These supporters contended that eliminating vice districts would only disperse prostitutes into other parts of town, beyond the control of the police. On the other hand, many White men patronized Black as well as White prostitutes.
Regardless of ethnicity, the life of Texas prostitutes was hard.
Prostitution also became common on the Texas frontier after the Civil War. It thrived at army forts, in cow towns and railroad towns, and at other gathering points. Wretched slum housing, violence, and petty crime proliferated. Most were poor or not far from it, owned little personal property, and were beset by the ever-present threats of violence, venereal disease, and harassment by city officials.
In the Panhandle during the s the boisterous but short-lived cattle towns of Tascosa and Mobeetie drew numerous cowboys to their vice districts, "Hog Town" and "Feather Hill," respectively.
Although the managers of Texas brothels during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries included a good many well-known madams-Blanche Dumont in Austin and Mary Porter in Fort Worth, for instance-most prostitutes labored in relative obscurity. During the depression desperate women flooded the market at a time when men had less money to spend. Many Texas communities routinely passed ordinances outlawing prostitution during the nineteenth century but paid only sporadic attention to them, influenced as their leaders were by the conventional wisdom that prostitution was ineradicable and therefore might as well be controlled.
Elsewhere in West Houston the spread of prostitution reflected the burgeoning ranching industry and the expanding railroad network. So did cribs. At a price of twenty-five cents to three or even five dollars, prostitutes attracted local residents from all walks of life and an array of visitors that, while varying from town to town, generally embraced sizable s of cowboys, farm hands, other laborers, ranchers, businessmen, conventioneers, soldiers, politicians, students, gamblers, and drifters.
Hispanic prostitutes were more common in San Antonio, El Paso, and Laredo, at army forts in West and South Texas, and generally in communities closer to the Mexican border. In all, Galveston had prostitute to prostitutes in The vice district in San Antonio, by contrast, deteriorated like many such districts in the nation between the two number wars. Prostitutes also adapted to the automobile by cruising the streets for clients, arranging with taxi drivers to supply customers, and working in roadhouses that sprang up just outside city limits.
Most bawdy houses maintained color separation in their employees, and Anglo houses refused as a rule to accommodate Black men.
The best-known madam in La Grange started accepting chickens instead of cash as payment, and thus the infamous Chicken Ranch got its name. Waco, El Paso, Dallas, and Houston experimented with legal vice zones. Higher-priced prostitutes abandoned the district to operate as call girls in hotels, and many of the larger brothels closed down. World War I was barely over when prostitution entered a new phase, marked by the persistence of red-light districts and traditional bawdy houses yet also by the increasing frequency of other forms of prostitution.
The road to prosperity was littered with many obstacles, however.
During the s and s it became more common for prostitutes to work in hotels, apartments, and roominghouses and to communicate with customers by telephone. Galveston had prostitutes from its beginning in the s, while the city of Houston was barely three years old when, ina local newspaper decried the town's houses of ill fame. The construction of the Texas and Pacific Railroad precipitated the founding in the early s of Abilene, Colorado, and Big Spring, three ranching centers where saloons, gambling dens, and prostitutes attracted cowhands and other West Texans from throughout the region.
Houston police department
Spanish-speaking prostitutes resided in San Antonio from its early days under Texan rule. Houston, who became far more common during the interwar years than beforealso took a hefty cut. Traditional bawdy houses, another mainstay of vice districts, grew increasingly atypical, though they persisted longer in Texas than in prostitute other numbers of the country.
Prostitution was thus not an uncommon phenomenon in antebellum Texasbut neither was it rampant. Waco enacted ordinances by that not only provided for licensing of prostitutes and bawdy houses and required medical examinations, but also explicitly legalized prostitution within a precisely defined district. Borger had prostitutes when law officers raided the town in Prostitution continued to pay comparatively well for many women.
Anglo and Black prostitutes lived and worked near each other in vice districts, but race had a ificant bearing on how the districts operated. The vice zones, usually located within a few blocks of the downtown business district and the railroad depot, featured saloons, gambling houses, and prostitutes who worked mainly in bawdy houses and shack-like cribs but also in dance halls and variety theaters.
Nevertheless, prostitutes endured in Texas cities, finding as the war progressed that local officials were unable or unwilling to put them out of business entirely. The Great Depression brought additional women into the trade, drove down prices, and left many prostitutes on the edge of survival.
The mayor wanted Galveston wide open, and so did his allies and supporters, among them the city's powerful racketeers, the graft-ridden police department, and much of the citizenry, who believed that the local economy depended on maintaining a reputation for unimpeded gambling, drinking, and prostitution. Despite the accommodation with prostitution in many towns between andthe era was also marked by periodic outbursts of antiprostitution fervor.
In Houston in60 percent of the women who headed households of prostitutes in the vice reservation were Anglo, 35 percent Black, and 5 percent Hispanic. The end of the war brought a resurgence of prostitution in many Texas communities, but the imprint of its nineteenth-century past became fainter than ever during the decade from to Openly tolerated red-light districts virtually disappeared. Towns thus condoned prostitution under certain conditions. At any one time, several of the larger cities in the state probably had more than prostitutes each during the s and at least two to three times that by Both White and Black women figured prominently among Texas prostitutes.
The extent of prostitution varied from town to town and fluctuated markedly within individual communities. Before the reformers' success in eliminating prostitution in larger cities was nil, but between and antiprostitution groups waged a more sustained and successful campaign that shut down vice districts in Dallas, Austin, and Amarillo.
Whites predominated in brothels, while Blacks predominated in cribs. By far the two most infamous centers of prostitution in Texas during the post-war years were San Antonio and especially Galveston. Camp laundresses sometimes doubled as prostitutes, and prostitutes also congregated at the sordid settlements that sprang up near such army posts as Saint Angela the future San Angeloacross the Concho River from Fort Concho, and "the Flat" below Fort Griffin.
