Farewell To Storyville


Storyville is no longer as we have here depicted. In the last years, its inhabitants underwent many vicissitudes; its palaces and cribs have become decaying hulks. Most have disappeared altogether to make way for the increasing spread of automobile parking grounds.

On the heels of much persistent vice-crusading by Miss Jean Gordon and other civic leaders for the suppression of the restricted district, came a request from Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy under President Wilson, urging, as a war measure, the large cities of the nation, to curb all forms of vice. A local ordinance therefore closed the district officially on October 10, 1917. The red-light district never regained its pre-war legal status.

With the passing of Storyville in 1917, Tom Anderson’s power in the Fourth Ward declined rapidly, and he was no longer able to help his constituents in the ways he formerly had. On 3rd February 1920 he was tried on a charge of knowingly conducting an immoral resort within ten miles of a military camp. The case ended in a mistrial, and it was Anderson’s swan song in the sporting district.

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Much has been written, full of enthusiasm, colorful and flamboyant, and full of condemnation about Storyville, from 1897 to 1917, the district of New Orleans marked out by statute for licensed prostitution. Like so much that has been written about jazz, a lot of this has been full of half-truths and whole truths out of context. It would be a gross distortion to say that Alderman Story's city within a city reflected nothing but high moral purpose on the part of the New Orleans legislators who founded it. It would be gross injustice to suggest that they were accepting the several filths of flourishing vice as a cheerful necessity. This district represents simply the first and the last attempt to license prostitution in an American city, a Catholic city following a procedure made famous by many Catholic cities in Europe, most notably Paris, which didn't find it necessary to close its legally recognized brothels until after World War II. Whatever the merits of this solution to the problem of the oldest profession, for sixty years the attractions of Storyville and its antecedent quarters rivaled those of the cemeteries and the restaurants of New Orleans, and for almost half of that period music, side by side with loose ladies, soothed savage beasts


Storyville New Orleans Red-Light District


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