No. 583
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
November 30, 2022

Another Steamboat Disaster.

New York City, -- The Steamboat Riverdale blown up, August 28th – Rescuing the passengers.
October 3, 2016
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Fifteen-year-old Jody Randall of Long Beach, California, was in most ways a typical suburban teenager.  The one thing that set her apart was a passion for antiques which was unusual for someone of her youth.  As a result of spending all her available free time (and her parents’ money) on her hobby, she eventually amassed some impressive pieces, including a doll collection noteworthy enough to
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Strange Company - 11/28/2022
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Shell and Pea Game on the Trail"Sketched from life by M. W. Newberry"San Francisco ChronicleApril 10, 1898(Click image to enlarge)    UNKO MEN AND THEIR TRICKS      A wonderfully detailed description of the modus operandi of Soapy Smith's three shell and pea manipulators along the Chilkoot and White Pass trails. Witnessed and reported by Joseph D. Barry, and published in the San Francisco
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 11/21/2022
Working as a domestic servant in 19th century New York City had plenty of challenges. Sure, servants received room and board in addition to their wages, and they usually had at least Sunday afternoon off. But living in another family’s home was isolating and lonely—particularly if you didn’t speak English or weren’t accustomed to urban […]
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Ephemeral New York - 11/28/2022
On this date in 2002, Pakistani Mir Aimal Kansi, Kasi, or Qazi was executed by lethal injection in Virginia, U.S.A. “Real angry with the policy of the U.S. government in the Middle East, particularly toward the Palestinian people,”* Qazi on January 25, 1993 revenged himself on Central Intelligence Agency commuters queued for a left turn […]
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Executed Today - 11/14/2022
Museum of the City of New YorkWilliam Howe and Abraham Hummel were the most successful criminal lawyers in Gilded Age New York. With a combination of skill, showmanship, and unethical practices, they defended most of the city’s significant criminals and many of its murderers. Whether they won or lost, Howe and Hummel made every trial sensational. Here are a few of the many accused murderers
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Murder By Gaslight - 11/26/2022
Wishing you a happy and bountiful Thanksgiving Day! Lizzie is thankful for turkey and all the trimmings – and no mutton broth in sight!
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 11/22/2022
An article I recently wrote for the British online magazine, New Politic, is now available online. The article, “The Criminal Origins of the United States of America,” is about British convict transportation to America, which took place between the years 1718 and 1775, and is the subject of my book, Bound with an Iron Chain: […]
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Early American Crime - 12/17/2021
Watched her Lovers Fight. | A Man under Her Bed.

Another Steamboat Disaster.

Steamboat Explodes

New York City, -- The Steamboat Riverdale blown up, August 28th – Rescuing the passengers. [more]

A sad disaster occurred on the North River, off New York City, on the afternoon of August 28th, when the steamer Riverdale burst her boiler and sunk in mid-stream. The Riverdale made daily trips between this city and Haverstraw, Dobbs Ferry, Tarrytown, Yonkers, and other places up the river, and carried both freight and passengers. She had started from the Harrison Street pier, where about fifty people had boarded her, and was to take on most of her passengers at the foot of West Twenty-Second Street. As she approached that point, the pier was seen to be occupied by another vessel and the Riverdale reduced her speed. The steamer was nearly opposite the foot of Twentieth Street, and was about 150 rods from the shore, when a dull, heavy sound, like the fall of a ponderous hammer, was heard, followed by the uprising of a dense cloud of smoke, steam and flying splinters. The pilot-house and smoke-stack were thrown high in the air, and the vessel soon began to sink, disappearing from view within ten minutes. About one-half of the persons on board had distributed themselves upon the upper decks, fore and aft, while several women and children were in the after cabin. Many of them were blown into the air or thrown into the river by the shock, two being killed outright by the explosion, and a third drowned while two others died within a few hours from their injuries. Fifteen more persons were injured and the loss of life would have been much greater if a large fleet of tug-boats and row-boats which were near by had not gone immediately to the rescue. The Riverdale was an old boat, built about thirty-five years ago, and had twice changed her name. She met with an accident a year ago which would have been terribly fatal had she been laden with passengers. The drumhead of her steamchest blow off as she lay ate her dock waiting for a load of Coney Island passengers, and the steam poured forth in volumes, sweeping away the upper deck. Experienced river men say that she has been unsafe for many years, and the disaster has provoked a loud demand for a more effective inspections and government of the steamers which ply our rivers.


Reprinted from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, September 8, 1883.