July 21, 1899: “Newsboys’ Strike Spreads to Harlem”

Newsboys’ Strike Spreads to Harlem

Boycotters of the Evening World and Journal Sweep the Bowery and Uptowns Districts

Police Interfere Somewhat

Dozen Bluecoats Prevent Recourse to the Energetic Methods First in Vogue Among Youngsters

Public Meanwhile the Gainer
Saffron Hued Sheets Banished from Downtown Streets


The newsboys’ strike is still on, if General Master Workman Parson’s isn’t, and there has bean a dearth of poster type and “night editions” on the street all morning.

Not only is the boycott on the Evening World and Evening Journal, which the newsboys declared yesterday, still in operation, but it is being maintained with a rigor that has banished those hysterical sheets from nearly every part of the town.

The storm centre of the strike moved up on the Bowery this afternoon, and a crowd of nearly two hundred, carrying a big placard on a stick, swarmed down that thoroughfare, carrying everything before them. They visited every stationary news stand along the route and played havoc with the stock in trade of the noes who had attempted to disregard the boycott.

At Houston street they surrounded a one armed man who has a stand on the corner, but they found he had a sign up asking people to boycott the Evening World and Journal and buy the other papers. So the boys all yelled with approval and started down the Bowery.

At Rivington street they cound an Italian who was taking advantage of the boycott to sell the despised two papers. The boys at first threatened him with dire disaster and then began playing tricks on him.

In his anger he seized a big stick and started after one of the boys who had thrown something at him. The boy ran, taunting him, and he, forgetting everything else, followed. in a minute there was nothing left of his stand. It was overturned and his papers divided up among the crowd, torn into bits and thrown in the air.

The police saw the trouble from afar and charged down on the crowd, but the Bowery newsboys are accustomed to that sort of thing. They scattered and escaped, only to gather again a few blocks below.

Meanwhile the boycott spread to Harlem to-day. The general distributing points in Harlem for the objectionable newspapers is at Third avenue and 125th street. The boys assembled there this morning under the lead of “Pie-faced Jim.” They had placards pasted up here and there. Some of them were unique. Here are some samples:—




Down on the “Newspaper Row” it was comparatively quiet.

Usually the two papers in question have Park Row for their own. To-day the presence of a dozen big policemen in the Row interfered with the strikers somewhat. It kept them from dealing with suspects and out-and-out partisans of the tabooed papers with anything of the vigor that was the rule yesterday. But it did not help the backsliders in the least. They were not permitted to come within the radius of police activity.

Hundreds of the striking newsboys, armed with sticks and stones, paraded the neighborhood outside the police lines and saw to it that no would-be dealers in Worlds or Journals got near the delivery men.

One small boy, in a blue shirt, with a black eye, summed up the situation immediately about the boycotted offices in this way:—

“There’s too many cops around here now for any fun, but wait till we get them down on Wall street.”

The Wall street “extras” always cause a great rush of the boys to the financial district. Hence the covert reference to the chance that would then be afforded in the absence of extra police for handling the situation with vigor. So for the time being Park row and Frankfort street remained quiet, in a sense.

But the presentation of the strikers’ case has not been altogether in the shape of bricks and clubs. As a concession to the possibilities of moral sussion, apparently, many of the boys wore placards in their hats, urging people not to buy the boycotted sheets. Rudely improvised banners repeated the story, and one diplomat suggested that, as the two papers in question had been endeavoring to outscream each other in urging the trolley officials to arbitrate, here was a chance for them to follow their own advice and arbitrate with the boys.

Meanwhile the price of the two papers at latest accounts was still on a war basis. Naturally, the boys object to war-time prices in the absence of anything approaching the war-time demand.

Source: “Newsboys’ Strike Spreads to Harlem.” Evening Telegram, 21 July 1899, p. 2.