New York by Gas-light and Other Urban Sketches

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University of California Press, 1990 - History - 251 pages
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First published in 1850, New York by Gas-Light explores the seamy side of the newly emerging metropolis: "the festivities of prostitution, the orgies of pauperism, the haunts of theft and murder, the scenes of drunkenness and beastly debauch, and all the sad realities that go to make up the lower stratum—the underground story—of life in New York!" The author of this lively and fascinating little book, which both attracted and offended large numbers of readers in Victorian America, was George G. Foster, reporter for Horace Greeley's influential New York Tribune, social commentator, poet, and man about town. Foster drew on his daily and nightly rambles through the city's streets and among the characters of the urban demi-monde to produce a sensationalized but extraordinarily revealing portrait of New York at the moment it was emerging as a major metropolis. Reprinted here with sketches from two of Foster's other books, New York by Gas-Light will be welcomed by students of urban social history, popular culture, literature, and journalism.

Editor Stuart M. Blumin has provided a penetrating introductory essay that sets Foster's life and work in the contexts of the growing city, the development of the mass-distribution publishing industry, the evolving literary genre of urban sensationalism, and the wider culture of Victorian America. This is an important reintroduction to a significant but neglected work, a prologue to the urban realism that would flourish later in the fiction of Stephen Crane, the painting of George Bellows, and the journalism of Jacob Riis.
  

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Review: New York by Gas-Light and Other Urban Sketches

User Review  - Ed Brown - Goodreads

Professor Blumin's introduction to this series of narratives about New York night-life in 1850 makes clear how these stories of America's first metropolis must have resonated in a largely rural ... Read full review

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Contents

Broadway at Evening
69
The Model Artist Exhibitions
77
Bowling and Billiard Saloons
84
The Golden Gate of Hell
92
A Night Ramble
104
ButterCake Dicks
112
The Points At Midnight
120
The IceCreameries
132
Saturday Night
189
The City at DayLight
194
Selections from New York in Slices and Fifteen Minutes Around New York
199
A General Dash at the Ferries
201
The Mock Auctions
208
The EatingHouses
214
Wall Street and the Merchants Exchange
220
The Needlewomen
228

The DanceHouse
140
Theaters and Public Amusements
150
The Light Fantastic Toe
163
Mose and Lize
169
The DogWatch
178
A Plunge in the SwimmingBath
235
A Quarter of an Hour Under an Awning
240
Sunday in New York
246
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Understanding Stephen Collins Foster His World and Music
Understanding. Stephen Collins Foster. His World and Music. by. Joanne O’Connell. ba, University of Miami, 1971. ma, Florida International University, 2002 ...
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New York by Gas-Light and Other Urban Sketches
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About the author (1990)

Stuart M. Blumin is Professor of American History at Cornell University, and the author of The Emergence of the Middle Class: Social Experience in the American City, 1760-1900 (1989).

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