Many of the immigrants coming to New York in the mid-1800s were poor and could not adequately care for their families. Many children ended up on the street with no home. In 1849, New York’s chief of police decided to bring attention to the street children as the city simply did not have the infrastructure and services to deal with thousands of homeless children. This resulted in children being placed in orphanages and some eventually becoming Orphan Train riders. This segment from the West by Orphan Train documentary includes archival photographs and an interview with Renée Wendinger, historian, author and daughter of an Orphan Train rider.
Check out the entire West by Orphan Train Collection.