The making of an underground market: drug selling in Chicago, 1900-1940.
Despite the obvious importance of drug marketplaces, the social scientific literature of the twentieth century paid insufficient attention to drug selling as work, or as economic enterprise. Instead, scholars have employed several traditional analytical frameworks, including: the sociological view of drug selling as deviant behavior; participation in the drug market as a manifestation of addiction and the addict's "hustling" lifestyle; or drug marketplaces as a reflection of individual and community pathology, or more recently, of "underclass" formation.(1) In each instance, drug marketplaces are meaningful only as extensions of certain moral, social, or ecological conditions. Even when the organization of drug distribution has been the object of historical investigation, prominent organized crime figures responsible for large-scale importation and wholesale distribution rather than retail level sellers have drawn the most attention.
Recent scholarly work from a number of disciplines suggests a new framework for historical analysis. One line of contemporary research employs a "market approach" which incorporates social and cultural context, and the ways they change over time. Vincenzo Ruggerio and Nigel South prefaced their 1995 study of European drug markets by describing illicit drugs "simply as commodities" which "shape and are shaped by demand and supply, exchange and consumption."(2) Another line of contemporary research takes an ethnographic approach to the participants in drug markets. Representative studies include Patricia Adler's work on upper-level drug dealers in California, and Terry Williams' more recent ethnographic study of street-level cocaine sellers in New York City.(3) Historical research into other forms of illicit enterprise also suggest ways in which drug markets might be apprehended. As Mark Haller observed, "in order to understand such activities . . . it is necessary to ask the same sorts of questions that would be asked concerning any other retail business activity."(4)
This article examines the evolution of drug distribution in Chicago between 1890 and 1940. Few legal restrictions on the drug supply existed at the start of this period, but growing concerns over the popular use of opiates and cocaine led to efforts at limiting access. By the first decade of the twentieth century, a broad coalition of Progressive reformers in Chicago were able to curtail sharply the legal supply of "dangerous" drugs. As the legal supply of opiates and cocaine shrank, public pressure and law enforcement drove the drug marketplace into Chicago's well-known vice districts. Here, a collection of independent entrepreneurs created underground drug distribution networks serving customers from throughout the city. For a few, drug selling yielded enormous rewards and a measure of status in underground Chicago. For most drug sellers, their occupation brought a small measure of economic reward, always tempered by the risk of victimization or arrest. With the closing of Chicago's "Levee" district, and the end of sanctioned vice, the drug trade moved into the Black Belt neighborhoods of the South Side. The concentration of drug selling in the Black Belt was not inevitable, but had much to do with choices made by law enforcement and city government that implicitly endorsed a containment policy for drug marketplaces.
Protecting Neighborhoods: The Origins of the Illicit Marketplace
Cities have long housed concentrations of "underground" trades in sex, drink, gambling, or bawdy entertainment. Most large cities of the nineteenth-century United States had clearly defined vice districts, such as New Orleans' Storyville or New York City's Tenderloin, formally or informally protected by public policy which aimed to contain and isolate illicit activity. Until the twentieth century, however, drug selling was only marginally related to these enterprises. The primary exceptions were the opium dens which flourished in most vice districts in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The social sanction on the use of opium for pleasure, its association with Chinese immigrants, and the desire of smokers themselves for close association outside of conventional society, combined to keep opium dens isolated. The other important link between drug selling and vice was the high prevalence of opiate use and addiction among female prostitutes.(5)
In general, however, few or no formal legal controls constrained drug distribution. Retail druggists were therefore free to dispense drug products to their customers, although a prescription requirement was increasingly common by the turn of the century. Over-the-counter medicines were widely available, any number of which might contain morphine or cocaine as a key ingredient. These same drugs were even available through the mail in some instances. Quite simply, the absence of formal or informal controls made specific underground markets unnecessary.
Underground drug selling did not appear overnight. The rise of "recreational" usage of cocaine and opiates at the end of the nineteenth century, especially among socially and economically marginal groups, created a sense of public crisis. Attacking health and safety concerns both real and imagined, a powerful coalition of forces sought to close off legal access to certain drugs. The old legal market gradually faded away, the victim of informal pressure and formal legal restrictions, and was slowly replaced by an underground market bearing most of the characteristic features of the contemporary illicit drug trade.
Events in Chicago mirrored these national trends. By 1890, the city had already developed well-defined vice districts, including the soon-to-be-famous "Levee" on the South Side. Herbert Asbury once wrote of the Levee that "the most disreputable superlative that could be imagined would fail to do it justice."(6) Yet, with the exception of a vigorous campaign against opium smoking in the 1880's, Chicago authorities still defined drug use as a private concern. Sensational stories of prominent individuals brought down by drug addiction emphasized the individual nature of the drug problem. Dr. Charles D. Bradley's story was representative: a compulsive cocaine user who initiated cocaine use at the height of his medical career, advanced to the use of one gram each day, subsequently lost his marriage, children, property and career, and was finally arrested for trying to kill a drugstore clerk who refused to sell him cocaine. Bradley's story may have been shocking, but it was not frightening. The unfortunate doctor was, at worst, a pitiable "victim of cocaine."(7)
After 1890, two trends came together in Chicago (and elsewhere) to redefine drug use as a public issue. First, the use of opiates and cocaine expanded among the residents of working-class, immigrant neighborhoods. Where drug use had once appeared to be a problem among the "respectable" classes, it now appeared to be prevalent among the socially and economically marginal. Second, Chicago's drug users were increasingly likely to be consuming for non-medical reasons, without much pretense of therapeutic necessity. Thus, the concerns over the characteristics of the city's drug-using population were joined by an equally strong distaste for their self-consciously pleasure-seeking behavior.
