While Jack Kelly (Christian Bale) is singing "Santa Fe", there's a part where he's riding a horse. The part when his arms are thrown out and he is bent back, he is actually riding on the shoulders of his stunt master.
Most of the newsies depicted in the film are based on real people from the strike such as Spot Conlon, Racetrack Higgins, Kid Blink. Jack Kelly, however, is a fabrication, though he may have been based on the real Kid Blink, who was accused of being bribed by Pulitzer to end the strike. David is most probably based on Morris Cohen, the other leader of the strike.
Although many newspaper moguls of the time hosted Christmas dinners and other holiday events for their newsboys, after the Newsboys Strike, Joseph Pulitzer even went as far as to host weekend events in vaudeville houses, the period equivalent of "Kids' night at the movies".
This movie was a critical and commercial flop upon its initial theatrical release. However, it gathered a cult following after its home video release, eventually made its filming budget back on rentals, and was deemed popular enough to be adapted into a stage musical, which premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey in 2011. The musical had music and lyrics by Alan Menken (who composed the movie's music as well) and Jack Feldman (the movie's lyricist), and a new book by playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein. This musical moved to Broadway in March 2012 and closed over two years later; a North American tour also launched in 2014.
The dress that Ele Keats (Sarah Jacobs) wears in the "High Times, Hard Times" number is an authentic 1899 dress. After every take, the costumer had to constantly sew up small holes because the dress was so old and delicate.
At the end of every week, the newsies took it upon themselves to torment director Kenny Ortega. When an upturned bucket of water missed its mark, Christian Bale and David Moscow soaked him with, as Ortega described it, "Water Uzis."