Today, Bleecker Street near Mott Street is a pricey stretch of real estate.
But in 1883, Bleecker here featured “a row of houses of the lowest character” located “between the up-town feeders and the down-town cess-pools which they supply,” according to a New York Times article that year.
In other words, it was the perfect place for a home for fallen women: females who had given in to sin via sex, gambling, booze, or prostitution, or all of the above.
The Florence Night Mission, at 21 or 29 Bleecker (it’s listed at both addresses in separate source books), aimed to help these women. It was founded by Charles Crittenton in memory of his little daughter Florence.
The goal: “to reclaim the fallen women of the neighborhood, by providing them with lodging and food until they are strong enough to go out to work for themselves, and by Gospel meetings, which are held nightly at midnight,” states King’s Handbook of New York City, published in 1892.
I couldn’t find any information on how many women the mission helped or when it closed up shop.
But the Florence Night Mission wasn’t a one-home operation for long. By 1914, there 76 homes nationwide helping poor girls and women.
Tags: 19th century New York City, Bleecker Street, Bleecker Street history, Bleecker Street in the 19th Century, Charles Crittenton, fallen women, Florence Night Mission, King's Handbook of New York City, missions for fallen women, Mott Street, National Crittenton Foundation