Why were Finsterwald's front steps "the only un-sat-on front steps in town" in Maniac Magee?
All the kids in the neighborhood are afraid to tread on Finsterwald's property. Finsterwald is known as a menacing character, and although tales of what happens to those who dare venture close to his house are exaggerated to the point that they are almost mythical, they are enough to keep even the most adventurous individuals far away.
Finsterwald is an oddity in a town where people are generally neighborly. It is the kind of community where the children run from house to house playing with their friends and might often be seen gathered on each others' front steps or those of their neighbors in pleasant comaraderie. In stark contrast, Finsterwald's address is "infamous", and "kids (stay) away...the way old people stay away from Saturday afternoon matinees at a two-dollar movie". According to local lore, anyone who makes the mistake of "blundering onto Finsterwald's property" may very well turn up years later as "some poor, raggedy, nicotine-stained wretch...shuffling through town". Going too close to Finsterwald's can apparently lead to ultimate ruin; "if you valued your life", you stayed away under all circumstances (Chapter 5).