search   index   by subject   by year   biographies   books  SF Activities  shop museum   contact

Enforcement of the 1914 California Red Light Abatement Act should have ended prostitution in San Francisco, but it did not. Despite the best of intentions by those interested in civic betterment, women of the Barbary Coast wished to remain there, albeit in other lines of work. The San Francisco Chronicle detailed this failure of the civic betterment campaign.

The women of the Y.W.C.A., the Associated Charities and the San Francisco Center of the California Civic League, who worked so hard to relieve the distress of women thrown out of employment when the Barbary Coast was cleaned up in 1913, probably will not go into relief work in the present cleanup campaign.

The results in 1913 were discouraging, even though Mrs. Genevieve Allen, executive secretary of the Civic League Center says her organization spent about $600 in the campaign.

There were about 500 women on the Barbary Coast at that time, and of this number Mrs. Allen says only 10 accepted help from the women who were making it their business to help them.

Although almost every big business house in the city stood ready to give employment to women who were competent to fill positions, Mrs. Allen says she knows of but one woman who went to work. She took a place as a demonstrator.

The women of the Barbary Coast said they could make more money down there, even when selling soft drinks, than they could in employment offered by the Civic League and kindred organizations and they refused to give up the life they were leading.

One investigator visited 40, 3 said they were willing to get married; 23 announced they would stay in the old line of business; 8 were going to join relatives; 3 were willing to work at honest employment; and 3 were undecided.

San Francisco Chronicle
January 31, 1917

Return to the top of the page.