General info.

This was the very first lodging house for children opened by the CAS in Manhattan or, indeed, by anyone or anywhere else. It was the first of the DSLH's two predecessors.

Where was it located?

It stood on the southwest corner of Fulton and Nassau Streets.

When did it open its doors?

March 18, 1854.

Building details.

It was located on the sixth floor (the top floor) of the building occupied by the Sun (the Sun would later move its offices to Park Row). Compare this to the DSLH only twenty years in the future, which would take up an entire seven-story building on its own.

The printing offices were on the first five floors. At the top of the narrow staircase, on the left, was a whitewashed door labeled "Newsboys' Lodging-House." The LH consisted of two rooms, one for general assembly and one for sleeping. The whole was gas-lit and well-ventilated.

The outer room was for lectures, schooling, conversation, reading, etc. Its many windows overlooked Fulton and Nassau Streets. Large enough to possibly fit 100 boys for schooling, it held desks and chairs donated by the (dismantled) Public School Society. At one end of the room was a platform with a railing, and with a desk and two or three chairs; this was used by the Superintendent, instructors and visiting speakers. Around the walls were bookcases, maps and prints. A stove sat in one corner.

Also in this room, but separated from it by a glass and wood partition, was the Superintendent's small office.

The dormitory was a larger room than the outer room, approximately 40 feet by 60 feet, neat and well-ventilated by many windows. It had "neat wooden berths, each containing two straw beds with warm coverings" (New York Daily Times, Mar. 20, 1854), including comforters and clean sheets. A wash-room contained baths and wash-bowls with warm water.

How many boys could it hold?

There were fifty beds, with space to add another thirty-five if needed.

How much did it cost?

Right from the start, a night's lodging was six cents. Even fifty years later, this price remained, although in the intervening time it went up as high as eight cents (including supper) and as low as five.

The earliest days.

Boys who were invited to spend the first night at the new LH were, according to Campbell, wary of the generous offer, and in fact planned to have a "general scrimmage" in the school-room and bedroom after the lights went out. This was quickly halted by the staff almost before it began, the boy who began it was gently turned out, and the remainder settled in for a night in their new soft beds.

On its first night, the LH housed 24 boys; the next night there were 26, then 30.

Was dinner provided?

By Oct. 1854 there was still no dinner at the LH. Boys ate their dinner where they could and then arrived at the LH for a night's education and lodging. I am not sure when meals began to be provided. Starting June 12, 1859, a free Sunday dinner was given to any boy who abstained from working that day. By Feb. 1860, a free supper was being offered to boys if they came in early (after eating they could not leave for the rest of the night without permission). Alternatively, I have also read that by 1860, the cost for one night was changed to eight cents, which included both lodging and supper (this was meant as a way to deter the boys from going to the theatre, as they would miss supper if the went to the show). I do not know how long the free suppers/eight-cent combination lasted, although Supt. O'Connor reported in the Feb. 20, 1860 New York Times that the free Sunday dinners were still going strong, and that since it began, "2,400 boys have been saved from the necessity of working on the Sabbath."

Music lessons.

In the first year, Mr. Tracy, the first Superintendent, set up music lessons for the boys. He arranged for a vocalist to teach singing, and obtained music-books, two accordions, and a violin.

The savings bank.

This was started within the first 6 months of the LH's opening; improvident spending and gambling were already well-known newsboy vices. The bank consisted of a large walnut table with hundreds of coin-holes in the top, and two drawers beneath, divided into compartments. Each hole corresponded with a compartment and was numbered; each boy using the bank had his own number. This system would continue throughout the later LHs. The bank was opened only once every two months, with a five percent interest. A boy might accumulate two or three dollars (already a large sum, given that these were boys unaccustomed to saving their money) or even as much as five or fifteen dollars.

The Superintendent.

There were at least three Superintendents while the Fulton Street LH was in operation:

The first was a Mr. Tracy, for whom I have not yet found a first name. Not only did he set up music lessons for the boys, but in investigating the boys' individual situations he seemed quite sympathetic to their plight. In several cases described in articles in the New York Times and Five Points Missions Report, he cited parents who were neglectful, too harsh, or drunk, driving their boys to seek their living and lodging on the streets. In A Voice from the Newsboys (1860), he is portrayed as a kind and understanding man. Eventually, he left the LH but continued to work for the CAS, finding homes in the West for children.

The second was C. Weigand. I do not know exactly when he began or ended his term, but an article in the NYT Sept. 17, 1858 names him as Superintendent.

The third was Charles O'Connor, mentioned as early as Feb. 1860. He would continue to be Supt. though the LH's move to Park Place and then to Duane Street, until his death in 1887.


The following three links are to illustrations from the NYPL Digital Gallery. A handwritten note on each of them says "HW May 18, 1867 Newsboys' Lodging House N.Y.C." The images are originally from Harper's Weekly, hence the "HW."

How they sleep
Note the numbers posted on the wall behind each set of bunks.

Wash room