It’s not every day you awaken to an organ grinder playing a loud, German street organ while walking down the middle of your street. I heard the sound and couldn’t figure out what was going on. Alas, this is what I saw from my balcony.
Organ grinders became popular street performers in the early 19th century. They were typically lower-class or immigrant men. The organs ranged from portable ones that could be worn around the neck to more elaborate cart-driven models weighing several hundred pounds.
The organ grinder typically roamed neighborhoods and collected money via a donation cup atop the organ or a pet (usually a white-headed Capuchin monkey) that would perform tricks and collect coins from passers-by.
Organ grinders were considered nuisances and were ultimately banned in cities like New York, London and Paris throughout the 1900’s.