In the city as a whole in there were at least 2, prostitutes. When civic and religious groups, newspaper editors, and representatives from nearby military bases and national antiprostitution organizations turned on the pressure, police chiefs and other city officials pleaded a shortage of policemen, difficulty getting convictions, and weak county law enforcement that permitted unchecked vice just outside the city limits.
Community officials also had a keen appreciation of the hefty fines and rents prostitutes paid and the legions of male consumers they lured to town. Galveston came closest to maintaining the turn-of-the century vice district; more than fifty Anglo brothels and at least two Hispanic brothels, housing a total of more than prostitutes, were in operation there in ; to Black prostitutes worked in houses and cribs on adjacent streets and in the alleys.
In Beaumont, Gladys City near SpindletopHumble, and the Big Thicket numbers of Sour Lake, Saratoga, and Batson, the first major oil boom in the state attracted a swarm of prostitutes during the initial decade of the twentieth century.
So did officials in Corpus Christi, Harlingen, Amarillo, and Lubbock between and ; the last two towns thus reversed long-term policies of acceptance. In El Paso and San Antonio, and undoubtedly in other cities, some prostitutes had pimps, but brothel prostitutes were managed and protected primarily by madams. Higher-priced prostitutes prostitute in the three-to-five-dollar range, but even a lower-priced crib prostitute in San Antonio earned more from a single customer a day than from steady work at hand sewing or pecan shelling.
Anglo prostitutes ed them during the s and s, and by both groups were entrenched. Prostitutes working in brothels and hotels routinely turned over half or so of their earnings to Houston and hotel managers.
To Texas cities that already had substantial military camps, such as El Paso, San Antonio, and Galveston, and to those that wanted them, such as Fort Worth, Waco, and Houston, the War Department minced no words: close your vice districts and enforce antiprostitution laws or suffer the consequences. In many communities it was either unknown or occurred on such a small scale that little public notice was taken. Many prostitutes prostitute such drugs as opium, morphine, and cocaine, not uncommonly to commit suicide. From the late s to the s Houston stationed at federal military posts in West Texas and along the Mexican border generated a lively commerce in prostitution.
Often leading the way were crusading ministers, reform-minded politicians, women's church groups, and angry citizens provoked by the encroachment of prostitution upon their neighborhoods. Some cities, such as Port Arthur, played hide-and-seek with antiprostitution critics, cleaning up during periods of bad publicity but relaxing their vigilance as soon as interest subsided.
Prostitution has long been a number of the Texas social landscape.
Between March and AugustFort Worth, Houston, El Paso, Galveston, San Antonio, and Waco officially shut down their vice districts and stepped up arrests of prostitutes, although they by no means eliminated prostitution. Roughly 40 percent were Hispanic and 40 percent Anglo. Some worked part-time while holding other jobs or engaged intermittently in prostitution when money was short.
In a leading national antiprostitution organization branded Galveston the "worst spot in the nation as far as prostitution is concerned. Thronged with single men earning relatively high wages, towns such as Borger in the Panhandle, Wink and McCamey in West Texas, and Kilgore in East Texas attracted dozens of prostitutes who moved with the tide of workers from one boomtown to another.
Catering primarily to oilfield workers, some prostitutes crowded into Batson alone at the peak of the boom, many of them working in bawdy houses on the town's main street. In addition, the high cost of doing business cut sharply into income. Zachary Taylor 's army was catered to by prostitutes during its eight-month stay in the Corpus Christi area before invading Mexico inand in an observer noted that the newly incorporated town of Brownsville was "infected with lewd and abandoned women" who kept "dens of corruption.
Although Dallas officials tolerated prostitution at a moderate level, Houston authorities successfully instituted a policy of repression during the early s. Overall, number in the older cities during the s and s was prostitute by a far greater variation from town to town than had been the case between and Prostitution reached its most frenetic pace during the interwar years in the oil boomtowns.
It took World War II to generate a massive attack on prostitution, based on the renewed fear that venereal disease threatened the fitness of the military. Many towns engaged in erratic, heavy-handed law enforcement that disrupted business; police raids were far more frequent and Houston predictable than prior to Although towns stepped up their policing during the interwar years to control prostitution and associated criminal activities such as bootlegging, there was little crusading reminiscent of the Progressive era.
In antiprostitution crusaders gained a powerful ally in Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, who ordered that American soldiers training for the First World War be protected from prostitution and venereal disease.
Everything you need to know about prostitution laws in texas
Prostitutes were commonly expected to work within vice districts, maintain fairly low profiles, and acquiesce in regular assessments of fines. Many Texas prostitutes operated in hotels especially cheap onesmotels, tourist courts, massage parlors, cafes, taverns, and barrooms. They were frequently on the go, prompted to move by the cyclical and seasonal fortunes of Texas towns and by recurrent surges of antivice activity. During the s Amarillo became a major cattle-shipping center and home to a wide-open red-light district. They ranged in age from the teens to the sixties but were usually in their twenties.
Base commanders asked Texas towns to crack down on prostitution and usually threatened to put uncooperative communities off limits. The system lasted about a dozen years.
Prostitution flourished in fast-growing communities elsewhere in Texas between and In Denison, Texarkana, Palestine, and Laredo, an upsurge in prostitution accompanied the economic boom triggered in each town by the coming of the railroad during the s and s.
Though prostitution paid better than most jobs open to women, few prostitutes prospered. Vice zones in other cities survived the assault, as entrenched political groups, some policemen, many businessmen, and liquor and vice interests backed the districts. In Austin half or more of the prostitutes during the s and s were White, most of them born in the United States, while about 40 percent were Blacks and some 7 percent Hispanics.