Cocaine was the first drug to become a major public concern. As in the rest of the United States, the popular use of cocaine in Chicago grew tremendously at the turn of the century. Readily available in pure form or in a variety of over-the-counter medicines, cocaine attracted many new consumers. In the immigrant neighborhoods of Chicago's West Side, young boys discovered the pleasures of cocaine's stimulant and euphoriant effects. As one youth described it, cocaine made him feel "as if I was going up in a flying machine" or "as if I was a millionaire and could do anything I pleased."(8) Concerned with their children s cocaine use, mothers brought the issue of drug sales from neighborhood pharmacists to the attention of Hull House. The Juvenile Court Committee reported a "restlessness and disposition to run away" among delinquent boys on parole from the John Worthy School which were "found to have their cause in the almost universal habit, among this class of boys, of using cocaine."(9) Officers of juvenile courts also observed a number of children whose parents used cocaine, and concluded that chronic use of the drug could lead to parental neglect. By 1908 the phrase "as crazy as a West Side dope fiend" had entered the lexicon of city residents.(10)
In 1904 Jessie Binford, who would later become the long-time head of the Juvenile Protective Association, had just moved to Chicago and taken up residence at Hull House. For her first project, Binford was assigned the task of investigating the cocaine problem, identifying the source of sales, and eliminating those sales. Over the next several years, Binford organized a remarkable coalition of public and private Progressive reform interests. The attendees of a 1904 Hull House conference on the cocaine question highlighted the breadth of Binford's coalition: Binford, Jane Addams, Julia Lathrop, public health pioneer Dr. Alice Hamilton, an attorney from the State Board of Pharmacy, several mothers of young cocaine users, local physicians, and representatives from the Chicago Bureau of Charities, the Chicago Police Department, and the Juvenile Court Committee. Binford was later joined by Municipal Court Judge Frank Sadler, and House of Corrections Superintendent John Whitman.(11)
The efforts of the Hull House coalition must be distinguished from the activities of the many moral entrepreneurs who crowded into Chicago decrying the evils of drugs and drink. While evangelists and temperance advocates marched through the streets, the Hull House reformers introduced two distinct and important dimensions to the anti-drug movement. For the first time, public and private interests worked together to limit the legal supply of opiates and cocaine in the city. In addition, the anti-cocaine movement emphasized the traditional Progressive critique of corporate and business interests profiting at the expense of the public. As The Commons observed regarding the Hull House campaign, "greed for profits has led to crimes of every description, on the part of individuals and large corporation interests, but few have been more diabolical than the deliberate and designing plot to enslave young boys in the horrible toils of the cocaine habit."(12) Finally, the Hull House coalition helped to define the drug problem as a public health issue. The cocaine campaign, for instance, immediately followed the efforts of Dr. Hamilton and others to reduce the incidence of tuberculosis and typhoid and to improve housing conditions on the West Side. Like the unsanitary tenements which produced disease and degeneracy, cocaine seemed to produce its own kind of degeneracy. The process was poorly understood, but the results seemed clear enough, as the Juvenile Court Committee observed: "quickly and surely the brain cells are destroyed, and victim is left a mental, moral, and physical wreck."(13)
To deal with the drug threat, the Hull House coalition sought to control the legal distribution system through passage of restrictive legislation. The result was a trial-and-error process of creating new state and local regulations. As early as 1893 the Illinois legislature had attempted to limit the popular use of opiates by imposing labeling requirements on patent medicine manufacturers. The preamble to this proposed legislation stressed the links between drug control and public health: "In the public health the necessity of guarding against contagious diseases, the indiscriminate practicing of medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry, has been recognized in nearly every state of the union. But amid all this restriction and supervision . . . stalks a specter of death and destruction, claiming its victims from the babe in the cradle to the octogenarian."(14) Opposition from the drug trade and the health professions delayed passage of any state legislation until 1897, and even this law was widely regarded as ineffective and unenforceable. In 1903, the State Board of Pharmacy secured the passage of a new state law which prohibited the sale of cocaine except upon the prescription of a physician. Shortly thereafter, the board sent twenty-five Chicago druggists the following letter:
Report on credible authority has been made that, in spite of public attention in the press and pharmaceutical journals, you still sell cocaine contrary to law. You are hereby notified, by registered letter . . . that I have given you due warning. To sell cocaine in any way, shape or manner, no matter under what name and in what compound, without a prescription from a licensed physician, is contrary to the criminal code, and subjects you to a heavy fine; and on second offense to fine and imprisonment. . . . if after receipt of the registered notice you still persist in this violation, you, and you alone, are responsible for the trouble that comes to you.(15)
Despite the severity of the board's language, a number of "loopholes" immediately presented themselves: the law failed to mention any of cocaine's close chemical cousins, contained no prohibition on multiple refilling of prescriptions, and did not cover sales by wholesale drug firms. Moreover, the 1903 state law only provided for a fine of between 25 and 200 dollars and the possibility of up to six months in jail, and repeated offenses were punishable only by the fine. In 1905, Chicago passed a local anti-cocaine ordinance which required cocaine to be sold in packages no smaller than the smallest of original packages sold by wholesalers. This measure was designed to "stop the sale of cocaine and morphine for other than legitimate purposes." In 1907, the state legislature modified the 1903 legislation and raised the penalties for violations, largely at the urging of several Chicago Municipal Court judges, Hull House, and the Superintendent of the House of Correction.(16)
In the West Side neighborhoods where the concerns over cocaine use first emerged, there was always some ambivalence about the reformers' efforts. Neighborhood residents may well have been troubled by the easy availability of opiates and cocaine. Parents who sought assistance through Hull House or the juvenile court demonstrated by their actions concern over drug selling. Most importantly, the expense of a cocaine habit strained the finances of many working-class and unemployed users. Even under the best of circumstances, where retailers did not inflate their prices, dilute their product, or otherwise take advantage of their customers, a habitual user would have spent thirty cents a day to purchase ten grains of cocaine; some habitual users purchased between twenty and sixty grains a day. Adding to the burden, buyers rarely found cocaine for only three cents a grain. David Musto has shown that the retail price of a "deck" (1.3 grains) of cocaine in New York after 1908 was twenty-five cents.(17)
On the other hand, as Lizabeth Cohen and others have observed, residents of Chicago's working-class immigrant neighborhoods could be deeply suspicious of state intervention in private life.(18) The retail druggists charged with selling cocaine and opiates could be viewed sympathetically as honest businessmen engaged in legitimate trade. As Dr. Hamilton herself recounted, one the strongest strategies for defendants in criminal cases was to call for a jury trial: "The defendant druggists in our cases always demanded a jury trial and their lawyers always intimated that we from Hull-House were meddling, high-brow reformers, trying to keep an honest man from earning his living."(19) Jane Addams remembered neighborhood reaction in a similar fashion: "I recall an Italian druggist living on the edge of the neighborhood, who finally came with a committee of his fellow countrymen to see what Hull-House wanted on him, thoroughly convinced that no such efforts could be disinterested. . . . Through all this the Italian druggist, who had greatly profited by the sale of cocaine to boys, only felt outraged and abused."(20) Similar sentiments also turned some pharmacists against the state pharmaceutical organization, which was widely (and correctly) thought to be dominated by middle-class druggists suspicious of their immigrant brethren.
In spite of the mixed reaction of some West Side neighborhood residents, the campaign against drug selling between 1904 and 1909 achieved much of what it intended. In a narrow sense, their efforts succeeded in subjecting West Side pharmacists and drug sellers to repeated arrest and prosecution, forcing them to move or close their business. Prosecution of cocaine-selling druggists was a difficult affair, as Jessie Binford related to the Legal Aid Society, which funded some of her work at Hull House:
In the prosecution of cases we have to have someone witness the sale of the "dope," as they call it, then an analysis made, as they sell other substances closely resembling cocaine, whenever they are at all suspicious of the purchase. If it proves to be cocaine, we then have the man who owns the drug store arrested, as well as the clerk who made the sale. Under the city ordinance they can be fined to the extent of $200. Mr. Dudley, attorney for the State Board of Pharmacy, will proceed in each case we get, under the State law, under which a fine of $200 can be imposed for the first offense and $1,000 for the second conviction, as well as the revocation of the license.(21)
As Binford's report made clear, the regulations limiting cocaine sales were worthless without a great deal of effort on the part of interested parties to pursue investigations and convictions. Between 1904 and 1908, the Hull House anti-cocaine movement invested enormous time and energy to the cause, and they achieved much of what they intended. The annual report of the Juvenile Court Committee observed that "one druggist told our officer that there were sixty-one druggists selling cocaine in the city; that he did not intend to stop selling unless everyone else did the same. However, after being brought into Court and fined five times, he changed his mind and said he would cease selling the drug."(22)
Two years later, the annual report of the Juvenile Court Committee proudly announced that the cocaine problem in the city was over.(23) The committee failed to note, however, that drug selling had not disappeared, despite their success in narrowing the legal market in opiates and cocaine. Rather, underground drug marketplaces emerged in Chicago's three flourishing vice districts: first, the eighth police district on the Near North Side of the city, especially along N. Clark Street; second, a portion of the West Side along Madison Street just to the north of the Hull House neighborhoods; and third, the South Side "Levee" whose vital center was the area between 18th and 22nd streets and between Wabash and S. Clark Streets, and which also included the city's Chinatown. The concentration of illicit activity in these areas was as much a matter of policy as personal choice; Chicago's civic leaders and law enforcement officials maintained that there was an ongoing need to contain and isolate illicit trades in "red-light" districts. Reinforcing this view, Chief of Police Shippy posed a series of pointed rhetorical questions to the city's residents in 1908: "we can drive out every occupant of the 22nd Street district in forty-eight hours. But do you want us to drive them into the lake, as has been suggested? Do you want them driven to the resident districts? What do you want done with them? Isn't it better to keep them corralled in one spot with their names and histories tabulated?"(24)
Into the Levee: The Organization of the Drug Marketplace
Drug selling in Chicago constituted a "market," in the simple sense that individuals were engaged in buying and selling a specific commodity. That drug selling constituted a "marketplace" - at least in the traditional sense of the term as an open and public area of exchange operating under legal approval - is less certain. An examination of the organization of drug selling and the relationship of sellers to their community, however, suggests that the distribution of opiates and cocaine can be understood as both market and marketplace.
