Hookers in Hartford

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Our Programs. Ann Dunn and Caroline McElroy were unceremoniously escorted to the police station where they were charged with prostitution. The arrest of the two Hartford women came in the summer of after a raid on two North Main Street brothels. The four male customers picked up in the raid whose names were not given to the press were released with some words of warning but without charge.

Dunn and McElroy were sentenced to 45 days in jail. So much for victimless crimes. As in other US cities, prostitution has both prospered and declined, depending the moral and economic climate in which women, primarily, have found themselves.

Hookers in Hartford

Social reformers have used a variety of methods to rid Hartford of its brothels, but none of them got to the root of the problem. It took radical women like Emma Goldman and Hartford union organizer Rebecca Weiner to identify and propose a cure for the sex trade, the same social and economic conditions that gave rise to prostitution and exist to this day. Although prostitution was often treated with less severity than other crimes, the consequences of arrest and conviction had grave outcomes for many of the women involved.

Facing humiliation and a criminal record, she tried to hang herself out a window with her shawl. That attempt failed, so Peck tied a rope tightly around her throat. She was found on her jail bunk groaning in pain. The authorities saw her swollen neck and thought she had taken poison. They called in a doctor who treated her with an antidote, but to no avail: her strangulation had been discovered too late. One young man found himself in a Hartford court in He was a native of the city who had moved to Buffalo, New York, with his wife and young son. He prospered in business but returned to Hartford to aid his dying mother.

The young husband left his family in the care of a male friend. Upon his return he found that his wife had eloped with the friend to a nearby city, abandoning their son. She had apparently dated the son of a well-known Hartford citizen and upon her arrest sent word to have him bail her out. In the mid 19th-century, the sex trade was so lucrative in the Northeast that it was exported to other parts of the country.

An tragedy at sea underscored this expansion of the sex business. Among the souls who perished were 97 New York prostitutes headed for work in New Orleans. As the 20th century approached, the Hartford Charity Organization Society reported that there were 12 brothels operating in the city, mostly in immigrant neighborhoods, with a total of at least women. In a city with a population of about 50, that equaled one prostitute for every 30 Hartford men.

Attempts to curb the trade varied. In the s moral crusaders tried the personal approach. The efforts solicited only a few customers and were soon closed.

Hookers in Hartford

Gold Street tenements, some of which housed brothels, were populated by mostly Black and poor Irish families. After a campaign to clean up the neighborhood, the entire street was razed. The demolition succeeded in restoring the historic cemetery nearby, but it did nothing to stop prostitution. Increased legal scrutiny intensified in the period from to Spurred on by the Hartford clergy, the police stormed bordellos in well-publicized raids.

As usual, the prostitutes were fined and jailed; the owners got out on bond, and the johns were seldom charged. Hartford police had an ambivalent attitude toward the sex trade, however. Despite the fact that prostitution was clearly illegal, it was also a source of income for local cops.

News item in the October 1,Bridgeport Herald. Also inunder pressure by civic groups, Hartford Mayor Edward L. Two years later the Vice Commission reported that the closures were successful. But in fact the problem simply moved to the streets and spread throughout the city. One of the first acts of the new police vice squad was a sweep of local restaurants and cafes where streetwalkers would congregate. When the local sex houses closed shop, women were forced out on their own, arguably more independent but also more isolated and vulnerable Hookers in Hartford when they operated under a common roof.

Hookers in Hartford

On March 20,five days before the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that killed workers in New York City, Hartford tailors took to the streets for better wages and safer working conditions. Rebecca had been organizing a union of the alteration tailors at the Sage Allen department store. When owner Norman Allen found out, Rebecca was sacked.

Twenty tailors walked out in protest. FoxBrown Thomson, Hookers in Hartford other downtown stores. The tailors of those establishments refused to help break the strike and were locked out of their jobs. Rebecca Weiner did not just target the economic and safety conditions of the tailors; her organizing exposed the socially proscribed options that young working women faced. Rebecca knew that Hartford garment workers worked 57 hours a week, long hours which produced wages that were half of what similar work paid in New York.

The six-day-a-week schedule meant there was almost no time for a personal life outside of the workplace. Women workers were often prey for a male supervisor who had the power to fine them or withhold wages if they resisted his sexual advances. A federal Department of Labor study had already found that nearly half the prostitutes surveyed had ly worked in factories and shops before turning tricks. This combination of legal, political, and economic muscle was too much for the tailors in but, thanks to the growing social awareness and determination of women garment workers, over the next few years the ILGWU organized and won a of other Hartford shops.

Those experiences informed her later thinking on prostitution. The Traffic in Womenpublished inwas a clear-headed analysis of why women ended up selling their bodies. But it was not just capitalism that forced women into the profession. Women are reared as a sex commodity, she argued, but were kept in the Hookers in Hartford about adult sexual relations.

No wonder they fell easy prey to prostitution and similar exploitative relationships. Nothing less than a fundamental upheaval of so-called moral values, Goldman concluded, along with the abolition of industrial slavery, could eradicate prostitution. Steve Thornton has been a labor union organizer for 35 years and writes on the history of working people. This article originally appeared on ShoeLeatherHistoryProject.

Goldman, Emma. Marriage and Love. Wells, Ernest Alden. Hepburn, Katharine Houghton. October 1,Sunday edition. Google News. Mary and Eliza Freeman Houses. Mohegan Federal Recognition. Other CT Humanities Programs. We could not locate your form. E-News Subscribe.

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Hookers in Hartford

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