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McGurk’s Suicide Hall

295 Bowery

 
 
McGurk’s Suicide Hall Marker image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 15, 2016
1. McGurk’s Suicide Hall Marker
Inscription.  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
Inset image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 15, 2016
2. Inset
John McGurk
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)
 
Erected 2016 by Bowery Alliance of Neighbors.
 
Location. 40° 43.483′ N, 73° 59.536′ W. Marker is in New York, New York, in New York County. Marker is on Bowery near East 1st Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: across the street at 310 Bowery, New York NY 10003, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 21st Century Fashion In A 21st Century House (within shouting distance of this marker); NYC’s Oldest Thoroughfare (within shouting distance of this marker); From Baseball to Houdini (within shouting distance of this marker); Liz Christie Garden (within shouting distance of this marker); Hats, Hardware & Horses (within shouting distance of this marker); CBGB (within shouting distance of this marker); Alexander’s Musee (within shouting distance of this marker); World’s Smallest Opera House (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New York.
 
More about this marker. One of more than sixty entries in the “Windows on the Bowery” series.
 
Categories. EntertainmentIndustry & CommerceWomen
 
Inset image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 15, 2016
3. Inset
McGurk's, circa 1890s
Inset image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, July 15, 2016
4. Inset
Outside McGurk's
McGurk’s Suicide Hall image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, October 2004
5. McGurk’s Suicide Hall
Awaiting demolition, October 2004
Avalon Bowery Place image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, October 2006
6. Avalon Bowery Place
Replacement for almost the entire block, October 2006
 

More. Search the internet for McGurk’s Suicide Hall.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 30, 2019. This page originally submitted on July 18, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. This page has been viewed 43 times since then. Last updated on July 22, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on July 18, 2019, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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