Posts Tagged ‘the Tenderloin New York City’

A Chelsea block lined with brothels in the 1870s

December 29, 2012

27thstreetsignToday, 27th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues is kind of a mishmash of wholesale business and small shops anchored on the western end by the Fashion Institute of Technology.

It was a different world in the 1870s, when the block ground zero for prostitution, with 22 houses of ill repute lining both sides of the street.

That’s in addition to dozens of other brothels on nearby blocks. This was the city’s post–Civil War neighborhood of vice, called the Tenderloin, a sinful stretch of 23rd to 42nd Streets between Sixth and Eighth Avenues.

107West27thstreetThe brothels of 27th Street were so notorious, they scored a mention in The Gentleman’s Companion, a guide to prostitution published in the 1870s, reports Andrew Roth in his book Infamous Manhattan.

Among the proprietors listed in the guide are “Mrs. Disbrow, 101; Mrs. Emma Brown, 103; Miss Maggie Pierce, 104; Joe Fisher, 105; Miss Dow, 106; Mrs. Standly, 107,” writes Roth.

Number 107, in the photo, is noteworthy because it’s the only original building left.

“Evidently the author of The Gentleman’s Companion didn’t think too much of the place, since his only comment is ‘the Ladies boarding-house at 107 West 27th St. is kept by Mrs. Standly and is very quiet.'”

“Not much of an endorsement, but better than the review received by her next-door neighbor . . . of which he warns that ‘the landlady and her servants are as sour as her wine,'” adds Roth.

The NYPD’s infamous “Clubber” Williams

November 16, 2009

Alexander “Clubber” Williams was an NYPD inspector in post–Civil War New York City; as captain of the precinct on 35th Street, he’s credited with breaking up the fearsome Gas House Gang that lorded over the East 30s, then known as the Gas House District.

ClubberwilliamsIn 1876 he was transferred to a precinct on West 13th Street, where he’d have jurisdiction over a high-crime area centered around Broadway from the 20s to about 42nd Street thick with theaters, gambling dens, and prostitutes.

Remarking on his new assignment, he supposedly told a friend, referring to the protection money he was likely to receive from gambling operators and madams, “I have had chuck for a long time, and now I’m going to eat tenderloin.”

The name Tenderloin stuck for this seedy neighborhood. Formerly known by the fantastically colorful moniker Satan’s Circus, it was one of the city’s worst. Williams earned the title “Czar of the Tenderloin” for his rough and ready crime-prevention tactics.

Brought up on corruption charges several times over the years, Williams always beat the rap. And when accused of using excessive force, he replied, “There is more law at the end of a policeman’s nightstick than in a decision of the Supreme Court.”

In 1895, Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt had him retire. Williams insisted until his death in 1917 that he’d never clubbed anyone “that did not deserve it.”


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,666 other followers