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The Battle Over Globe’s Red Light District

 

As many locals know, the services of Globe’s Red Light District, otherwise known as the Tenderloin, were once in high demand. By December 1909, however, theses houses of “ill repute” had become a matter of the court.

District Attorney G.W. Shute had begun a lengthy campaign against the Tenderloin, and, as reported by the Daily Arizona Silver Belt on Dec. 11, 1909, claimed that “he will continue with the fight until every person within the present district is forced to leave the county.”

Just two days before, he had sworn out 21 complaints against the Red Light women for vagrancy.

Within a week, letters to the editor regarding Shute’s aggressive campaign began cropping up in the Silver Belt, several of which suggested Shute was in the wrong. One woman vehemently opposed the actions taken against the Tenderloin women.

“I have made this a life study and have helped many of this unfortunate class,” she wrote. “God knows they are more sinned against than sinning!”

Directly addressing Shute, she added, “My dear young district attorney: You have not taken the right course. You are but a school boy in such work, lacking both knowledge and experience. In the name of the good women of our city, I protest against your treatment of these women and your manner of conducting this case.”

Nonetheless, on Jan. 27, 1910, Shute had tactfully managed to clear out the Red Light District. Weeks before, a deal had been made that if the occupants of the Tenderloin abandoned their quarters by a given date, prosecution against the Red Light property owners would be dropped. That given date was Jan. 27.

“Women will move from redlight district; to avoid prosecution they prepare to scatter to other quarters,” read the headlines of the Silver Belt that day.

The Battle Over Globe’s Red Light District

“As yet the women have found no place where a new district may be established,” the article reported. “As a result, it is probable that the women will scatter out through the city, taking up quarters in the residence district outside the 400-yard limit. By carrying out this plan, prosecution under the vagrancy statutes will be made difficult and the women will probably be able to exist until such time as they can secure a new district or until they are allowed to return to their present quarters.”

Several months later, the exodus from the Tenderloin was still in effect. On March 12, 1910, the Silver Belt reported on a woman who was forced to move yet again:

“Woman Must Move — Violet Reins, a former habitue of the tenderloin, who has been living in the northeast part of the city since the recent exodus from the old red light district, was haled before Judge Hinson Thomas yesterday, on a charge of living within 400 yards of a public school. She was notified to seek quarters elsewhere and agreed to do so at once.”

Cases continued against other women.

About Jenn Walker

Jenn Walker began writing for Globe Miami Times in 2012 and has been a contributor ever since. Her work has also appeared in Submerge Magazine, Sacramento Press, Sacramento News & Review and California Health Report. She currently teaches Honors English at High Desert Middle School and mentors Globe School District’s robotics team.

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