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Bandits' Roost: 1888

New York, 1888. "Bandits' roost, 59½ Mulberry Street (Mulberry Bend)." Gelatin silver print from a glass negative by the social reformer Jacob Riis (1849-1914). View full size.

New York, 1888. "Bandits' roost, 59½ Mulberry Street (Mulberry Bend)." Gelatin silver print from a glass negative by the social reformer Jacob Riis (1849-1914). View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Give her top billing

Absolutely and I will brook no argument, the most splendid and compelling component of this photo -- one for which there are not adequate superlatives -- is the ghost woman emerging from the doorway on the left. Even while dissolving, she is spine-tinglingly righteous.

Classy headgear

That's what I call a Moon Mullins hat.

Flower planters

Those "planters" to the left were "slack barrels", intended for dry products, not liquids. Staves were probably fir, hoops were likely split willow. Those willow hoops were joined into a circle with overlapping notches - no nails, as they were too expensive.

Next came the Mustache Pete's

Decade later sees a total demographic change there.

The second guy on the right I can't figure out

Is that a double barrel shotgun he's holding or an oak staff persuader of some sort??

Matt Damon?

Is this proof that Matt Damon is a time traveler? The closest tough bears a striking resemblance.

That's a nice camera

It would be a shame if something happened to it.

All bowlers are not equal

These tall-crown bowlers are the snazziest headwear ever. I love 'em. I wouldn't be caught dead in the ones with the shallow crowns, like British barristers wear, but these things are the bee's knees. I think Bat Masterson wore one like this.

Mulberry Bandits

"Mulberry Bend was considered one of the worst parts of the Five Points, with multiple back alleyways such as Bandit's Roost, Bottle Alley and Ragpickers Row. In 1897, due in part to the efforts of Danish photojournalist Jacob Riis, Mulberry Bend was demolished and turned into Mulberry Bend Park. The urban green space was designed by Calvert Vaux. In 1911 it was renamed Columbus Park."

Jacob Riis, "How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York", Charles Scribner's Sons (1890).

Let me see what’s down there --

-- you go first!

A different cropping

In an early printing of this photo, the most prominent figure is a woman standing by the trash barrels on the left. The famous version shifts right to the bowler-hatted tough and the shawl-wearing woman leaning from a window.

Not Doctor Seuss's Mulberry Street

His first children's book, "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street," was inspired by the street of that name in his hometown, Springfield, Mass.

Living History

Straight out of "The Gangs of New York".

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