Saturday, August 30, 2008

Satan's Mile

The most famous red-light district in late-19th century Chicago was Satan's Mile, stretching along State St., from Van Buren to 22nd St. The famous Levee segregated district was a part of Satan's Mile, as was "Coon Hollow," the two blocks south of 9th Street, where bawdy houses catering to black men congregated.

The most famous resident of Satan's Mile was Kitty Adams, a robber known as the "Terror of State Street," who operated during the 1880s and 1890s. Living in a brothel in Coon Hollow, she learned to cut men with a razor, and always carried one in her cleavage for protection. Police estimate that Kitty Adams committed on the order of 100 robberies each year between 1886 and 1893, when she was sent to prison at Joliet. Feigning tuberculosis by puncturing her gums with toothpicks until they bled, she received a pardon from the governor, and returned to Satan's Mile to continue her life of crime until 1898, when she was again sent to Joliet, where she died, of tuberculosis in fact.

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