Specific locations where drugs were bought and sold defined part of the underground marketplace. In Chicago, as elsewhere, two types of retail settings predominated. The first were those locations where drugs were both sold and consumed. The most obvious examples were the opium dens which concentrated near the South Side Levee and Madison Street on the West Side. Opium smoking establishments in twentieth-century Chicago were not the public "dens" prominent in other cities in the nineteenth century. Instead, opium smokers gathered in private residences, cheap hotels, and retail shops. Alongside the opium smokers' hangouts were the "hop joints" and "snow pads" where morphine, heroin, or cocaine were available. When investigators for the Chicago Civil Service Commission examined illegal drug sales in the city, they found 43 of the 44 identified outlets located in or around the three vice districts - 8 on the Near North Side, 27 in the Levee precincts, and 8 in the West Side district.
The more prevalent type of exchange involved the purchase of drugs for use elsewhere. Sellers conducted business from fixed locations throughout the levee, including hotels, saloons, brothels, cigar stores, newsstands, drugstores and pool halls, private homes, apartments, street corners and alleys. While retail sales took place in diverse settings, long-time customers always seemed to know where and how to find their connection. In the course of one hour in the summer of 1914, investigators from Charles Merriam's City Council Committee on Crime observed thirty-seven people "of all classes, both white and black" knock on the back door of one South Side residence and purchase small packages of cocaine. As the investigators noted, "some of the men and women could not wait until they got out of sight and snuffed the cocaine in the alley back of this place," where some of the users sat for hours drinking beer and sniffing cocaine, periodically going back to the building for more. This system of distribution may have seemed wide open, but it was closed in important ways - one investigator approached the back door three times without it opening, apparently because he was unaware of the correct knock.(25)
The experience of Merriam's investigator hints at a still more important defining characteristic of the marketplace in opiates and cocaine - the networks of relationships between sellers and their customers. The Chicago experience does not strongly support the traditional image of retail drug dealers actively seeking to recruit purchasers and initiate the unsuspecting. To be sure, the local press occasionally reported stories of drug sellers marketing reduced-cost drugs to younger customers in order to "hook" them, and some retailers did in fact employ "route builders" who peddled to young boys in neighborhood pool rooms. In general, however, sellers operated a distribution system closed to those without connections. The drug trade relied on trust and long-term relationships, a reciprocal arrangement in which sellers demanded the discretion and loyalty of buyers, and buyers rewarded those sellers with a reputation for providing a product of consistent quality and avoiding police entanglements. Bingham Dai observed in 1936 that "It is generally denied by drug addicts, most of whom are petty peddlers at one time or another, that they ever try to make proselytes. On the whole, this denial is borne out by our limited experience with drug users."(26)
Contacts between buyer and seller involved a variety of signals and codes, all designed to protect the distribution system from detection. On the West Side, customers entering one laundry and asking for a "liverwurst sandwich" received a roll with a packet of smoking opium inside. The Record-Herald marveled at the "free masonry of drug users" which protected the trade: "a stranger who tried to buy cocaine from them would have his trouble for his pains, but the regular cocaine fiend has no trouble. He knows that if he goes to certain sections of the city in which the peddlers make their headquarters he can get all the 'dope' he wants, if he has the money, even though he could not buy it at a reputable drug store ... the usual way of doing it is easy. Without a word the one who wants cocaine, knowing the ropes, places the exact change in the hands of a man who has it to sell. He knows better than to ask for it; he wouldn't get it if he did."(27) Sellers also employed intermediaries (both formally and informally) to screen potential customers. In such an apparently public distribution system, the importance of long-term relationships, trust, and reliability is striking.
The use of such intermediaries suggests the complexity of distribution roles in the underground drug market. At the very top of the retail distribution system were those figures who combined wholesale and retail functions. Individuals who reached this level in Chicago before 1920 usually had some connection to the legitimate drug industry, either as retail druggists or through contacts with legitimate wholesale drug firms. The Vice Commission of Chicago observed that it was "practically impossible to ascertain exactly how much cocaine or morphine any particular [drug]store buys in spite of the fact that wholesale houses keep a record" because some drugstores turned in written orders for small amounts, but asked for and received larger amounts.(28) After 1920, diversion of the legal supply was largely replaced by international smuggling operations. J. H. Montgomery, a pharmacist who operated a South Side drugstore, exemplifies the wholesaler-retailer role. Montgomery supplied smoking opium, morphine, heroin, and cocaine to numerous lower-level distributors, including the owners of the above-mentioned cocaine distribution center observed by Merriam's investigators. When the investigators approached Montgomery seeking to purchase opium, he replied that he was willing, but that "it is better for you buy it by the pound so that you will not have to come so often."(29)
Only a few Chicago retailers attained this level, but those who did were well known, and reaped enormous profits from the business. Among the high profile sellers in the city before 1920: Montgomery; Adolph Brendecke, who owned two West Side drugstores targeted by Hull House; Eugene Hustion, an African-American cocaine distributor in the South Side levee; a man known only as "Omaha" or the "King Cocaine Dealer" who reportedly employed twenty-five to thirty men and women, selling drugs "on a 20% basis"; and Jim Hing, popularly known as the "Rockefeller of Dope." When police raided Hing's laundry, they discovered a dazzling array of personal articles which testified to both the profitability to sellers and the high costs of a drug habit. Among Hing's cache were clocks, vases, rugs, furniture and jewelry (including twenty wedding rings).(30) Eugene Hustion and his college-educated wife Lottie began their operations in 1904, and were still actively in business in 1914. The Hustions obtained his supply through the wholesale drug firm of Knox, Greene, and Company, operated several "subagencies" throughout the South Side, stocked over thirty pounds of cocaine at their Dearborn Street location, and sent runners nightly to some of the most famous houses of prostitution in the city. According to Hustion, he had "gross daily sales as high as $200, of which $160 was profit."(31)
At the next level in the distribution system were the full-time retailers, the "men who sell cocaine all day long for a living" as one Chicago newspaper put it. As noted, wholesalers like Montgomery sold to a number of these full-time retailers, such as Cato Stevens. Stevens bought smoking opium by the pound at Montgomery's drugstore, and then supplied a number of smaller retail locations, such as the Monroe Hotel, home of a black "hop-joint" operated by a man named "Allen" and protected by two police officers who smoked opium there each night.(32) Another example of the distribution chain: a retailer named "Little Montie" purchased large quantities of smoking opium at a South Side saloon, and operated his own route, which included customers like Eddie Creeley and Jock Ross, owners of an rear apartment at 2217 Wabash Avenue "where the mob comes to smoke any time they feel like it."(33)
The operations of these full-time dealers also required numerous part-time employees to carry out various functions, including soliciting business and running drugs to customers. Merriam's Committee on Crime estimated (somewhat conservatively) that there were between 75 and 100 runners engaged in retail drug sales in the city.(34) Walter Manson worked for a drug retailer in the early 1920s in Chicago, and described his role as follows: "the addicts would call on the phone for me to meet them and then I would find out how much they wanted, and would then take these to them. This was the job I had and it was easy. All I had to do was watch for the officers and not get caught."(35) Sellers at this level were paid to take the risks of conducting highly visible street sales.
