top of page

The Segregated District

This title does not refer to segregation based on race, but to segregation of vice within the community. On July 31 JR Walker of Mansfield, IL came to Bloomington searching for his son. His son had left home two days before and had not returned. He went to the police station and an investigation was started. One policeman learned that Mr. Walker had gone to "The Library" and went to look for him there. Although his presence was denied, a thorough search found Mr. Walker. He turned out his pockets and gave his father $65. He returned home that evening, his tail between his legs.

What was Mr. Walker doing in Bloomington that had his father so alarmed?

The Library was a gambling den on Center Street, address unspecified, and part of the segregated district, as it was called in cities all over the United States. Cities would set apart one part of the city where all manner of vice could take place, and hopefully be controlled there. Now we think of segregation as being connected to race, but in all the police reports made in the Pantagraph in the 1910's none of the keepers or inmates of the houses of vice were noted to be African American. And in the 1910's the Pantagraph seems to have always noted the race of a person who was not white.

This part of town was south of downtown Bloomington and on the east side of the railroad, bounded by Center and Gridley in the 100 to 500 block. According to a column written by Bill Kemp in 2012, the segregated area persisted until urban renewal swept the houses away in the 1960's. But in the 1910's the public was railing against the segregated district and trying its very best to close it down.


Featured Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page