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Your Mind on Moynihan: Win Free Tickets to Wednesday’s Event

Question: What was the nickname of the neighborhood surrounding Penn Station at the turn of the century?

The first five people to email the answer to khughes@mas.org will each win a pair of tickets to see a presentation from Jill Jonnes, the author of Conquering Gotham, at the MAS on Wednesday evening.

midtown 1907 31st to 33rd street on 7 ave

Below is a description from Conquering Gotham – fill in the blank!

“As [LIRR president William] Baldwin well knew, the great Pennsylvania Depot – if it ever came to be – would be rising not just in a rundown, marginal neighborhood, but in one of Gotham’s most notorious vice districts. Their four blocks were part of an area infamous far and wide: [_______], an area bounded by Fifth Avenue, West Twenty-third Street, Forty-second Street and Ninth Avenue.

Many respectable and hard-working folk lived and toiled here, as the recent census recorded, and by day it appeared to be just another shabby city enclave. Yet Baldwin’s Committee of Fifteen’s own inquiries had pin-pointed more than a hundred know whorehouses in the blocks due north and dozens more in the blocks toward Fifth Avenue. When night enveloped Gotham, and Manhattan’s skyscrapers and grand hotels glowed with the wondrous electric light, the streets here became a hotbed of vice. Conveniently close to the Broadway theaters and better hotels and restaurants, [_______] catered not just to the rougher elements, but also to slumming (married) middle-class men and daring out-of-towners. Nighttime Sixth Avenue, with the brightly lit elevated trains rumbling overhead, was often jammed with pleasure seekers. [________] was, odd to say, a neighborhood that the well-to-do Baldwin knew far better than most, for he had reviewed hundred of the committee’s private detailed vice reports for his reform work…

Anyone abroad in [________] late at night had to beware. In the tenebrous side streets, the hardened criminal classes sway, and brazen streetwalkers lured unwary rubes to panel houses where sliding bedroom walls made stealing watches and wallets easy. Murder was not unknown either. Just as Wall Street gloried in its fearful financial power, so [________] gloried in its lurid menu of vice and corruption – luxurious French brothels with “cinema nights,” high-stakes gaming halls, “badger” games, and opulent opium joints. Every professional gambler, saloonkeeper, white slaver, and madame in [_______] dutifully bribed the police and worked to fleece the unwary. The Democrats of Tammany Hall turned a blind eye to what reformers had long denounced as Satan’s Circus. And just as many a tourist had to see Wall Street, so many of the men among them had to see [________].”

[image courtesy of the New York Public Library]