(courtesy Museum of the City of New York)
The Museum of the City of New York released this photo today from their extensive archives, showing a former fixture of New York City life, which got its start on this date in 1833 with an unsung Irish American media pioneer.
The photo's caption read: "Today in 1833 a 10 year old boy named Barney Flaherty became the first newsboy after responding to an ad in the New York Sun. Newsboys became a prominent fixture in NYC life well into the 20th century. This fellow below was photographed ca. 1890 by Jacob Riis."
Flaherty was most likely an entrepreneur as well, because newsboys were not newspaper employees but instead free agents who bought their papers at a discount and were unable to return unsold copies. It made for a very rugged life and a sole means of support for many thousands of homeless children (so it's no surprise that newsies would attract the attention of photographer and social reformer Jacob Riis who made this image). In New York, newsboys mounted several strikes and the Newsboys Strike of 1899 did force a change in the way leading papers compensated their streetwise sales agents. That strike is given the "all-singing, all-dancing" treatment in the Disney production Newsies, now on Broadway...where Barney Flaherty may have once plied his trade. MEDIA PINGS: - Starting Wed., Sept. 5 the 1st Irish Festival comes to theaters around NYC in a month long celebration of Irish and Irish American playwrights. Event organizer George Heslin has put together a great-looking schedule that includes Hard Times, a musical by Larry Kirwan featuring Stephen Foster songs reworked by the Black 47 frontman- On Tues., Sept 18 at 6:30 pm, 1st Irish will hold a free event at the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts. Called "Celtic Crossroads," a panel discussion that will explore the intersection of arts and business, an event co-sponsored by the Irish Business Organization of New York...with iconic singer & songwriter Judy Collins as their honoree, Irish American Writers & Artists are expecting a sellout crowd at their annual Eugene O'Neill Award Celebration on Mon., Oct. 15. Tickets are still available now, however, at www.i-am-wa.org/.- The Museum of the City of New York is a thriving institution on the Upper East Side dedicating to preserving and and interpreting NYC's vibrant history. Among its recent exhibits: a retrospective on Irish American architect Kevin Roche.