About halfway through George Lippard's New York: Its Upper Ten and Lower Million (1853), the narrator extends a dubious invitation to the reader: “Let us descend into the subterranean world, sunken somewhere in the vicinity of Five Points and the Tombs.” Open a scarcely distinguishable door,” he instructs,

Descend a narrow stairway, or rather ladder, which lands you in the darkness, some twenty feet below the level of the street. Then, in the darkness, feel your way along the passage which turns to the right and left, and from left to right again, until your senses are utterly bewildered. At length … after groping your way you know not how far, you descend a second ladder, ten feet or more, and find yourself confronted by a door. You are at least two stories...

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