Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York

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Macmillan, Nov 24, 2003 - History - 432 pages
28 Reviews
Luc Sante's Low Life is a portrait of America's greatest city, the riotous and anarchic breeding ground of modernity. This is not the familiar saga of mansions, avenues, and robber barons, but the messy, turbulent, often murderous story of the city's slums; the teeming streets--scene of innumerable cons and crimes whose cramped and overcrowded housing is still a prominent feature of the cityscape.

Low Life voyages through Manhattan from four different directions. Part One examines the actual topography of Manhattan from 1840 to 1919; Part Two, the era's opportunities for vice and entertainment--theaters and saloons, opium and cocaine dens, gambling and prostitution; Part Three investigates the forces of law and order which did and didn't work to contain the illegalities; Part Four counterposes the city's tides of revolt and idealism against the city as it actually was.

Low Life provides an arresting and entertaining view of what New York was actually like in its salad days. But it's more than simpy a book about New York. It's one of the most provocative books about urban life ever written--an evocation of the mythology of the quintessential modern metropplois, which has much to say not only about New York's past but about the present and future of all cities.
  

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Even the pictures are lame. - Goodreads
The writing is almost elegiac. - Goodreads
I suppose that is the downside of a general overview. - Goodreads

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - William345 - LibraryThing

This is a fascinating tour of New York's Bowery which in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a hotbed of gambling, prostitution, and nefarious cons working every conceivable angle on the city's ... Read full review

Review: Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York

User Review  - Kevin Hilke - Goodreads

"The children of privilege who were moving into tastefully done up flats and were about to start calling themselves New Yorkers, even Lower East Siders, and who might continue to live there without ... Read full review

Contents

Landscape
3
Home 23
23
Streets
46
Saloon Culture
104
ill Hop 141
141
Chance 152
152
Gangland 197
197
Coppers 236
236
Rubberneckers
289
Orphans 305
305
The Drift
313
in Bohemia 320
320
Carnival
339
Afterword
363
A Note on Sources 381
381
Notes
391

ill The Tiger
251
Sainthood
278

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About the author (2003)

Luc Sante was born in Verviers, Belgium, and now lives in New York City. He is the author of Evidence, The Factory of Facts, and Walker Evans, and his work has appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, and Harper's, among other publications. He teaches writing and the history of photography at Bard College.

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