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[Above photo: an 1853 Daguerreotype of Chatham Street, now Park Row, looking toward the Square] Tags: Bowery street, Chatham Square NYC, Chatham Street, City of Eros Gilfoyle, daguerreotypes New York City, New York in 1812, New York in the 19th Century, New York street, prostitution in New York City, sleazy street New York Posted in Bars and restaurants, Lower East Side, Lower Manhattan, Maps, Sketchy hotels, War memorials | 5 Comments » “Strangers visiting the city are struck by the number of women who are to be found on Broadway and the streets running parallel to it, without male escorts, after dark,” wrote James D. “They are known as Street Walkers, and constitute one of the lowest orders of prostitutes to be found in New York.” “They are nearly all thieves, and a very large proportion of them are but the decoys of the most desperate male garroters and thieves.” One common scam, Mc Cabe explains, was for a street walker to lure a tourist to her room in one of the subdivided “bed houses” in today’s Soho.
There, the street walker and a male confederate would rob the tourist while threatening his life.
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.
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Needless to say, Mayor Lindsay vetoed what he called a “drastic suggestion,” according to a article on August 9, 1972: “[Lindsay] spoke of the ‘basic moral question’ of legalizing prostitution, the perhaps insoluble task of finding a location for such a district and the additional problems of controlling the influx of prostitutes that would result from legalization.” Lindsay’s plan was to have law enforcement beef up the arrests of streetwalkers and padlock massage parlors.The sucker won’t realize what has happened until he is out on the street, the street walker and her co-conspirator long-gone. Mc Cabe, Lights and Shadows of New York Life, New York hookers, New York in the 1870s, New York lowlifes, panel thieving, prostitution in New York City, Soho 19th century, Soho history, street walkers in New York City Posted in Disasters and crimes, Out-of-date guidebooks, So Ho | 4 Comments » Corlears Hook was named in the 17th century for the Van Corlears family, early Dutch settlers who had a farm near this spit of land jutting into into the East River. By the 20th century, Corlears Hook had become a lovely park, which today offers views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges—and no hint of its importance in creating a popular term for ladies of the night.In the 18th century, the British renamed it Crown Point (on the 1776 map below), and in the 19th century it reverted back to its New Amsterdam moniker. By the 1830s it became the city’s most notorious red-light district, attracting sailors and the women who serviced them. Tags:1830s New York City, Corlears Hook, Corlears Hook Park, Crown Point, hookers, New Amsterdam, Old New York maps, prostitution in New York City, the origin of the word hooker, Van Corlears farm Posted in Disasters and crimes, Lower Manhattan, Maps | 15 Comments » You know the story: After Times Square’s heyday through the 1950s, it slid into seediness and decay.Another trick was what Mc Cabe called “panel thieving”: “She takes her victim to her room, and directs him to deposit his clothing on a chair, which is placed but a few inches from the wall at the end of the room. They were flashy, untidy, and covered with tinsel and brass jewelry,” states , by David Cordingly.This wall is false, and generally of wood.” While the street walker and customer do their thing, a male thief will quietly slide out from behind the fake wall and lift the customer’s wallet. “Their dresses are short, arms and necks bare, and their appearance is as disgusting as can be conceived.” “The latter area is generally credited with giving rise to the term ‘hooker’ and certainly had its fair share of rough characters, male and female,” adds Cordingly.