You’re Under Arrest! Why The NYPD Would Arrest You In 1905

The Crimes That Got You Arrested in New York City In 1905

New York City police bringing suspects into the station. (circa 1900)

New York City police bringing suspects into the station. (circa 1900)

The police make more arrests now In New York City than they did In 1905. Of course the population has doubled from what it was in 1905. But it’s the type of arrests that were made 111 years ago that are quite different from today.

Among the 4,014,304 people living in New York City in 1905 with almost 2 million foreign born and many of them poor, you would think there would be a lot of crime. And there was, but most of it was not violent. In 1905, there were 198,356 arrests for the year, with about 90 percent of them being misdemeanors.

So what crimes were New Yorkers charged with? The following information was taken from the Report of the Police Department of the City of New York for the Year Ending December 31, 1905. Below are 1905’s top 13 offenses with the number of people arrested by the NYPD and the offense they committed:

52,316 Intoxication / Intoxication and Disorderly conduct
39,972 Disorderly conduct
17,584 Violation of Corporation Ordinances
11,731 Assault and Battery
8,592 Disorderly Person
8,333 Vagrancy
7,991 Suspicious Person
6,880 Petit Larceny
5,031 Grand Larceny
3,939 Violation of Liquor Tax Law
3,795 Violation of Health Law
2,810 Felonious Assault
2,279 Burglary

In the breakdown of the hundreds of offenses that people were arrested for, here are some facts that might surprise you.

New York City police turned a blind eye to the oldest profession as only 13 people were arrested for prostitution. 10 for possessing or selling obscene pictures. 49 for arson. 16 for murder and 711 for homicide- (I never realized  there was a technical difference between murder and homicide)!

Six were arrested for cruelty to children, yet 535 were arrested for cruelty to animals.

Incredibly only one person was arrested for bookmaking (taking bets). And one person was arrested for incest.

Now here are the number of arrests for some offenses that are not as common anymore:

55  Bigamy
336 Illegal voting
51 Keeping opium joint
69 Mayhem
75 Violation of Barber Law
10 Violation of Concert Law
1,053 Violation of Sabbath Law
92 Seduction
59 Sodomy
1,668 Abandonment (1,640 of those arrested were men for leaving their family)
410  Bastardy (fathering a child born out of wedlock)

It’s a good thing bastardy was decriminalized in 1974, otherwise today you’d have tons of celebrities and athletes in jail.

There are various breakdowns of those arrested.

Out of 198,356 people arrested 192,450 could read and write. Only 5,906 people arrested were illiterate.

The largest group of people arrested were born in the United States, 85,252. Those U.S. born that were black numbered 9,718. Persons born in Russia, Italy, Ireland and Germany each had over 10,000 people arrested. Only 14 people arrested were from Puerto Rico, Six people were from India, two from Bulgaria and one from Lapland.

The most common occupation of those arrested were laborers with 37,367. The least common occupations with one person arrested in each occupation were a lamp lighter and a notary public.

There were 25 jockeys arrested. Ragpickers accounted for 347 of those arrested. 494 people held the bygone occupation of tinsmith.

The busiest precinct was the 19th precinct (then located at 137 W. 30th St.) with 12,233 arrests.

For a brief comparison to modern New York City, in 2013 with a population of about 8.3 million people there were a total of 316,216 arrests: 225,684 for misdemeanors and 90,532 for felonies.

The total number of murders (not arrests) was 335, a sharp decline from 1905 and an even steeper drop from 1990 when 2,245 murders were committed in New York City.

The majority of arrests today in New York City are for drug related offenses.

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