equally charming, concerning, life-affirming, tragic,
Pictures courtesy the Library of Congress. Our thanks to them for continually providing great access to their marvelous trove of images.
“Group of newsies (youngest 10 years) selling Boston papers at noon. In Barre and Montpelier newsies are excused from school a little early at noon and at night in order to get to their papers earlier. Location: Barre, Vermont” December 18, 1916 — one century old
One of the newsies at The Newsboys’ Picnic, Cincinnati. Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, August 1908
“11:00 A. M . Monday, May 9th, 1910. Newsies at Skeeter’s Branch, Jefferson near Franklin. They were all smoking. Location: St. Louis, Missouri.” May 9, 1910″
“Two newsies selling in P.M. Grand Avenue. May 9th, 1910. Location: St. Louis, Missouri.”
“Newsies selling near saloon. Location: St. Louis, Missouri.”
“Just newsies.” Location: St. Louis, Missouri. May 1910
“In comparison with governmental affairs newsies are small matters. This photo taken in the shadow of the National Capitol where the laws are made. This group of young newsboys sells on the Capitol grounds every day, ages 8 years, 9 years, 10 years, 11 years, 12 years. The only boy with a badge, was the 8 year old, and it didn’t belong to him. Names are Tony Passaro, 8 yrs. old, 124 Schottes Alley N.E.; Joseph Passaro, 11 yrs. old, (has made application for badge) Joseph Mase (9 yrs. old), 122 Schottes Alley. Joseph Tucci, (10 yrs. old), 411 1/2 5th St., N.E. Jack Giovinazzi, 228 Schottes Alley, 12 yrs. old. Is in ungraded school for incorrigibility in school. Location: [Washington (D.C.), District of Columbia].” April 1912
“Some of the youngest newsies hanging around the paper office after school. Location: Buffalo, New York (State)” February 1910″
“Newsies selling on Court St., 8 P.M. Left to right: Frank Spegeale, 13 years old, 72 Terrace St.; Dominick Gagliani, 10 years old, 230 Court St.; Charlie Decarlo, 8 years old; Anthony Decarlo (brother) 13 years old, 32 Front Ave.,. Location: Buffalo, New York (State)” February 10, 1910
“Group of Nashville newsies. In middle of group is 7-year-old Sam. Smart and profane. He sells nights also. Location: Nashville, Tennessee.” November 1910
Lewis met a lot of profane kids apparently! “Two 7 year old Nashville newsies, profane and smart, selling Sunday. Location: Nashville, Tennessee.”
Beaumont is overrun with little newsies. This boy, Vincent Serio, eight years old, is up at 5:00 A.M. daily. “Have sold papers since I was four years old.” Location: Beaumont, Texas. November 1913
“Tony and Charlie a pair of six year old newsies. Location: Beaumont, Texas. November 1913”
And now for a few of their New York brothers:
“Group of newsies hanging around Long Acre Square waiting for the theatre to close. Photo taken at the Victoria Theatra [i.e., Theatre], B'[road]way and 42nd St. James Thorpe (boy selling paper) 8 yrs. 640 10th Ave. Richard Farrell, 13 yrs., same address. Harry Farrell, 10 yrs., same address. August Habich, 10 yrs., same address. 10:30 P.M. Oct.’, 1910. Location: New York, New York (State)”
“In foreground–14 yrs. old Nathan Weis. He comes all the way from East New York in Brooklyn (435 W. Jersey St.) to sell pages at the 14th St. Subway entra[n]ce. St. 11 P.M. with one exception, I saw no other small newsies on 14th St. between 5th and Third Ave. Location: New York, New York (State)” October 1910
“Newsies. Bowery. Frank & Johnnie Yatemark. 12 Delancey St. Location: New York, New York (State), July 1910”
“Park Row Newsies. July 1910”
“N.Y. Newsies. Location: New York, New York (State)”
And just to demonstrate Hine’s thoroughness, he even went out to the West Coast, searching for newsboys in action.
“Newsies. Location: Los Angeles, California. May 1916”
The famous Newsboys Lodging House at 9 Duane Street. Date of photograph unknown, taken by Robert L. Bracklow (1849-1919). Courtesy Museum of the City of New York