The most wicked neighborhoods in Manhattan

The late 19th century sure was a good time to be bad in New York. Before being renamed SoHo in the 1970s, the blocks between Houston and Chambers were known by the fantastically descriptive name of Hell’s Hundred Acres. The moniker stuck when the nabe, upscale in the early 1800s, became a seedy red-light district, with deadly, tough-to-fight fires breaking out in the old cast-iron buildings for decades.

This 1850 lithograph, “Hooking a Victim,” in the Museum of the City of New York, shows the Hell’s belles in action:

I hear the old Provence space is going to reopen soon as a restaurant called “Hundred Acres,” suspiciously minus the Hell. Doesn’t sound right.

Another den of vice was the Tenderloin. Also called Satan’s Circus, it spanned 23rd to 42nd Street between Fifth and Seventh Avenues. Gambling, prostitution, saloons, and dance halls stayed open all night, as seen in this depiction from a nifty 1996 book called Infamous Manhattan, by Andrew Roth.

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2 Responses to “The most wicked neighborhoods in Manhattan”

  1. The “loud and lurid” Haymarket on 30th Street « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] and lurid” Haymarket on 30th Street By wildnewyork In the late 19th century, the Tenderloin district—from Madison Square to the West 40s along Broadway—was the city’s boozy, sleazy, […]

  2. Left behind street signage of old Manhattan | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] the time, this was the center of the Tenderloin, also called Satan’s Circus, the late 19th century sin district filled with dance halls, gambling dens, and […]

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