- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: University of Alabama Press (April 30, 1978)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0817344039
- ISBN-13: 978-0817344030
- Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.7 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 37 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Storyville, New Orleans: Being an Authentic, Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red Light District
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Most of the chapters contain good information even if it is a bit dry. There is a chapter of interviews of the survivors of the Red Light District and I found this to be the most fascinating yet sobering of all. What I really wanted was more of those interviews. The author explains he did not use all of them and I understand his explanation but really, this is the most fascinating chapter.
All in all though, after reading this I certainly have a very different opinion about "the district" and can see why many people were glad it was closed down.
Any warm feelings I may have had about "the district" were certainly chilled after reading this.
Rose illustrated his book with photos, maps, directories, flyers, police reports, legal decisions, cartoons, business cards and almost any other surviving evidence of the now torn down section of the city. The author's research was exhaustive and probably as complete as can be contained in a single book. He combined aerial photos and maps of the area with close-up photos of the exterior and interiors of the many vice businesses. He shows pictures of the interior lushness of some more famous brothels, as well as the filth of some of the cribs. He uses most of the surviving photographic nude and semi-nude portraits that Ernest Bellocq made of some of the prostitutes of the district to make the architectural and interior photos of the bars, dance halls, gambling dens and brothels come to life. Rose also included quite a lot of humor in the form of stories from the time or through his selection of colorful characters to describe in detail. And they were colorful and probably wouldn't have been more colorful or interesting even if their biographies were fictionalized.
By the time the reader finishes this book he will feel like he has actually visited Storyville and walked its streets and listened to and witnessed the birth of New Orleans jazz. In fact, Rose does an excellent job of documenting that birth of Jazz and even tracing its spread to the rest of America. The reader will also have been taken step-by-step through the historical reasons that Storyville was a necessary and probably unavoidable development at that time in American history.
Storyville no longer exists. It was closed down by the U.S. Military in an attempt to keep sailors, soldiers and marines from contracting venereal diseases. After the buildings were empty they were condemned and torn down to be replaced by more desirable buildings in the classic version of urban renewal. It took the full force of the U.S. Military to destroy Storyville because New Orleans was and had always been too corrupt to accomplish the job. Almost from it's founding, the city was flooded with prostitutes and criminals (convicts) shipped from Europe to settle the colony. The riverboat traffic provided an endless supply of sex-starved customers for the fleshpots at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Like Camelot, Storyville has become a popular legend in the eyes of the population. The legend may indeed become more mythical with the passage of time. Today the very name Storyville can catch the attention of the public and because of that it is frequently used in the titles of fiction and movies.
The reader won't feel that he hasn't received a very generous return on his cost for buying this fascinating non-fiction book. The fact is as interesting as the legend.