The Conspiracy

The New Voices office used to be a brothel

No. 114 W.26th St. is a ladies [sic.] boarding house, kept by Mrs. Moultrie. It has five lady boarders.

The above quote is an excerpt from “A Gentleman’s Directory,” which the New York Times calls “A Vest Pocket Guide to Brothels in 19th-Century New York for Gentlemen on the Go.”  The book purports to “point out the location of these places so that the reader may know to avoid them,” but it’s clear that this pamphlet acts as a kind of proto-Zagat for bordellos in 1870. It gives the location of countless brothels, starting from the southern end of Manhattan  moving north, and recommends the ones it finds most suitable for male travelers.

It seems as if the 20’s between Sixth and Seventh Avenues–an area that now includes the offices of many Jewish nonprofits–comprised quite the hot-spot for courtesans. Several brothels offered services on 25th St. alone, and indeed 114 W. 26th, the building that is now home to ten Jewish organizations — New Voices, the Kibbutz Program Center, J Street U, Habonim Dror North America, Meretz USA, Givat Haviva, Camp Na’aleh, Ameinu and Hashomer Hatzair — housed a small gentlemen’s inn of its own.

Apparently, however, our building was no competition to our next-door neighbor, 116 W. 26th, the current location of Ricky’s NYC costume store. According to the pamphlet, that house was “most elegantly furnished…Gentlemen seeking for pleasure, will be most agreeable entertained. This is a first class house.”

At New Voices and the Jewish Student Press Service, we pride ourselves on our sense of history — going back about 40 years. So it’s nice to know that, 100 years ago, the inhabitants of our building were serving a distinguished clientele with the world’s oldest profession.

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One Older Response to “The New Voices office used to be a brothel”

  1. Elle Weiss
    January 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Wow, the office just got a lot cooler!

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