Sunday, November 15, 2009

11.15.09 Storyville New Orleans

E.J. Bellocq (1873 - 1949) was a professional New Orleans photographer known for his haunting photo's of prostitutes from New Orleans's Storyville district, taken in the early 20th Century, which were eventually published by Lee Friedlander in the book Storyville Portraits.

Storyville was the prostitution district of New Orleans, Louisiana, from 1897 through 1917.

From the wiki entry:

"Locals usually simply referred to the area as The District. The nickname Storyville was in reference to city alderman Sidney Story, who wrote the legislation setting up the district. It was bounded by Iberville, Basin, St. Louis, and Robertson streets. Most of this former district is now occupied by the Iberville Housing Projects, two blocks inland from the French Quarter.

The District was set up to limit prostitution to one area of town where authorities could monitor and regulate the practice. In the late 1890s, the New Orleans city government studied the legalized red light districts of northern German and Dutch ports and set up Storyville based on such models. Between 1895 and 1915, "blue books" were published in Storyville. These books were guides to prostitution for visitors to the district's services including house descriptions, prices, particular services and the "stock" each house had to offer. The Storyville blue-books were inscribed with the motto: "Order of the Garter: Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense (Shame to Him Who Evil Thinks.)"

Establishments in Storyville ranged from cheap "cribs" to more expensive houses up to a row of elegant mansions along Basin Street for well-heeled customers (the term "crib" originated in San Francisco's red-light district). New Orleans' cribs were 50-cent joints, whereas the more expensive establishments could cost up to $10. Black and white brothels coexisted in Storyville; however, black men were barred from legally purchasing services rendered in either black or white brothels. Nonetheless, brothels with black prostitutes serving blacks openly flourished with the full knowledge of the police and other local authorities a short distance uptown from Storyville proper.

The District was adjacent to one of the main railway stations where travelers arrived in the city and became a noted attraction.
The District was closed down by the federal government (over the strong objections of the New Orleans city government) during World War I in 1917.
The District continued in a more subdued state as an entertainment center through the 1920s, with various dance halls, cabarets and restaurants. Speakeasies, gambling joints and prostitution were also regularly found in the area despite repeated police raids."

No comments: