The problem in this picture is that  kids had to walk through endless rows of buttons and stuff just to sit down and work. I think that the problem could be solved If enough people care and enough people want to help other people every one will feel better. I think people should see pictures and decide to do something it would help everyone. same. same. same

Oral History





Hudson: Have you ever heard of the man Jacob Riis?Hudson: Welcome John. How did you get here?

John: Hi Hudson, thanks. I was 20 years old when I came from Germany. I had just arrived in New York City. I got off the boat with my friend Leonardo. We met on the boat and he was twelve, and he is Italian. On the boat, he said, “Erano è la strada ludlow.” “English?” I said back. “Oh. Where is Ludlow Street?” He sat down and we started to talk. I realised we lived together on Ludlow Street. We became friends. “Wir zusammen leben” which means we live together.


Hudson: What was it like that first night here in America?


John: We ate pasta for dinner with tomato sauce. It was good. Leonardo is a good cook. I ate a lot very fast. Leonardo got a bucket “don’t worry” I chuckled. I went down to get water for soup. That soup was good. I scarfed that down too. “Affamato?” Leonardo asked in Italian. I replied, “hungrid.”


Hudson: Were you part of a gang or something like that?


John: Yes. On the way to the apartment we met some Italian boys. They talked with Leonardo. They seemed to be friendly, and they decided to make a gang. I was voted as leader. We decided on an alley to meet at.


Hudson: What are some of the things you did in your gang?


John: We hung out in the alley, and we always needed money, so we beat up some newsies, and we took their money. I would say, “Verlierer,” which means “loser.”


Hudson: Did you work or did you just steal things from people?


John: I became a peddler. Leonardo helped me sell German and Italian things. I liked working. It was very fun. I enjoyed calling to people on the street to buy our goods.


Hudson: Did you hear about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire?


John: Yes. I read in the German newspaper, “gab es ein Feuer in dem Dreieck Hemdblusenfabrik letzte Nacht, und dass 146 kiesel starb sie wird es ein Streik heute.”

There had been a fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory the night before. 146 people died in the fire. I read that there would be a strike. I felt excited. I read in a newspaper letter, written by this girl Pauline Newman, that she would not stand for the conditions in sweatshops. To this day, I remember what she said, “In despair, I ask dear god will things ever be different?” I decided to strike that same night. I wondered, will it be picketing? Or will it be a full on strike?

John: Yes. I have heard of the man, Jacob Riis. He helped make tenements the way they are now using pictures, but I never met him. He took pictures of tenements to show wealthy people how horrible the conditions were. These photographs inspired change.


Hudson: Were you ever beaten up by a gang or another person?


John: Yes. Let me tell you the story. I was standing on the sidewalk when I heard a piercing noise. I looked up and saw the El. I wished I could ride that beautiful train, but I couldn’t afford to ride it and pay rent. While I was day dreaming, out of nowhere, someone came out and pounded me. Next thing I knew, I was in my bed with Leonardo standing by me. I ask him what had happened. He said that I had been beaten-up, but that I should be okay. Someone apparently had pounded me. It was probably a gang member from somewhere. I didn’t mind because it felt like when a newsie tried to fight back all those times I had beaten them up. I had a slight headache, but it really wasn’t that bad.


Hudson: What did you think of life on the Lower East Side?


John: Life was alright there, but it could have be better. America had a lot of cool things I had never seen before, like pickles in a barrell! I eventually moved out of the Lower East Side to Brooklyn, where I live now. I moved to Brooklyn because I heard that conditions weren’t as bad there, and I heard I could get a better apartment. Overall, I am happy I came to America, but I would like to go back to Germany someday, at least for a visit.