Thursday, March 9, 2017

Henry S. Jacob's Cafe

Henry S. Jacob's Café

Location: 25 Graeme Street (a/k/a West Diamond Street), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Open/Closed: c. 1914

As part of a fairly extensive research project, I have been looking into the history of the saloons and cafe's that used to exist around Pittsburgh's former Diamond Square (now Market Square). One of the best sources of information are the proceedings from License Court, which allowed citizens and other groups to contest the renewal of liquor licenses for various establishments. Imagine my surprise when I found the following complaints lodged against Henry S. Jacob's place. This report is from the Pittsburgh Daily Post, March 20, 1914:

Wow. Where to even start. During the same era, New York had its Café des Beaux Arts, a ladies drinking establishment opened in 1911. But the press emphasized that this was a genteel place. (Regular readers here will remember that saloons and bars of this era were nearly entirely identified as male-only spaces.)
Mr. Jacob's place apparently wasn't. It was somehow predominantly or primarily women, without appearing to be a genteel place for ladies. In fact, we're told that many of the women are of "bad repute" or "strange." But if they were "prostitutes" looking for customers, why go to a bar that's "primarily" women? After all, logically, you are not going to find many men there. And though detectives claimed that these "strange women" had "asked them to go out," you got to wonder what most of these women were up to....

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Some Ladies Cafes in New York (1895)

This illustration was accompanied by a syndicated article on Ladies Cafes in New York that appeared in several American newspapers in December 1895. I may transcribe the article later. Since there are few graphic depictions of the ladies café, an early pioneering example of a public socializing space for women (albeit for wealthy, white women only), I thought it would be fun to share. As we have noted before, many bars and restaurants of the time did not allow women to enter, or in some cases, only allowed them to enter if escorted by a man.