At this level, a kind of sub-market operated. These sellers were often users themselves, working for a full-time retailer in exchange for a steady supply of drugs for personal use. These user-sellers frequently bargained with other users who lacked the same connections, stole from their employers when they could, and generally engaged in the kind of "hustling" lifestyle observed among heroin users in several notable post-World War Two studies.(36) Walter Manson, for example, would provide female addicts with heroin in exchange for sex. Manson also employed a variety of cons, such as claiming to have been robbed, in order to extract more of his employer's supply for personal use; when his stealing became too obvious, he simply "disappeared" for a while. Full-time retailers, for their part, treated the problems caused by their part-time distributors as part of the regular expense of doing business.(37)
To further develop the profile of the participants in Chicago's retail drug markets, ninety-nine drug sellers have been identified through newspaper accounts and the reports of Merriam's investigators. All ninety-nine were active in the early underground drug market between 1903 and 1915. Neither the investigators nor the newspapers provided a consistent range of seller characteristics, yet the data do begin to suggest some commonalties. First, many sellers operated in their own neighborhoods, living in close proximity to where they sold. Racial segregation, of course, meant that even high-level African-American sellers such as the Hustions were forced to stay relatively close to the drug marketplace. Still other sellers conducted business directly from their own residences. Second, the business of drug selling was the only reported vice interest of retailers. In only four of ninety-nine cases were retailers explicitly identified as participants in organized prostitution or gambling. Retailers clearly had other proprietary interests (at least ten owned the retail establishments from which drugs were sold), but there seems to have been little direct proprietory overlap among the underground trades. Third, the business was overwhelmingly male. Of the ninety-nine sellers identified, eighty-seven were male. Of the twelve female sellers, at least four were in business with their husbands. Fourth, most sellers were linked to small distribution networks, although these combinations of sellers do not appear to have been very extensive or fixed. Among the thirty-five retailers whose operations were based in or around the Levee, twenty-one were reported to be operating in connection with at least one other retailer.(38)
Another defining feature of the underground drug marketplace was the extent to which it was connected to the other institutions of the neighborhood. Messenger boys delivered drugs, hotel employees arranged purchases for customers, and bartenders acted as part-time distributors. The Vice Commission of Chicago recorded some of these distribution networks in operation, observing that a levee madam "is in the habit of calling up Mr. ----- and ordering a certain quantity of cocaine, who in turn calls this messenger boy and sends it out to her residence." In this way, "the messenger becomes an important link in the system whereby cocaine and various other drugs used by habitues are secured by them." Another prostitute determined that messenger boys "talked too much and cannot be trusted," and instead commissioned a newsboy to purchase cocaine for her.(39) Inevitably, these extensive distribution networks strengthened the connections between the drug market and other levee institutions, including the abundant cheap hotels, saloons, brothels, pool halls, drugstores, cigar stores, and clubs.(40)
Finally, the police were a daily part of the drug trade in the city, although their role was hardly consistent. At times, political pressure to "clean up" certain areas of the city forced the Chicago police into their role as active agents of the government. The ensuing police sweeps were always well publicized, as reporters tipped off in advance watched the police send both buyers and sellers scrambling. In the confusion of Christmas raids on the West Side in 1911, reporters covering the action watched young Walter McKendrick dive head first from the third story window of Hector Mariner's cocaine flat. In between the periodic roundups, police activity targeted the small-time sellers who operated in the most visible ways, and could not afford to pay substantial protection money. Sellers on the street were constantly on the watch for being "pinched" by the police, sometimes developing a habit of selling and walking at the same time to avoid attracting too many addicts at once and drawing unwanted attention to themselves. Because the earliest laws dealt with sales, not possession, sellers caught with drugs would often be charged with disorderly conduct or some other offense. In this way, an arresting officer could take a seller into custody without having to prove that a sale had taken place. As a consequence, only twenty-five criminal cases for cocaine selling were disposed of in the Municipal Court of Chicago between 1908 and 1913, despite the reported arrest of a far greater number of sellers.(41)
At other times, the Chicago police operated as independent agents whose loyalty was for sale to the highest bidder. The evidence is overwhelming that most sellers paid police for protection as a routine part of their business, with payoffs varying according to the rank of the officer and the size of the seller's business. West Side opium dens paid patrolmen from the Desplaines Street station one dollar a week, while Eugene Hustion paid over $3,000 dollars a year to continue his operations in the Levee.(42) The payoffs and corruption continued even after passage of the federal Harrison Narcotic Act in 1914 brought federal agents to Chicago. Federal agents took payoffs from dealers, and confiscated drug supplies promptly disappeared from government warehouses. Even when local police and federal agents were not on the take, they seldom made much difference to the operation of retail drug markets. The real problem, according to one federal agent, was a reluctance to "lock horns with the higher ups," as officials "simply meet with stool pigeons and knock off the petty peddlers that they turned in."(43)
In sum, the underground drug marketplace in Chicago was an important part of the neighborhoods in which it thrived. Forced out of many of the city's residential neighborhoods, drug sellers took refuge in the complex network of vice interests which dominated the South Side Levee district, Madison Street on the West Side, and North Clark Street on the Near North Side. Operating a visible but closed system of distribution, sellers relied on relationships with each other, with their employees, customers, other vice interests, neighborhood businesses, and the police to maintain their trade.
"The Ghost of the Levee": Drug Dealing Moves to the Black Belt
The campaign to limit legal sales of opiates and cocaine achieved much of what it had intended. These drugs were no longer legally available without a physician's prescription, most city drugstores exercised careful scrutiny over sales, and the patent medicines which had thrived on their opiate or cocaine content were rapidly disappearing from the market. As the legal supply shrank, an important new underground drug trade developed within the traditional geographic centers of Chicago's underground economy. In the Levee, drug sellers had created a new distribution system which drew customers from throughout the city. Almost immediately, however, the forces of Progressive reform instigated another shift in the location of drug selling, this time towards the South Side Black Belt, the segregated residential area housing the majority of the city's African-American population. By 1920, the drug selling which had been concentrated around the Levee between 18th and 22nd streets (which already bounded the northern edge of the Black Belt) had shifted further south to the area between 31st and 35th streets, into the heart of Chicago's rapidly growing African-American neighborhoods.
