Look Up: A Center for Sin in New York's Tenderloin District, Now Flatiron

In the late 1800s the area between 23rd and 34th Streets along Broadway had the largest density of theaters in the city. And with all these theaters came many hotels, nightclubs, saloons, and dance halls. And naturally, along with these came numerous bordellos, casinos, and “clip joints.” “Satan’s circus” is what the anti-vice reverend Thomas De Witt Talmage called the area, and he spoke often to denounce all of New York as Gomorrah. But it was the association with a phrase spoken by the corrupt Police Captain Andrew Williams that stuck with the district the most. “Clubber” Williams made so much money taking bribes and other kickbacks to maintain “order” in his district that he was able to retire a millionaire. And once when asked, he was quoted as having said that previously he had “been having chuck steak ever since I’ve been on the force, and now I’m going to have a bit of tenderloin.” The name stuck for New York, and even informed the similarly corrupt neighborhood of San Francisco.

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