Chapter

Children and Immigrants in Working-Class New York

in New York Undercover

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780226266091
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226266114 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226266114.003.0006
Children and Immigrants in Working-Class New York

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Founded in 1897 by Charles Sprague Smith, the People's Institute tried to address the issues affecting “the people” of New York by organizing events that appealed to a cross-section of the city's residents, including public lectures, concerts, holiday parties, and reduced-rate theater tickets for workers. The People's Institute employed undercover investigators and conducted social surveys to support its argument that there was a lack of safe, supervised amusement resources available to those in the tenement districts of New York City and its consequences to the municipal government. It succeeded in convincing city officials to centralize the departments that attended to recreation resources, and had a role in the creation of the New York City Committee on Recreation, which undertook “constructive” or ameliorative initiatives to resolve the many problems experienced by the city's immigrants and working class. Through their work with and on behalf of children, the People's Institute realized that immigrant adults residing in New York City's tenement districts also had unaddressed needs, particularly in regard to leisure time and recreational spaces.

Keywords: New York City; People's Institute; working class; immigrants; children; undercover investigators; amusement; recreation; leisure; tenement districts

Chapter.  9006 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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