The impetus for the shift was the highly successful campaign, waged between 1910 and 1914, to end "wide-open" vice in the Levee. Propelling the effort was a succession of public and private organizations, which included: the Chicago Civil Service Commission, Vice Commission, Law and Order League, Committee of Fifteen, and Charles Merriam's City Council Commission. In a remarkable series of investigations and reports, these groups exposed the political corruption which sustained the Levee, and roundly condemned the continued existence of segregated vice districts. The fate of the Levee was sealed when the city government turned slightly but significantly toward the reform forces, with the grudging support of Mayor Carter Harrison II. The Chicago Police Department created a highly effective Morals Division, replaced the notoriously corrupt captain of the 22nd Street police station, and closed down brothels and dives by the dozen. The days of segregated vice in the Levee were largely over by the end of 1914. Expecting this crackdown to be as temporary as all the others which had preceded, the leaders of the Levee's underground economy confidently proclaimed they would soon be back in business.
As the leaders of the Levee predicted, the vice trades, including drug selling, revived fairly quickly, but in new locations under the control of new interests. As with the earlier anti-cocaine campaign on the West Side, the ultimate effect of the crackdown was a shift of the center of operations for the underground markets. Now, the drug trade moved further south, into Chicago's Black Belt. As in many cities, the vice districts in Chicago had always been in fairly close proximity to African-American neighborhoods. Drug selling continued to thrive around Madison Street on the West Side, and to some extent on North Clark Street, but the heart of the drug trade was now the Black Belt. The Herald and Examiner had this to say of the new underground markets at 31st Street: "They say the levee is dead. Perhaps it is, but the ghost of the levee is stalking about the streets and alleys of the South Side, manifesting unmistakable desires for resurrection."(44)
By the 1920s, the 31st Street area was the heart of the Black Belt's night life, with an entertainment district featuring the cabarets and dance halls that nurtured Chicago's emergent jazz scene. When Louis Armstrong arrived in Chicago from New Orleans in the summer of 1922, he headed straight for the Lincoln Gardens dance hall at 459 East 31st Street. The Lincoln Gardens, Dreamland Dance Hall, Entertainers Cafe, Pekin Cafe and many others drew musicians from across the country, and supported a notoriously wild and rowdy night life. The city's underground trades flourished among these legal entertainment venues. The traditional gambling, drug and sex trades moved into the area, along with a vast new underground liquor distribution system which appeared with the advent of national alcohol prohibition. Much as the old Levee had, the Black Belt entertainment and vice district drew people from all over the city, something which the Chicago News noted in disapproving remarks in 1922: "the lawless days of the famous 'red light' district when the demimonde and the professional gambler, under the appraising eye of the police, were once more restored in the South Side negro belt ... without a doubt this district is the foulest spot in Chicago. Black and tan cabarets, buffet flats, soft drink saloons, and every form of vice are flourishing."(45)
Indeed, of all the features of the 31st and 35th Street entertainment and vice districts, the most objectionable seemed to be its attractiveness to Chicagoans of every class and race. The purported evil effects of this kind of interaction, particularly at the "black and tan" cabarets, received much mention in the wake of the city's deadly race riot of 1919. Following days of violence in which much property was destroyed, hundreds were injured, and at least thirty-eight people died, many critics observed that the worst violence had occurred in the heart of the entertainment district, and concluded that solution would be to end the "intermingling of races" in the Black Belt. Throughout the 1920s, Chicago officials made periodic attempts to shut down the clubs that newly elected Mayor William Dever called "vile in the last degree."(46)
It was in the volatile atmosphere of the Black Belt vice district that the drug trade established a new center. During the first two terms of Mayor William Hale Thompson, between 1915 and 1923, the new vice districts of the Black Belt operated in much the same fashion as had the old segregated districts. The Thompson administration, it was well-known, stood for the "open town" and a low-key approach to vice suppression. Drug sellers continued the tradition of operating out of fixed locations, including many clubs and retail establishments in the area. The Iowa Club, for example, was a black-owned business whose manager and entertainers were drug consumers as well as distributors, paying protection money to police officers who frequented the club. Along 31st Street, a pool room drew a dozen or more "snow fiends" regularly, and cocaine and heroin were available at a massage parlor for 25 cents a shot.(47) Marijuana selling in particular seemed to echo the wide-open spirit of the early years of drug selling; the popularity of "tea pads" and "reefer dens" highlighted the social nature of marijuana distribution.
Despite some continuities, drug selling in the South Side Black Belt after 1920 was a different kind of enterprise in some important respects. First, although fixed locations were still important to the business, they appear to have been less permanent than before, and were more likely to be rooms in apartment buildings or cheap hotels. Second, street selling became more central to retail activities. When Bingham Dai looked for the "centers of illicit drug traffic in the city" he found that South Side street corners such as 31st and State, 31st and Wabash, 26th and State, 22nd and Wabash, and 22nd and Michigan as "being some of the favorite street corners for the meeting of drug addicts and peddlers."(48) Third, legal prohibitions on opiates and cocaine probably drove buyers and sellers into greater proximity than ever before. Although drug selling became an underground trade well before the federal Harrison Narcotic Act ushered in national drug prohibition, tighter legal controls meant that many users found it easier to simply stay close to their source of supply. Fourth, organized criminal syndicates were now in control of drug importation and wholesaling. As federal control measures restricted the legal production system from which most drug supplies had been diverted, the syndicate stepped in to manage the complicated task of delivering narcotics into Chicago. As one dealer informed federal drug agent Maurice Helbrandt in the early 1930's, "The Syndicate will take away all the dope a man's got if they find he brought it in from out of town and is selling here in Chicago. You got to buy from them." Most profits, of course, went to the syndicate interests, and the importance of independent entrepreneurs such as Eugene Hustion waned.(49)
Despite changing circumstances for drug sellers, one constant was the importance of Black Belt neighborhoods as a center for the trade. Bingham Dai's doctoral dissertation at the University of Chicago identified the centers of drug selling in the city based on 1,591 cases from the federal Bureau of Narcotics and the Narcotic Division of the Chicago Police Department gathered between 1929 and 1934. Of 120 "sub-communities," the highest number of arrests was in the old West Side vice district, along Chicago's bleak Skid Row and "Hobohemia." Seven of the next eight districts with the highest arrests totals, however, were either wholly or partly within the Black Belt, accounting for 678 arrests.(50)
Contemporary accounts seldom emphasized the role of public policy in creating the Black Belt drug market. Observers frequently attributed the prominence of drug selling to the degeneracy of the residents themselves, or to the lure of the immoral city to newcomers from the South. Even many long-time residents, as James R. Grossman has observed, were quick to find fault with the new migrants who crowded into the emerging ghetto side-by-side with the underground trades.(51) This view grew into what many Chicagoans viewed as a kind of conventional wisdom, of the kind offered by Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer in their sensationalistic book Chicago Confidential: "During the war, when the Chicago labor shortage was more severe than in most places because of the diversity of her plants and her unequaled transportation setup, it was not unique for a farmhand who had never owned $10 at one time to earn $200 a week with overtime. This started the Bronzeville boom, with its drinking and doping and the resultant laxities that blossomed into flagrant vice."(52) Sociologists refined this argument into one of social disorganization, as Dai did in the 1930s: "here the control of traditional mores and of what are ordinarily called primary-group associations, such as the family and local community, is practically nil, and the individual's life, thereby, often lacks organization or direction."(53)
