Orphan Trains

WHAT? and WHY?


This journey began in 1854 until 1929. The Big Apple used to be very over populated during the time the Great Depression kicked in.

The trains weren't really convenient in the beginning of transporting children due to the lack of money to fund the rides. However, towards the end of the 20th century, the trains became much nicer and even had sleeper carts'. This allowed the children to have a much more comfortable and hopefull journey to their new beginning.

WHY? WHat was the need too?

Charles Loring Brace founded the Children’s Aid Society to help these children that were on the streets. He believed that these children have no future on the streets, so creating foster homes across the nations would act as light towards their future. Once the children arrived at the station they would go out and be “inspected” by other fathers and mothers, this was called "adoption."

Orphan Train Riders?

Orphan Train Riders were an estimated 30,000 children abandoned on the streets. Over the course of these trains, an estimated 150,000-200,000 orphans were relocated into a new environment.

These riders were:

  • homeless
  • had half-parents; parental death
  • neglected and abandoned by parents
  • overpopulation of NYC
  • abusive family

The Adoption

The riders were treated very nicely, however, there were some families that adopted the kids as hired help or an extra hand, and were never really accepted into the family. Officials did what they could to screen families, which is why many kids were able to find loving homes. However, there were many kids who still faced that slum filled life.

Stories..by the riders

Want to know more?

Hear stories from the relatives and the descendants of the New York Orphan Train Riders, sharing their story of the train life and new hope.
Stories of the Orphan Train Riders

The End, Why?

  • The period of the Great Depression started to kick in. Families were unable to feed another child, thus, chose to keep from taking children.
  • New laws were kept in place to benefit the children it was difficult for the trains to carry children across states.

By: Mallika Saini and Domenick DeAngelis