Prostitutes were a worrisome presence to army leadership, particularly because of the possible spread of venereal diseases. Some army officers, however, encouraged the presence of prostitutes during the Civil War to keep troop morale high. In August 20, , the U. Granger legalized prostitution in Nashville, Tennessee , in order to curb venereal disease among Union soldiers. The move was successful and venereal disease rates fell from forty percent to just four percent due to a stringent wellness program which required all prostitutes to register and be checked by a board certified physician every two weeks for which they were charged five dollars registration fee plus 50 cents per examination.
At concert saloons , men could eat, listen to music, watch a fight, or pay women for sex. Over brothels existed in lower Manhattan. Prostitution was illegal under the vagrancy laws, but was not well-enforced by police and city officials, who were bribed by brothel owners and madams.
Attempts to regulate prostitution were struck down on the grounds that regulation would be counter to the public good. Seventy-five percent of New York men had some type of sexually transmitted disease. Julia Bulette was a leading madam in Virginia City , Nevada who was murdered in Widespread media coverage of prostitution occurred in , when famous courtesan Helen Jewett was murdered, by one of her customers.
The Lorette Ordinance of prohibited prostitution on the first floor of buildings in New Orleans. This area of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D. The youth on the left was a "procurer". Civil War, Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue had become a disreputable slum known as Murder Bay, home to an extensive criminal underclass and numerous brothels. So many prostitutes took up residence there to serve the needs of General Joseph Hooker 's Army of the Potomac that the area became known as "Hooker's Division.
Comstock successfully influenced the United States Congress to pass the Comstock Law , which made illegal the delivery or transport of "obscene, lewd, or lascivious" material and birth control information. In , Congress passed the Page Act of that made it illegal to transport women into the nation to be used as prostitutes.
It included a brothel in the basement and 14 cribs suspended from the ceiling, called cages. In the late 19th century, newspapers reported that 65, white slaves existed. Around , the term " red-light district " was first recorded in the United States. From to , the Dumas Brothel in Montana was America's longest-running house of prostitution. New Orleans city alderman Sidney Story wrote an ordinance in to regulate and limit prostitution to one small area of the city, "The District", where all prostitutes in New Orleans must live and work.
The District, or Storyville , became the most famous area for prostitution in the nation. Storyville at its peak had some prostitutes and brothels. Legal measures[ edit ] Vice squad interrogation of women in In , The Bureau of Investigation BOI was founded by the government to investigate "white slavery" by interviewing brothel employees to find out if they had been kidnapped. Out of prostitutes interviewed in one city, six said they were victims of white slavery.
It also banned the interstate transport of females for "immoral purposes". Its primary stated intent was to address prostitution and perceived immorality. The Supreme Court later included consensual debauchery, adultery, and polygamy under "immoral purposes". Prior to World War I , there were few laws criminalizing prostitutes or the act of prostitution.
A medical examination was required, and if it revealed an STD, this discovery could constitute proof of prostitution. The purpose of this law was to prevent the spread of venereal diseases among U. If found infected, a women could be sentenced to a hospital or a farm colony until cured. Appropriations under this act were doubled after the United States entered the war. The May Act,3 which became effective with its signature by the President, July 11, , armed the federal government with authority to suppress commercialized vice in the neighborhood of military camps and naval establishments in the United States.
The May Act, which became law in June , intended to prevent prostitution on restricted zones around military bases. It was invoked chiefly during wartime.
United States , in , ruled that prostitutes could travel across state lines, if the purpose of travel was not for prostitution. Many massage parlors became brothels. In , the Mustang Ranch became Nevada's first licensed brothel, eventually leading to the legalization of brothel prostitution in 10 of 17 counties within the state. In time, Mustang Ranch became Nevada's largest brothel, with more revenue than all other legal Nevada brothels combined. Other developments[ edit ] Basin Street brothels in New Orleans, ca.
