Posts Tagged ‘vice in 19th century New York’

Two of the wickedist bars on Bleecker Street

October 5, 2011

No, not Kenny’s Castaways—the bar that occupied this spot more than 100 years earlier, as well as another down the block.

From the 1870s through the turn of the century, Bleecker Street from MacDougal Street to LaGuardia Place was home to the most sinful “resorts” the city had ever known.

“The Slide on Bleecker Street was probably the first—and until recent times the last—open and undisguised gay bar in New York,” wrote Luc Sante in Lowlife.

Sante quotes an 1890 guide describing the Slide, at 157 Bleecker (left), as “the lowest and most disgusting place. The place is filled nightly with from 100 to 300 people, most of whom are males . . . . They are addicted to vices which are inhumane and unnatural.”

Another den of sin was the Black Rabbit, at 183 Bleecker. Anti-vice activist Anthony Comstock had the police arrest several patrons of this “hang-out,” as a New York Times article called it, in an October 1900 article on the raid.

[183 Bleecker today is the 1849 Restaurant, photo from]

“[Comstock] says also that he has never before raided a place so wicked, and that ‘Sodom and Gommorah would blush for shame at hearing to what depths of vice its habitues had descended,'” the Times stated.

Yikes! I wish they provided more details as to exactly what made it so evil.

If you have seven million dollars, you can own a piece of New York’s morally repugnant past; 157 Bleecker is up for sale.