Text and music by Charles B. Lawlor1 and James W. Blake, respectively, 1894. This highly romantic, nostalgic song describes poor, young Irish immigrants or children of immigrants waltzing together on the sidewalks outside their tenements in New York City in the late 1890s. The story goes2 that Lawlor, a composer and not-very-successful actor, wrote the tune while intoxicated one evening and then was whistling it the following day when he met lyrics-writer Blake who was the counterman at a hat shop. The two joined forces, Blake wrote the sentimental words we know today, and they sold the song for $5000. In 1895, it would be the best-selling sheet music in the country.

Down in front of Casey's,
Old brown wooden stoop,
On a summers evening,
We formed a merry group,
Boys and girls together,
We would sing and waltz,
While the "ginnie" played the organ
On the sidewalks of New York

East side, West side,
All around the town,
The tot sang "Ring a Rosie,"
"London Bridge is falling down."
Boys and girls together,
Me and Mamie O'Rourke,
Tripped the light fantastic,
On the sidewalks of New York

That's where Johnny Casey,
And little Jimmy Crowe,
With Jakey Krause the baker
Who always had the dough,
Pretty Nellie Shannon,
With a dude as light as cork,
First picked up the waltz step,
On the sidewalks of New York.

Things have changed since those times,
Some are up in "G,"
Others they are on the hog
But they all feel just like me,
They would part with all they've got,
Could they just once more walk,
With their best girl and have a twirl,
On the sidewalks of New York.

1. Lawton died in 1925; thus his copyright on the lyrics expired in 1995.
2. Hinckley, David. "From 'The Sidewalks of New York': Mamie O'Rourke." The New York Daily News copyright 2002.