During the early twentieth century, New York bustled with immigrants, industry, and the galloping sound of urban cowboys. In Tenth Avenue Cowboy, Ben moves to the city and meets these legendary riders, who warned street traffic about approaching trains. Here are several resources to pair with this wonderful, wistful story.
- “West Side Cowboy Ensures Safety on 10th Avenue 1930s Meatpacking Chelsea NYC”from Untapped New York on YouTube
This video shows a Tenth Avenue cowboy at work in the 1930s, mingling with pedestrians and automobiles on the street.
- “High Line History, Narrated by Ethan Hawke” from Friends of the High Line on YouTube
This short documentary follows the history of Tenth Avenue’s railroads, from the street’s dangerous days as “Death Avenue” to the recent development of the High Line public park.
- “Working from Home in 1905: Making Paper Flowers”from Tenement Museum on YouTube
Exploring working-class life in the early twentieth century, this craft tutorial and history lesson shows one way children like Ben might have helped support their families.
FOR ALL AGES
- Peppe the Lamplighter by Elisa Bartone, illustrated by Ted Lewin
Set in turn-of-the-century New York, this Caldecott Honor book shares another job children like Ben often had—lamplighter.
- New York History for Kids: From New Amsterdam to the Big Appleby Richard Panchyk
Combining fascinating facts and engaging activities, this book follows New York’s development from Dutch settlement to American metropolis.
In Ben’s time, Hell’s Kitchen was flooded by a constant stream of immigrants, including many from Italy. This warm picture book retells the journey the author’s great-grandfather took from Sorrento, Italy to New York City.
FOR EDUCATORS AND OLDER READERS
- How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York by Jacob A. Riis
During the early twentieth century, photographer Jacob A. Riis recorded the difficult lives of New York’s poor and working classes. This book collects his work and captures the filthy conditions of the era’s tenement buildings.
- The Bowery Boys: Adventures in Old New York: An Unconventional Exploration of Manhattan’s Historic Neighborhoods, Secret Spots and Colorful Characters by Greg Young
and Tom Meyers
Written by the hosts of the podcast of the same name, this book shares stories from the history of New York. Chapter “The High Line and the Legend of Death Avenue” features the cowboys, as well as photos and newspaper articles from the period.
- On the High Line: Exploring America’s Most Original Urban Parkby Annik La Farge
To avoid the dangers of the street-level line, an elevated train line was built along Tenth Avenue in the 1930s. When the High Line closed in the 1980s, it lay abandoned for decades. Eventually those tracks were transformed into the High Line park, which attracts millions of visitors each year. This book follows the park’s walking path and highlights local history along the way.
- The High Line Park, Gansevoort Street to 34th Street, New York
Built along the tracks of the old High Line railroad, this public park features a 1.45-mile walkway lined with native plants and art installations. As they stroll above the city, visitors can trace the path the Tenth Avenue Cowboys once rode.
- Tenement Museum, 97 and103 Orchard Street, New York
Located on New York’s Lower East Side, this museum preserves two tenement buildings as they were in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Their collection focuses on the everyday lives of New York’s poor and working classes, as well as the immigrant experience in America.
- Death Avenue Plaque, 315 Tenth Avenue, New York
Commemorating those who lost their lives along the tracks, this plaque includes a photograph of the area—and a Tenth Avenue Cowboy—circa 1898. Visitors can turn around and imagine what the bustling street would have been like over a hundred years ago.