NY Historians: Mayor Gaynor's Cabaret Laws/Curfew?

Does anyone here know anything of the anti-ragtime, anti-cabaret regulations passed by Mayor Gaynor? I think in 1913, the same year he died?

The only reference I have found is in the song “New York, What’s the Matter With You?” which has such lines as, “Since the Mayor got the bug/For to cut the Bunny Hug.” From what I can gather, some kind of law was passed in response to the rapid spread of nightclubs and cabarets in the early 1910s.

Anyone got one of the two bios of Gaynor—do they have any good references to this?

You may want to check with OxyMoron or stuyguy. One of them (I think Oxy) said he had some unnaturally detailed knowledge of the NYC cabaret laws.

Ooooh, thanks, I will alert them.

I think it’s Stuyguy. I can, however, refer you to a resource: Gigs: Jazz and the Cabaret Laws of New York City, which my criminal law professor wrote. Pathetically, I have not read it, but should - I’d be curious to hear Stuy’s opinion of it.

Thanks for the quick reply–can you e me StuyGuy’s e-mail address, to my office e-dress? I Googled that Gig book, but it seems to detail only post-1920s cabaret laws. There are two bios of Gaynor; maybe Stuy has one. Hell, maybe he wrote one!

A quick search of my NYTimes access, cites this(in my words. Can’t cut and paste from PDF).

2 May 1912. Folies Begere Restaurant files for bankruptcy. Strict enforcement of 1 o’clock closing cut their receipts by a lot.

And a cite from 2 April 1913(Williamsport Gazette).

New York’s “LID” on at 1 A. M.
“Lobster Palaces” shut up by police on Gaynor’s Orders.

Promptly at 1 o’clock this morning the police entered the all-night restaurants in Upper Broadway and forced them to close.
This was the result of the recent order by Mayor Gaynor suspending all-night liquor licenses and instructing the police to see that all the “lobster palaces,” where cabaret shows were held, shut down on the stroke of 1.
Most of the restaurants had closed on time. In several, however, the proprietors declined to request their patrons to leave and a few arrests of diners, who refused to heed the commands of the police, were made.

First time I’ve encountered the term “lobster palaces.” Damn. I had things to do. This looks like a two hour sidetrack. Damn you. :slight_smile:

Ooooh, thanks–next week at lunchtime I will get myself to the microfilm room at the library and look up several NYC newspapers in the beginning of 1912! That’s a bit earlier than I’d thought . . .

Hmmm, just read your second post–did you get the years right, 1912 and 1913? Maybe he issued a ruling in 1912 and really clamped down the following year?

Next an April 14 cite where the Courts reversed Gaynor and said that restaurants could serve food AND have Cabaret shows after 1, but not liquor.

Eve. You’re correct and I’m wrong. It was 1913. I typing in the dark here.

Eve. This was apparently not an isolated thing. There were similar efforts in Chicago at the time. I haven’t researched it, but it might be that Chicago came first.

A September news article about Chicago says that “Tango Teas” are no longer attrractive.

They closed down “peppery” Cabaret shows.


They came for people in tights, but I didn’t wear tights, so I said nothing…etc.

Sorry guys, but Gaynor’s not one of my specialties, nor do I have any of his bios.

But I do know one thing. There’s a monument to the guy, complete with a bust of his likeness, in a Downtown Brooklyn park near the Brooklyn Bridge. Eve, if you get all worked up about his prudish edicts you can go there and spit on him. Don’t try shooting him though; that’s already been done.

Thanks, samclem (but boo on you, Stuyguy, for not being a Gaynor expert—not even Janet?). 1913 makes much more sense, and fits in nicely with my next project—it seems 1912–13 were the months where ragtime, tango teas, cabarets, nightclubs, etc., really ran roughshod over cities. People turkey-trotting, bunny-hugging and grizzly-bearing with total strangers, unchapaoned! And not just the Lower Classes, but “nice people!”

I shall have to hit the NYPL and look at papers for all the major cities for the end of 1912 and beginning of 1913. And I guess cough up some mazoola for those Gaynor bios, too.