Blakeview: Storyville closes_lowres

E.J. Bellocq took this photo of a New Orleans bungalow in Storyville in the early 1900s. It’s now part of the permanent collection at NOMA.

This week marks the centennial of the closing of Storyville, New Orleans' famous red light district. The 16-square-block area, bordered by Basin, North Robertson, Iberville and St. Louis streets, was established by city ordinance in 1897. Its goal was to control prostitution by limiting it to a certain area. The ordinance's sponsor was Alderman Sidney Story, whose name would become forever linked to the district. So-called "Blue Books" advertised the businesses of the district, including madams, prostitutes and club owners who operated there, such as Lulu White, Josie Arlington, Tom Anderson and Willie Piazza. In 1917, as the U.S. entered World War I, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels ordered Storyville closed, calling it a "bad influence" on sailors in New Orleans. On Oct. 9, the City Council passed an ordinance closing the district, effective Nov. 12.