On December 28, 1873, after a terrible economic recession descended on New York—bringing with it unemployment and eviction—the New York Times sounded the alarm on a new urban threat.
“At the present time there is supposed to be at least 3,000 vagrants in this City, while there is a large number who travel from place to place, either begging as they go along, or doing odd jobs for their meals,” warned the front page article.
Tramps had arrived in New York—ragged, disconnected men who appeared on sidewalks and park benches in high numbers, scaring residents who felt they were “an army of the poor threatening respectable society,” states The Poor Among Us.
“The threat created by tramps was certainly…
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