Large Image

Prostitution In The Gilded Age


(5 reviews)

Get It Preview

Share This


The Gilded Age is the only time in American history when prostitution was virtually legal. The Civil War proved such a grizzly affair that afterward, the average citizen was unmoved by a little vice. By the turn of the twentieth century, even small towns had dozens of bawdy houses, and countless saloons and cigar stores with backroom operations. Red light districts abounded and houses of ill fame operated freely.
Jennie Hollister was one of the most successful madames of the Gilded Age. Every city in the land had a duplicate copy of Jennie. Fannie Porter's San Antonio, Texas, brothel was a frequent stop for outlaws, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In San Francisco, Sally Stanford outshone the other madames and eventually became the mayor of Sausalito. Josie Arlington, of New Orleans's "Storyville," opened her first bordello on Customhouse Street in 1895. Eleanora Dumont had bawdy houses in gold and silver boomtowns all over the Rockies. The differences between these madames, and their houses of ill fame, could be etched on a ladybug's nose.
Jennie Hollister seemed the perfect madame -- very attractive, stately, overflowing with personality, and possessed of a strong native intelligence. Jennie's parlor house -- a seventeen-room Second French Empire home -- rested elegantly on the east side of Bushnell Park in the center of Hartford, Connecticut. It was almost as roomy and comfortable as Governor Morgan Bulkeley's Italianate mansion on Washington Street or Mark Twain's huge "steamboat" manse -- both just a few blocks away. Jennie entertained the finest collection of lawmakers and captains of industry extant. Men of the highest station, from all over the state, spent their spare time at Jennie Hollister's place.
Without these houses of sin, streetwalkers would overrun the city, creating a terrible atmosphere for respectable women and businessmen alike. Elected officials, merchants, bankers, professional men, and even clerics, felt it best to allow the houses of ill fame to operate as long as they remained orderly.
Throughout the 1890s, as wilder and more bizarre characters of the demimonde poured into the wide-open Capitol City of Connecticut, vice of all sorts ran on borrowed time. In 1895, the wooden covered bridge to East Hartford burned and a new bridge commission was formed with ex-Gov. Morgan Bulkeley at its head. When it came to individuals, Bulkeley had no prejudices of any kind, but he loathed the demimonde. At length, the overwhelming cost of the new bridge forced Bulkeley's hand. The bridge would be built, but the brothels had to go.
Bulkeley bought up huge sections of the tenderloin, including vast stretches of the waterfront along the Connecticut River, and bulldozed old neighborhoods with abandon. Gone were the flophouses, flag taverns, and brothels that blighted the city from the earliest times. The toughs and the prostitutes had lost their homes and haunts. Meanwhile, just before traffic flowed over the new bridge in late 1907, Judge Edward Garvan of the city's police court sent ten madames to jail for three months. Up to that time, the madames had only paid fines. The demimonde was stunned. As their wide-open city closed down around them, they made plans to move on.
America regained its social conscience and, almost overnight, vice disappeared. The luckiest madames were the ones who didn't live to see it all come crashing down. Jennie Hollister passed away in 1900, just a few years before the brothels closed. Though Jennie ran an elegant and orderly parlor house, it would never have survived society's return to righteousness.

Tag This Book

This Book Has Been Tagged
It hasn't. Be the first to tag this book!

Our Recommendation

None. The price of this book has not changed since we started tracking it.

Notify Me When The Price...

  • $
  • If I'm already tracking this book...

to track this book on eReaderIQ.

Track These Authors

to track Kevin Murphy on eReaderIQ.

  • to be notified each time the price drops on any book by Kevin Murphy.
  • to stop tracking Kevin Murphy.

Price Summary

  • We started tracking this book on April 8, 2015.
  • The current price of this book is $9.99 last checked 21 hours ago.
  • This book is currently at its lowest price since we started tracking it.


Additional Info

  • Text-to-Speech: Disabled
  • Lending: Disabled

We last verified the price of this book about 21 hours ago. At that time, the price was $9.99. This price is subject to change. The price displayed on the website at the time of purchase is the price you will pay for this book. Please confirm the price before making any purchases.