It's easy to romanticize Old New York—but it wasn't always filled with cuddly subway graffiti, goofy beefsteak dinner traditions, and adorable billy club-wielding vigilantes. Back in the late 19th century, parts of Lower Manhattan were crime-ridden cesspools filled with tough looking b'hoys in intimidating bowler hats.

The photo above, taken in Bandit's Roost (aka 59½ Mulberry Street), comes from Jacob Riis's 1890 classic "How the Other Half Lives," "an early publication...documenting squalid living conditions in New York City slums in the 1880s." "How the Other Half Lives" is in the public domain, and you can download the full book here. Check out a video with more photos, taken from author Daniel Czitrom's book "Rediscovering Jacob Riis."

[h/t Boing Boing]