Posts Tagged ‘Social Realists NYC Paintings’

The final days of a 44th Street Gilded Age gambling house

February 7, 2022

Places like Canfield’s were the flip side of the Gilded Age—the not-so-secret gambling houses, brothels, and music halls that paid police and politicians to look the other way in the Tenderloin and other unsavory neighborhoods.

But the beginning of the Progressive Era caught up with Canfield’s in 1902, according to a New-York Tribune article. That year, detectives under the direction of District Attorney William Travers Jerome raided this gambling den at 5 East 44th Street and found “roulette tables, poker tables, and other gambling paraphernalia behind a secret panel in the wall,” per the Tribune.

Proprietor Richard Canfield paid a fine and sold the business. It might have been another forgotten vice spot in New York City’s backstory if social realist artist Everett Shinn, who had a knack for depicting the underside and underdogs of New York, had not immortalized it in this slushy scene in 1912.

“Here we are presented with another drab scene of urban life in New York City,” stated, in a 2016 commentary. “It’s winter, and by the looks of the couple hurrying away under an umbrella, it’s quite cold outside. A horse, carriage, and driver wait in front of the gambling house, and both figures look rather unhappy to be out in the quiet, snow and ice-covered streets.”