Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Family Affair: The Story of the Canal Street Brothel

Crescent City Clean Up

Louisiana map, showing New Orleans
Louisiana map, showing New Orleans

Straddling the muddy brown waters of the Mississippi River, New Orleans has always been unique among American cities.  Founded in 1718 by French settlers, then handed over to Spain, then back to France just in time for Napoleon to sell the city and the rest of Louisiana to the United States, New Orleans is truly a melting pot, a spice-laden gumbo of culture, race and religion.  It is also a city of notoriously loose morals, a city in which almost anything goes.

Beginning in 1897, New Orleans was home to the first legalized red-light district in the United States.  Located just outside the French Quarter, the district was called Storyville, named with an intentional jab of irony after city alderman Sidney Story, who fought against what he perceived as one of the city's most devastating problems--rampant prostitution. 

Twenty years later, the federal government, acting through the Department of the Navy, stepped in and crushed Storyville.  It seems the Secretary of the Navy didn't like New Orleans prostitutes corrupting his sailors.

In 2001, a new generation of Washington officials, this time at the Department of Justice and the FBI, decided that they had heard enough about hookers in New Orleans, and that they were going to put a stop to the city's nearly 300-year-old tradition of sin and debauchery.  The feds rode into town on a mission: to save the wealthy and influential men of the Crescent City from ... a dozen girls in nighties.  And they were going to start with a little brothel on Canal Street.

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