The Dangerous Classes-Then and Now

The Dangerous Classes-Then and Now

New Yorkers are no strangers to crime. In 1832, returning from a particularly raucous July 4 celebration, Philip Hone complained bitterly about the decline of the city of which he had once been mayor: “Squibs [firecrackers] were thrown with a perfect indifference to life and property, while ill-mannered boys shouted about the glories of a Republic.” He concluded that it “would take a Napoleon or a Caesar” to
govern New York effectively. A decade later, George Templeton Strong also lamented the changes that were sweeping over the “old” New York. From his home on Greenwich Street he could hear “sounds of drunkenness, mayhem and debauchery coming from Dutch lust-houses.” In the face of such plebeian antics, both Hone and Strong joined the first “flight” from the city to the suburbs, which in their time, and for their class, meant the residential gentility of the Fifteenth Ward above Bleecker Street.

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Duggan | University of California Press Gardels