Confusion and despair in the Tenderloin District

At night, the Tenderloin was the city’s red-light district during the turn of the century, a center of sex and sin that blazed with light and put high-rolling millionaires in proximity to lower-class drinkers, gamblers, showgirls, and prostitutes.


During the day, with its veil lifted, the Tenderloin revealed its gritty despair. In “Sixth Avenue and Thirtieth Street,” John Sloan depicts a confused, distressed woman as others stare or pass her by with indifference.

Sloan seemed to have a fascination with the Tenderloin; the same year, he painted the neighborhood’s “loud and lurid” club, the Haymarket.

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5 Responses to “Confusion and despair in the Tenderloin District”

  1. Keith Goldstein Says:

    Today’s Tenderloin –

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Great photos Keith. I particularly like the woman carrying the garbage bags and the old man sort of clutching his abdomen. There’s real distress in these faces.

  2. Bob_in_MA Says:

    Odds are good she’s soused and that’s a pail of beer she’s carrying. [Actually, now I see the Philly Museum of Art identifies it as such. ]

    Back then, the beer pail (often lidded) was called a growler, but I think in NY “duck” was the favored term. To “rush the duck” was to go fetch the beer, an errand children were often sent on.

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Ah, thanks for this. Confused…and three sheets to the wind. I have read references to a growler but I always pictured it as more of a jug-like container.

  4. Keith Goldstein Says:

    Thanks! For me, a lot of the old New York neighborhood names still exist. I hope the developers and gentrifiers don’t change them!

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