Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt's Doomed Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York

By Richard Zacks

When younger Theodore Roosevelt was once appointed police commissioner of recent York urban, he had the striking gall to attempt to close down the brothels, playing joints, and after-hours saloons. this can be the tale of the way TR took on big apple vice . . . and vice gained.

In the Nineties, big apple urban was once America’s monetary, production, and leisure capital, and in addition its most popular vacation spot for sin, teeming with 40 thousand prostitutes, glittery casinos, and all-night dives. Police cap­tains took hefty bribes to determine not anything whereas reformers writhed in frustration.

In Island of Vice, Richard Zacks paints a brilliant portrait of the lewd underbelly of Nineties manhattan, and of Theodore Roosevelt, the puritanical, cocksure police commissioner resolved to wash it up. Writing with nice wit and zest, Zacks explores how younger Roosevelt is going face to face with Tammany corridor, takes hour of darkness rambles with muckraker Jacob Riis, and attempts to persuade million New Yorkers to get pleasure from healthy kin enjoyable. whilst Roosevelt’s crackdown succeeds too good, even his supporters activate him, and TR discovers that long island loves its sin greater than its salvation.

With cameos via Stephen Crane, Mark Twain, and a horde of very offended law enforcement officials, Island of Vice is an unforgettable snap­shot of turn-of-the-century manhattan in all its seedy glory and an excellent miniature of 1 of America’s so much colourful presidents.

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Within the dim gentle, the slim lockers looked as if it would him gravestones and the sleepers the stressed lifeless. a few contorted in nightmares; a few shrieked, a few wailed. yet at sunrise, he was once surprised by means of the muscular health of the various unclothed males who purely once they additional layers of shabby clothing once more appeared downtrodden. For these with out even seven cents, with none cash, there have been nonetheless concepts: a urban shelter—recently outfitted at the Bellevue health facility pier at twenty sixth Street—and quite a few non secular missions. The Charity association Society, that arm of the wealthiest Protestant households, accomplished the Wayfarers’ resort and wooden backyard in 1893, and supported its useful undertaking by way of promoting accommodation tickets to personal contributors and businessmen, who then gave them to beggars; they entitled the recipient to a tub, sufficient nutrients, and a mattress in trade for 3 hours’ hard work cutting and sawing firewood.

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