A few of the city’s top pop hits of the 1890s

As far as I know, there was no equivalent of the Billboard Hot 100 at the end of the 19th century. So it’s tough to know just how popular these tunes were.

But “Sidewalks of New York” is still a city anthem:

Down in front of Casey’s old brown wooden stoop
On a summer’s evening we formed a merry group
Boys and girls together we would sing and waltz
While Tony played the organ on the sidewalks of New York
East Side, West Side, all around the town
The tots sang “ring-around-rosie,” “London Bridge is falling down”
Boys and girls together, me and Mamie O’Rourke
Tripped the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York

The “New York and Coney Island Cycle March Two-Step” blends two trends—bicycles and Coney Island:

Now for a song as we go wheeling on,
And for the glorious “bike” we’ll shout,
It’s up to date in all that’s new and great,
This wonder that we sing about.
Your golf and polo and baseball will do,
Your Yacht and fishing may be fine,
They can’t compare, with pleasure rare,
That wheeling gives to all mankind.

This 1895 patriotic ditty seems to recall Civil War–era Brooklyn, its own city at the time, of course:

Up with the flag!
The flag that long has waved over Brooklyn’s city fair
To keep her sons in union strong
To bid them heed the motto there:
“Right makes might!”
Then up with right and down with wrong
Up with the flag and let it wave
Unhurt by factions with’ring blast
Oh Brooklyn’s loyal sons be brave
And nail it to the mast

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3 Responses to “A few of the city’s top pop hits of the 1890s”

  1. Josie Says:

    Love old-time sheet music! I remember being avid to buy sheet music for hit parade songs in the early 1950s, to play on the piano and sing. Fifty cents each. It’s wonderful that we still enjoy singing The Sidewalks of New York. Never heard of the other two, though. There’s a website somewhere about Coney Island that streams the “Coney Island Waltz” from the glamorous days of Luna Park. It has a transporting effect.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    I especially love the cover photos and illustrations. So rich and transporting, indeed.

  3. Upstate Ellen Says:

    The illustration on “New York and Coney Island Cycle March Two-Step” is striking! I bet it would make a great poster.

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