Subsequent generations of scholars rejected the social disorganization argument in favor of one which defined participation in the underground trades as an adaptive form of niche employment (or even as an empowering choice among narrowly restricted work opportunities). As Mark Haller concluded, "In ways that were both destructive and productive, the black experience in the city was linked to the opportunities that lay in the vice resorts, cabarets and dance halls of the teeming slums."(54) Haller's conclusions echoed St. Clair Drake and Horace R. Cayton's 1945 sociological study, Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City. Drake and Cayton described the importance of "policy" - illegal lottery gaming - to the economic and social life of the African American community in Chicago, and underscored the prominence of the "policy kings" who ran the operations.(55)
Like policy and other illicit enterprise, drug selling was undeniably profitable for some Black Belt residents, and provided one kind of opportunity. But drug selling never achieved the "status" of policy, as Drake and Cayton observed. Even in the run-down neighborhoods of the northern Black Belt, where most of the trade concentrated, most residents objected to the easy access to opiates and cocaine the sellers brought. The congregations of addicts on street corners, the unwanted police attention, the affronts to moral sentiment, and the feeling that the ultimate profit went elsewhere all worked to keep popular sentiment against the drug trade. It seems clear that drug selling thrived in the Black Belt despite the wishes of most residents, and for reasons beyond their control. Thomas Philpott's conclusion that "Black people were helpless to prevent the authorities from locating the red-light district where they lived, just as they were unable to stop whites from segregating them" may ignore some of the ways in which the drug trade may have served useful purposes, but it does suggest that historians must consider those outside forces which helped keep the drug marketplaces in the Black Belt.(56)
Perhaps the most visible of these forces were the city officials and police who adopted a policy of vice containment. In the tradition of formal vice segregation, most Chicagoans never rejected the idea that underground trades would always exist, and that their isolation was a more reasonable goal than elimination. The 1922 report of the Chicago Commission on Race Relations strongly emphasized the double standard of vice regulation for the city's black neighborhoods: "little consideration is given to the desire of Negroes to live in untainted districts, and they have not been able to make effective protest." The report spoke of "roistering saloons ... a kind which would not be tolerated in any other part of the city since the old Twenty-Second Street levee was broken up." The report emphasized the importance of outside interests to the operation of Black Belt vice trades: "White proprietors have brought them into the district, and many of them are patronized by crowds from other parts of the city. The resorts are forced on the colored people. Many white owners of real estate who speak in horrified whispers of vice dangers view such dangers with complacency when these are thrust among colored families."(57)
The emergence of syndicate control of high-level drug distribution also reinforced the location of drug retailing. In the run-down areas of the northern Black Belt, the syndicate found a useful base of operations. As Walter Reckless observed, "the vice syndicates often let the slum families - specially Negroes on the Near South Side - use their houses or buildings for residence or store front churches. Sometimes there is a poor Negro family or store front church on the ground floor and quarters for a vice assignment on the second or third floor." Reckless noted that the ability of underground trades to avoid detection depended in part upon "the use of a great deal of slum property - more or less vacated buildings and houses ... bought up by vice syndicates in large numbers." Former Levee operators moving south toward Thirty-First Street found new properties in the Black Belt where they could renew operations, and "they could afford to pay high rents.... numbers of real estate owners profited greatly by dealing with them." The dilapidated housing nearby attracted many of the worst drug addicts, who could afford little better for their residences. One such building on Wabash Avenue housed twenty-one drug users.(58)
The geographic concentration of drug selling proved to be one of the most enduring features of Chicago's underground enterprise, a legacy of Progressive-era anti-drug crusades and ghetto containment of vice. In the summer of 1950, with heroin use on the rise among Chicago's youths, the Sun. Times ran a series of articles detailing the city's drug problem. Jessie Binford, who had first dealt with drug selling upon her arrival in the city in 1904, determined that the Juvenile Protective Association would reprint the series under the title Dope - And Chicago's Children. In the publication's foreword, Binford wrote: "the sale of 'dope' to minors and their addiction to this devastating, consuming habit now presents one of the most menacing and destructive conditions this Association has ever faced." If Binford echoed many of the themes of 1904 in her 1950 work, so did the report's conclusion about the patterns of drug sales in the city. "The great majority" of addicts, the report observed, bought their drugs in the South Side ghetto. In what the Sun-Times called the "social jungle" of the ghetto, drug peddlers sold from "their own flats or hotel rooms ... pool halls, saloons, cheap night clubs, and elevated railroad stations." "You walk along 43rd any old night," an addict recounted, "and just say to one of them pool room bums, 'Seen the swing man?' and pretty soon you can get what you need."(59)
To explain the enduring presence of illicit drug marketplaces in the "social jungle" of the twentieth-century city, generations of social scientific studies defined participation in the underground trade as a by-product of ghetto life, or of urban decay. This study, however, employs a social historical approach in treating drug selling as a form of enterprise defined by the daily exchanges between buyers, sellers, neighborhood residents, and police. With a few notable exceptions, Chicago's underground drug sellers never achieved great financial rewards. Most drug retailers simply sought to exploit the limited opportunities to make some money, exchange drugs for favors or sex, or simply to support their own drug habits. Even these limited rewards, however, were sufficient to attract hundreds of Chicagoans into the illicit drug business in the early twentieth century. Above all, sellers constantly looked for ways to minimize the risks they faced in carrying out their public transactions. The result was a highly visible marketplace in illicit drugs that was essentuially closed to outsiders. By maintaining strong networks of personal associations with buyers and other sellers, individuals in the retail drug trade established reputations for reliability critical to maintaining their enterprise.
The Chicago experience also highlights the importance of neighborhoods to the retail drug trade. At least as much as legitimate business, the city's underground trades needed to adjust to the social and spatial dimensions of the surrounding community. The Levee offered drug sellers a fairly stable network of neighborhood institutions, from brothels to cigar stores, from which to operate. The regulated vice district also allowed the most social aspects of the drug business, from opium dens to snow pads, to flourish in long-term fixed locations. The closure of the Levee sent the trade further south, into the Black Belt, where for a time the entertainment district offered an echo of the old Levee. By the early 1930s, drug sellers conducted a street-comer trade, no longer able to rely on long-term fixed locations, and more dependent on a series of flophouses and cheap apartments. The sellers' constant process of adaptation to changing community conditions reveals how closely the retail drug trade integrated itself into neighborhood structures.
Finally, although this study emphasizes the ways in which the exchanges between buyers and sellers defined the character of the drug marketplace, its location was also the product of constant external pressures. While drug marketplaces brought a measure of opportunity for some, they were never really a welcome part of any Chicago neighborhood. Where sufficient time, resources, and political power could be mobilized and brought to bear, a community might rid itself of an unwanted drug trade, as the efforts of the Hull House coalition suggest. Anti-drug legislation was useless without the kind of coordinated public/private effort which drove the West Side druggists out of business. Where either resources or cooperation were lacking, as in the case of the South Side Black Belt, city policy settled comfortably into a policy of vice containment. City government took little sustained action, real estate interests profited from the use of dilapidated housing, and organized crime syndicates took most of the earnings. Law enforcement, in the meantime, pursued a policy of frequent arrests of drug retailers and their customers, without seriously confronting the conditions that allowed the trade to thrive in the first place.
