The East Village’s most successful madam

They probably won’t devote a room to “Mother” Rosie Hertz down at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. But she was pretty notorious around the turn of the last century as a former prostitute from a Jewish immigrant family operating a string of brothels in the neighborhood, mostly on First and Second Streets east of the Bowery.

The daughter of a madam, she ran her businesses with her husband and extended family. Reportedly her dress was always modest, her head covered in a wig typical of observant Jewish women.

In 1912 she was arrested and convicted “of running a disorderly resort” at 218 East Ninth Street (photo above), as the New York Times discreetly informed the public.

Hertz eventually confessed that she had been paying protection money to the police. She was sentenced to year at Blackwell’s (Roosevelt) Island. Another Times article described her sentence in this headline: “Woman White Slaver Goes to Jail.”

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