McGurk's Suicide Hall

McGurk's Suicide Hall (HM2IXD)

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N 40° 43.483', W 73° 59.536'

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Inscription

295 Bowery

On this site once stood a five-story tenement building which between 1895 and 1902 housed the notorious McGurk's Suicide Hall. Advertised as "The roughest joint in town," McGurk's attracted the lowest of low-brow clientele - from criminals and prostitutes to gamblers and rowdy sailors - all kept in line by its ferocious staff of bouncers and waiters. A disturbing trend surfaced in the saloon's backroom in 1897, after a couple of down-and-out prostitutes attempted suicide by mixing carbolic acid and a shot of whiskey. Owner John McGurk capitalized on the macabre tradition by boldly renaming it Suicide Hall.
Soon, visitors lined up to visit the saloon, in hopes of glimpsing the gruesome acts in person. In all, at least ten women committed suicide here.
Though shut down in 1902, McGurk's was for decades referenced in novels and films such as Mae West's raunchy Broadway homage, She Done Him Wrong (1933). The 1863 building later became a lodging house and then artists lofts. In the mid-2000s, Feminist writer Kate Millett (Sexual Politics), who resided here, led a valiant effort to landmark it and establish a museum memorial to the prostitutes who died there.
-Eric Ferrara, author of The Bowery and founder of Lower East Side History Project (leshp.org)
Details
HM NumberHM2IXD
Tags
Placed By 2016 by Bowery Alliance of Neighbors
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, July 19th, 2019 at 11:02am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 585104 N 4508687
Decimal Degrees40.72471667, -73.99226667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 43.483', W 73° 59.536'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 43' 28.98" N, 73° 59' 32.16" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
Closest Postal AddressAt or near , ,
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