Center for Studies in Criminology and Law and Department of History Gainesville, FL 32611-5950
1. On drug selling as deviance, much of the relevant literature focused on drug involvement more generally as a reflection of subcultural value systems. Howard S. Becker's article, "Becoming a Marijuana User," American Journal of Sociology 59 (November, 1953) was among the most influential. On drug selling as a manifestation of addiction or the addict's hustling lifestyle, see: Harold Finestone, "Cats, Kicks, and Color," Social Problems 5 (July, 1957); Edward Preble and John J. Casey, Jr., "Taking Care of Business: The Heroin User's Life on the Street," International Journal of the Addictions 4 (March, 1969) and Alfred R. Lindesmith, The Addict and the Law (Bloomington, 1965). The classic social scientific literature identifying drug selling as a manifestation of various individual and community pathologies includes: Isidor Chein, et. al., The Road to H: Narcotics, Juvenile Delinquency, and Social Policy (New York, 1964); Kenneth B. Clark, Dark Ghetto: Dilemmas of Social Power (New York, 1965); and Richard A. Cloward and Lloyd E. Ohlin, Delinquency and Opportunity (New York, 1960). A more recent work which draws upon this tradition is Elliot Currie, Reckoning: Drugs, The Cities, and the American Future (New York, 1993).
2. Vincenzo Ruggerio and Nigel South, Eurodrugs: Drug Use, Markets, and Trafficking in Europe (London, 1995). See also, Peter Reuter, Robert MacCoun, and Patrick Murphy, Money from Crime: A Study of the Economics of Drug Dealing in Washington, D.C. (Washington D.C., 1990).
3. Patricia Adler, Wheeling and Dealing: An Ethnography of an Upper-Level Drug Dealing and Smuggling Community (New York, 1985); Terry Williams, The Cocaine Kids: The Inside Story of a Teenage Drug Ring (Reading, MA, 1989). Another interesting ethnographic study is Edmundo Morales, Cocaine: White Gold Rush in Peru (Tucson, 1989).
4. Mark H. Haller, Illegal Enterprise: Historical Perspectives and Public Policy," in History and Crime: Implications for Criminal Justice Policy, James A. Inciardi and Charles E. Faupel, eds. (Beverly Hills, 1980). See also Mark H. Haller, "Organized Crime in Urban Society: Chicago in the Twentieth Century," Journal of Social History 5 (Winter 1971-2): 210-234. On the business of prostitution, there is an excellent and well-developed historical literature, including: Timothy Gilfoyle, City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 1790-1920 (New York, 1992); Gilfoyle, "Policing of Sexuality" in Inventing Times square: Commerce and Culture at the Crossroads of the World, William R. Taylor, ed. (New York, 1991); Paula Petrik, No Step Backward: Women and Family on the Rocky Mountain Mining Frontier, Helena, Montana, 1865-1900 (Helena, 1987); Ruth Rosen, The Lost Sisterhood: Prostitution in America, 1900-1918 (Baltimore, 1982) and Neil Larry Shumsky, "Tacit Acceptance: Respectable Americans and Segregated Prostitution, 1870-1910, Journal of Social History 19 (1986): 665-679. For the most part, the historical literature on drug control tends to focus on the treatment of drug addicts, the development of legislation, or the institutional history of drug enforcement agencies. Nevertheless, there is revealing information concerning the retail drug trade to be found in a number of these studies, including: Virginia Berridge and Griffith Edwards, Optium and the People: Opiate Use in Nineteenth Century England (London, 1987); Alan A. Block, "Organizing the Cocaine Trade," in Organizing Crime, Alan A. Block and William J. Chambliss, eds, (New York, 1981); David T. Courtwright, Dark Paradise: Opiate Addiction in America Before 1940 (Cambridge, 1982); David T. Courtwright, Herman Joseph and Don Des Jarlais, eds. Addicts Who Survived: An Oral History of Narcotic Use in America, 1923-1965 (Knoxville, 1989); Marek Kohn, Dope Girls: The Birth of the British Drug Underground (London, 1992); David F. Musto, The American Disease: Origins of Narcotic Control (New York, 1973); and Terry Parssinen, Secret Passions, Secret Remedies: Narcotic Drugs in British Society, 1820-1930 (Philadelphia, 1983).
5. On the prevalence of opiate addiction among American prostitutes, see Anne M. Butler, Daughters of Joy, Sisters of Misery: Prostitutes in the American West, 1865-90 (Urbana, IL, 1985), 67-69.
6. Herbert Asbury, Gem of the Prairie: An Informal History of the Chicago Underworld (New York, 1940), 246.
7. For Bradley's story, see the accounts by D. R. Brower, "The Effects of Cocaine on the Central Nervous System," Medical Age 4 (1886): 29, and "Cocaine's Destructive Work," New York Times (January 25, 1886).
8. Alice Hamilton, Exploring the Dangerous Trades (Boston, 1943), 100-103; these reactions were noted in other cities as well, with young Pittsburghers reporting that they felt "as if I were Andrew Carnegie."
9. Annual Report of the Juvenile Court Committee (1905-1906), 2-3, Folder 125b, Juvenile Protective Association Papers, Special Collections Department, University Library, University of Illinois at Chicago. [hereafter JPA]
10. Charles W. Collins and John Day, "Nightmare of Cocaine," Everyday Life (September, 1909), 4-5; for additional material noting cases of cocaine use among parents and siblings of delinquents, see Sophonisba P. Breckenridge and Edith Abbott, The Delinquent Child and the Home (New York, 1912).
11. Hamilton, Exploring the Dangerous Trades, 100-103; Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House (repr. ed., Chicago, 1990), 173; the efforts of the Illinois State Board of Pharmacy to control cocaine sales are partially recounted in "The Sale of Cocaine and Cocaine Snuffs," American Druggist 42 (March 9, 1903): 124.
12. "Profit in Child Victims to Cocaine," The Commons 9 (1904): 423.
13. "President's Address," Annual Report of the Juvenile Court Committee (1907-1908), 19, Folder 125b, JPA.
14. "Patent Medicine Legislation," Western Druggist (April, 1893): 128. To further the cause of legal control, a branch of the Legal Aid Society was established at Hull House. See William B. Hale, "The West Side Office of the Legal Aid Society at Hull House," Legal Aid Society of Chicago Quarterly Review 3 (April 1906): 1-2.
15. "The Sale of Cocaine and Cocaine Snuffs," American Druggist 42 (March 9, 1903): 124.
16. "New Cocaine Ordinance," Pharmaceutical Era 34 (November 16, 1905): 455-456; see also Chicago Record-Herald, Dec. 14, 1903; Jan. 1, 1904; Feb. 12, Oct. 15, 16, 1907; Jan. 20, Mar. 2, 1908, and Chicago Chronicle, Sept. 3, 1904.
17. Jim Baumohl has demonstrated that even a drug's legal availability was of small comfort to those without the means to purchase it. Baumohl demonstrates that this was true of morphine addicts in pre-Harrison Act San Francisco, concluding that "we must acknowledge the extreme economic pressures on working and lower-class addicts. Baumohl, "The Dope Fiend's Paradise Revisited: Notes From Research in Progress on Drug Law Enforcement in San Francisco, 1875-1915," The Surveyor 24 (1992): 3-12.
18. Lizabeth Cohen, Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939 (Cambridge, Eng., 1990).
19. Hamilton, 100-103.
20. Addams, 173.
21. Jessie F. Binford, "Report of Work During March of West Side Office of the Legal Aid Society at Hull House in Cocaine Cases," Legal Aid Society of Chicago Quarterly Review 3 (April, 1906): 2.
22. Charles H. Leichliter, "Fighting the Demon Cocaine," Sunday Record-Herald (November 29, 1908): 5; Louise de Koven Bowen, "Closing Remarks by the President," Annual Report of the Juvenile Court Committee (1905-1906), 21, Folder 125b, JPA.
