Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Roth Infamous Manhattan’

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 1910 disappearance of a rich young socialite

May 3, 2012

On December 10, 1910, Dorothy Arnold was just another 25-year-old Upper East Side heiress.

In six weeks, she’d be the most famous missing woman in New York City.

Wearing a tailored blue coat and stylish black velvet hat, Dorothy, a Bryn Mawr grad, left her parents’ home at 108 East 79th Street to shop for a gown at a Fifth Avenue department store.

After running into a friend and chatting about an upcoming society function, no one saw her again.

It was unlike Dorothy to just take off; she was known as a stable young woman making a go at a career as a writer.

“The Arnold family, eager to avoid scandal, kept the disappearance a secret from both the press and the police for six weeks, drafting private detectives instead,” wrote Andrew Roth in Infamous Manhattan.

By late January, when no trace of Dorothy turned up, they went public. Immediately, journalists dug up dirt.

Dorothy was having an affair with a Philadelphia man, but he claimed to know nothing of her whereabouts.

After thousands of dollars were spent looking for her and years passed, the case went cold.

“Various rumors claim that she died during an abortion, that she fell overboard from a ferryboat, or that her parents had banished their pregnant daughter to Switzerland,” wrote Roth. “Her disappearance remains a complete mystery.”