Posts Tagged ‘tenderloin’

The most wicked neighborhoods in Manhattan

May 7, 2008

The late 19th century sure was a good time to be bad in New York. Before being renamed SoHo in the 1970s, the blocks between Houston and Chambers were known by the fantastically descriptive name of Hell’s Hundred Acres. The moniker stuck when the nabe, upscale in the early 1800s, became a seedy red-light district, with deadly, tough-to-fight fires breaking out in the old cast-iron buildings for decades.

This 1850 lithograph, “Hooking a Victim,” in the Museum of the City of New York, shows the Hell’s belles in action:

I hear the old Provence space is going to reopen soon as a restaurant called “Hundred Acres,” suspiciously minus the Hell. Doesn’t sound right.

Another den of vice was the Tenderloin. Also called Satan’s Circus, it spanned 23rd to 42nd Street between Fifth and Seventh Avenues. Gambling, prostitution, saloons, and dance halls stayed open all night, as seen in this depiction from a nifty 1996 book called Infamous Manhattan, by Andrew Roth.