23. For police activity during 1908, see Chicago Record-Herald, Apr. 10, May 15, and June 4, 1908.
24. Chicago Record-Herald, Sept. 28, 1908.
25. Civil Service Commission, Final Report Civil Service Commission City of Chicago Police Investigation 1911-1912 (Chicago, 1912), Appendix "A"; Special Report, Case No. 2550 (July 30, 1914). Charles Merriam Papers, Vol. 87, folder 6, University of Chicago Special Collections, Joseph Regenstein Library, Chicago IL [hereafter Merriam Papers].
26. Bingham Dai, Opium Addiction in Chicago (Shanghai, 1937), 160-161.
27. Chicago Record-Herald, Nov. 28, 1908. One of Merriam's informants talked with two "sporting women and dope fiends," and commented that it was hard to get any drugs at present. "Stella said that it all depended upon who the person was and who they had been doing business with, and what kind of dope they wanted." "Special Report," August 21, 1914, Vol. 87, folder 6, Merriam Papers. See also "Like Opium! Ask For a Liverwurst Sandwich," Chicago Record-Herald, Oct. 22, 1910.
28. Vice Commission of Chicago, The Social Evil in Chicago (Chicago, 1911), 85.
29. "Special Report," July 31, 1914, Vol. 87, Folder 6, Merriam Papers.
30. Vol. 88, Folders 1, 6, and 7, Merriam Papers; Sunday Record. Herald, Nov. 29, 1908.
31. Chicago Record. Herald, June 24, 1910; December 19, 1911; February 15, March 8, 1912; "Special Report," August 10, 1914, Merriam Papers; Civil Service Commission, Final Report Civil Service Commission City of Chicago Police Investigation 1911-1912 (Chicago, 1912), 26; and Asbury, Gem of the Prairie.
32. "List of Saloons and Drug Retailers," n.d. [probably 1914], Vol. 88, Folder 1, Merriam Papers; "Special Report," July 30 and 31, 1914, Vol. 87, Folder 6, Merriam Papers.
33. "Special Report," August 1, 1914, August 25, 1914, and August 29, 1914, Vol. 87, Folder 4, Merriam Papers.
34. Report of the City Council Committee on Crime (Chicago, 1915), 172-173; "Lists of Saloons and Drug Retailers," Vol. 88, Folder 1, Merriam Papers.
35. Ben Karpman, Case Studies in the Psychopathology of Crime, Vol. II, 85.
36. Notable post. war studies of drug addicts include: Isidor Chein, The Road to H: Narcotics, Delinquency and Social Policy (New York, 1964) and Edward Preble and John J. Casey, Jr., "Taking Care of Business - The Heroin Addict's Life on the Street," The International Journal of the Addictions 4 (March, 1969): 1-24.
37. Karpman, 87.
38. The following sources provided information on individual drug sellers: reports of the investigators of Charles Merriam's City Council Commission on Crime, Vol. 87, Folders 3,4,6, and 7, and Vol. 88, Folders 1,6, and 7, Merriam Papers; The Chicago Record-Herald; and various newspaper clippings in the Crerar scrapbooks, University of Chicago Special Collections, Joseph Regenstein Library, Chicago IL.
39. The Vice Commission of Chicago, The Social Evil in Chicago, 243-244.
40. "Special Report," August 26, 1914, Vol. 87, Folder 4, Merriam Papers.
41. Report of the City Council Committee on Crime (Chicago, 1915), 88d-88e. The only exception to the low number of drug arrests was for the criminal misdemeanor of being an "inmate of an opium den." Unlike drug sale laws, this was quite easy to prove, and was widely used before passage of the federal Harrison Narcotic Act in 1914. The peak year for arrests in this category was 1901, when the Chicago Police Department made 534 such arrests. For the period 1897-1914, police made an average of 218 arrests per year for residing in an opium den. For those years in which more detailed arrest reports are available, 88% of arrestees were male. Police reports identified 48% of arrestees as "American", 36% as "American colored", and 9% as "Chinese." Chicago Department of Police, Annual Report of the General Superintendent of Police of the City of Chicago, 1900, 1902, 1907-1909, 1911-1912, 1914-1920.
42. For West Side opium dens' payments, see Chicago American, October 27, 1903; for the Rivard Brothers drugstore, see "Special Report," August 25, 1914, Vol. 87, Folder 3, Merriam Papers; for Eugene Hustion, see Chicago Record-Herald, December 19, 1911. On graft paid by drug sellers to police more generally, see Vice Commission of Chicago, The Social Evil in Chicago (Chicago, 1911).
43. Drug sellers remained a significant source of payoffs for Chicago police officers throughout this period and beyond. The 1952 report of the Emergency Crime Committee of the Chicago City Council (better known as the Kohn Commission) alleged that city officials were indifferent to drug selling in city slums, and that some officers took money from drug sellers in exchange for protection. See Aaron Kohn, ed. The Kohn Report: Crime and Politics in Chicago (Chicago, 1953), 40-45.
44. John Landesco, Organized Crime in Chicago, new ed. (Chicago, 1968).
45. Landesco, Organized Crime in Chicago; James Lincoln Collier, Louis Armstrong: An American Genius (New York, 1983). Among the more colorful descriptions of the South Side in the 1920's are Milton "Mezz" Mezzrow and Bernard Wolfe, Really the Blues (New York, 1946).
46. The Chicago Commission on Race Relations, The Negro in Chicago (Chicago, 1922); John R. Schmidt, 'The Mayor Who Cleaned Up Chicago": A Political Biography of William E. Dever (DeKalb, IL, 1989), 80.
47. "Special Report," July 29, 1914, Vol. 87, Folder 6, Merriam Papers.
48. Dai, Opium Addiction in Chicago, 92.
49. Dai, Opium Addiction in Chicago, 90-94.
50. According to Walter Reckless, the same patterns held true for prostitution - while the 22nd Street Levee district accounted for 34.6 percent of all resorts found by the Committee of Fifteen in 1914, by 1929 the same area accounted,for only 2 percent of the resorts. In contrast, the Black Belt neighborhoods of "Douglas, "Oakland" and "Grand Boulevard" "Kenwood" and "Washington Park" accounted for 23.2 percent of resorts in 1914, 55.8 percent in 1922, and 47.5 percent by 1929 (the slight decrease because of the growth of roadhouse prostitution). Reckless, Vice in Chicago (Chicago, 1933).
51. James R. Grossman, Land of Hope: Chicago, Black Southerners, and the Great Migration (Chicago, 1989).
52. Jack Lair and Lee Mortimer, Chicago Confidential (New York, 1950), especially Chapter Four.
53. Dai, Opium Addiction in Chicago, 189.
54. Haller, "Organized Crime in Urban Society," 210-234.
55. St. Clair Drake and Horace R. Cayton, Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City (Chicago, 1945).
56. Thomas Lee Philpott, The Slum and the Ghetto: Immigrants, Blacks, and Reformers in Chicago, 1880 - 1930 (New York, 1978).
57. The Chicago Commission on Race Relations, The Negro in Chicago (Chicago, 1922).
58. Reckless, Vice in Chicago, 96-97 and "Indices of Commercialized Vice Areas," Journal of Applied Sociology (Sept. 1925): 249-257. On syndicate drug operations more generally, see Alson J. Smith, Syndicate City (Chicago, 1954).
59. Herman Kogan, Dope - and Chicago's Children (Chicago, 1950), JPA.
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|Date:||Sep 22, 1998|
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