In 1983, the New York Museum of Folklore began a year-long celebration of 100th anniversary of Huckleberry Finn. Over 4,500 Mark Twain impersonators, drawn mainly from the South, were hired to fan out through the streets of the city reading from Twain’s work.
Many of these look-alikes left the city soon after, but 1,000 or more remained and settled permanantly. Under Mayor Koch, an employment program placed a few hundred itinerant Marks Twain as tourist guides and souvenir vendors. But most lacked any marketable skills and, sadly, many fell into poverty and vagrancy. Today, New Yorkers may notice older men with a striking resemblance to Samuel Clemens still shuffling about the city dispensing memorable quotations and anecdotes in exchange for a few coins or part of a sandwich.