In , New Orleans government shut down prostitute cribs. At one meeting attended by 7, people, 20, were kept out for lack of room. In a conference with Reverend Paul Smith, an outspoken foe of prostitution, prostitutes made a plea for toleration, explaining they had been forced into the practice by poverty.
The police closed about houses of prostitution shortly thereafter. In the early 20th century, widespread use of phones made call girls possible. This took prostitutes indoors and off the streets. They give their phone numbers on cards to customers.
By World War II , prostitutes had increasingly gone underground as call girls. Conditions for sex trade workers changed considerably in the s. The combined oral contraceptive pill was first approved in for contraceptive use in the United States. My Own Story, a book that was notable for its frankness at the time, and considered a landmark of positive writing about sex.
Carol Leigh , a prostitute's rights activist known as the "Scarlot Harlot," coined the term "Sex worker" in It was based on the real-life Texas Chicken Ranch brothel.
The play was the basis for the film starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds. Her ring had numerous famous and wealthy clients. Her original three-year sentence prompted widespread outrage at her harsh punishment, while her customers had not been punished. She became known as the Mayflower Madam. The House of Representatives voted to reprimand him. Tobias , former Director of U.
Foreign Assistance and U. Agency for International Development Administrator, resigned in after being accused of patronizing a Washington escort service. Senator from Louisiana David Vitter acknowledged past transgressions after his name was listed as a client of "D. Madam" Deborah Jeane Palfrey 's prostitution service in Washington.
Prior to this law, between and , Rhode Island was the only U. In , due to the stagnant economy in Puerto Rico, the government considered legalizing prostitution. Since prostitution is illegal, there are no formal brothels, but massage parlors offering prostitution may be found along with street prostitution.
Typically, these areas will also have other adult-oriented businesses, often due to zoning, such as strip clubs , sex shops , adult movie theaters , adult video arcades , peep shows , sex shows , and sex clubs. Street prostitution[ edit ] Street prostitution is illegal throughout the United States. Street prostitution tends to be clustered in certain areas known for solicitation.
For instance, statistics on official arrests from the Chicago Police Department from August 19, to May 1, , suggest that prostitution activity is highly concentrated: Called "lot lizards", these prostitutes solicit at truck stop parking lots and may use CB radios to communicate.
Escort or out-call prostitution[ edit ] In spite of its illegality, escort prostitution exists throughout the United States from both independent prostitutes and those employed through escort agencies.
Both freelancers and agencies may advertise under the term " bodywork " in the back of alternative newspapers , although some of these bodywork professionals are straightforward massage professionals. The amount of money made by an escort differs depending on race, appearance, age, experience e. Generally, male escorts command less on an hourly basis than women; white women quote higher rates than non-white women; and youth is at a premium. In the gay community, one escort agency in Washington, D.
Most transactions occur in cash, and optional tipping of escorts by clients in most major U. Credit card processing offered by larger scale agencies is often available for a service charge. Sites may represent individual escorts, agencies, or may run ads for many escorts. There are also a number of sites in which customers can discuss and post reviews of the sexual services offered by prostitutes and other sex workers. Many sites allow potential buyers to search for sex workers by physical characteristics and types of services offered.
Internet advertising of sexual services is offered not only by specialty sites, but in many cases by more mainstream advertising sites.
Craigslist for many years featured an "adult services" section of this kind. After several years of pressure from law enforcement and anti-prostitution groups, Craigslist closed this section in September , first for its U. In January , the "Adult" section of Backpage was closed down. However, many massage parlors , saunas, spas, and similar otherwise-legal establishments serve as fronts for prostitution, especially in larger cities. Often, parlors are staffed by Asian immigrants and advertise in alternative newspapers and on sites like Craigslist and Backpage.
They tend to have much longer working hours than parlors which are not actually brothels. They tend to be located in cities or along major highways.
Child prostitution[ edit ] The prostitution of children in the United States is a serious concern   More than , children are reportedly forced into prostitution in the United States every year  .