In about 1600, the potato first came to Ireland from the Americas. Many people weren't able to grow enough food for themselves as the Irish were starving from the war between the English rulers and the Irish, so the potato was quickly adopted around the country.
The Potato Famine
Potatoes were suddenly gorwing all over the country, often becoming people's only source of food. The Irish depended on the potato so much that their population shot up from less than three million to around eight million.
Then, in 1845, disaster struck. The awful disease poisoning potatoes in Canada had spread to Ireland! The Irish's main source of food had been poisoned, leaving 1/3 to 1/2 of their crops rotten and inedible.
Effects of the Potato Blight
Soon, the lack of edible potatoes had begun a famine. More than 700,000 people died from starvation, leaving the rest of the population to either find a way to get rid of the disease or leave the country.
The Irish had no choice but to leave their country and head for America, knowing that if they stayed in Ireland they would fall into poverty and starve. They boarded onto boats and went through the 'Golden Door' to the country with plenty of land and food.
Those that survived the trip by boat to the New World settled in the East coast, most deciding to live in New York. Because a lot of them were very poor, they were forced to live on the streets until they could find jobs to make money for them and their families.