History and Meaning
The name "Barking Irons" comes from a 19th century slang term for pistols. The term was created by gangs of youths that haunted New York's infamous Bowery. The Bowery, a theatre district for much of the century, was a critical proving ground for indigenous American culture in the 19th century. Uniquely American art forms such as tap-dancing, minstrel shows, concert saloons, freak shows and vaudeville all gained popularity in the Bowery theatres of the time.
The cultural well-spring of New York's Bowery also helped to usher in a sexual revolution in the latter part of the 19th century. The Bowery continues to be a source of urban folklore and mythology.