sin city

“Now usually, when you tell a story like [Newport’s], there are clichés which come to mind automatically.  The town is called a “sin city,” and it has been “cleaned up” by “courageous reformers.” You’ve read hundreds of tales over the years, and in almost every story, you were reading about a few small-timers like Phenix City, Alabama, or, if  someplace larger, you were reading fantasy.  But Newport is another story.  This was the big time.”   
                                                                                                  Jimmy Breslin, writing in Saga, May, 1962.


Newport, Kentucky

Glen Schmidt's, Newport
18 East Fifth Street

 

Newport, Kentucky Newport, Kentucky Newport, Kentucky

Glenn Schmidt's Menu

 

Newport, Kentucky

The Yorkshire Club
518 York Street

The Yorkshire Club's profit statement is here, originally
published in the Kefauver Committee Report in 1951.

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Know about Campbell County Sheriff candidate George Ratterman being
photographed with half clothed stripper named April Flowers?!?  It's the single
 most defining moment in Newport history.
 Read the Kentucky Post's story, here.

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National Coverage of Newport included these:
A May, 1961 Time Magazine's article is here. An earlier March, 1954 Time magazine article  is here. Esquire's story ran in May of 1957.  It's here.
The Saturday Evening Post ran an expose  on Newport on March 26, 1960.  It's here. A Louisville Courier Journal Story from July, 1939 is here. Look Magazine Covered Newport on October 24, 1961.  It's here.
Author Jimmy Breslin wrote this piece for Saga. (pdf)

Michael L. Williams' masters thesis, Sin City Kentucky : Newport, Kentucky's Vice Heritage and
 Its Legal Extinction, 1920-1991
, is on-line at the University of Louisville, here. (pdf)

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Newport, Kentucky

Gambler's at the Hy-Dee-Ho Club, December 15, 1951,
before they figured out there was a raid in progress.
 An AP wire photo, from the Kentucky State Police

 

Newport, Kentucky Newport, Kentucky Newport, Kentucky

Latin Quarter Menu

 

Newport, Kentucky

The Latin Quarter
earlier, the Primrose Club
10 Licking Pike
In the 19th century, it was a slaughterhouse and meat packing plant.

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A candy store across the street from the 9th street school had a penny slot machine.

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Newport, Kentucky               Newport, Kentucky

Stepin Fetchit plays Newport's Galaxy Club
 

Newport, Kentucky

Jai Alai 
Delightful Piano cocktail Lounge
 *04 York Street, Newport, Kentucky 
Our delicious drinks are made for the Connoisseur, 
priced for the average person.  Your 
favorite music at Cocktail Hour and nightly
 from 7 P.M. 'til 5 A.M.

Newport, Kentucky Newport, Kentucky

Artie Dennert's Club Alexandria
 2124 Alexandria Pike
Newport, Kentucky 
Cocktail Lounge and Reception Room
 Topping the Town in Cocktail Entertainment 
We Feature Hickory Wood Cooked 
Food No Cover - No Minimum - No Admission
 The image on the right is from the collection of 
the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

 

Newport, Kentucky

The Gladiator  Restaurant 
at Third and York in Newport, Kentucky Offers the best 
of a variety of fine foods at reasonable prices.  Our appetizing 
food is available 24 hours a day. 
 Additionally, the Gladiator has nightly entertainment from 
9:00 pm until 3:00 am  No minimum or over charge. 
 Meet your Friends at the Gladiator. 
 Phone 291-1112.

 

Newport, Kentucky

E. P. Brady's Primrose Country Club
 Ky. Route 9 - 5 Minutes from Cincinnati.
Presenting 3 Floor Shows Nightly - Greater Cincinnati's
Gayest Spot - Featuring the Best Entertainment,
Food and Mixed Drinks.
“Buck” Brady, son of the pictruredf E. P. Brady,
“sold” the club to the Cleveland Syndicate,
who renamed it the Latin Quarter, a picture of which is above.

Newport, Kentucky

The Silver Slipper
 Newport Kentucky's Newest and most elaborate night club.
  The show place of the Midwest.
 Continuous entertainment. 
 Three (3) popular floor shows nightly.  
Atmosphere plus.  
613 Monmouth Street, Newport, Ky. 
3 minutes from downtown Cincinnati
(The same place operated under other names
at various times, including The Galaxy Club, Frolics,
Club Bongo, The Brass Mule, and the Stork Club)

 

Newport, Kentucky Newport, Kentucky Newport, Kentucky

The Merchants Club
That's the courthouse in the  background
 on the right in the center image

Vivian Shields Schulte's House of
Prostitution,  November 8, 1961
21 West Third  Street

An excerpt from an FBI Report, “Survey of Commercialized Prostitution Conditions,”  from 1959-1960, is here.

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Ratterman         Ratterman         Ratterman

Before George Ratterman ran for Campbell Co Sheriff,
he was a quarterback at Norte Dame, and for the Cleveland Browns.
 

Ratterman Ratterman Ratterman Ratterman Ratterman

These are all wire photo's of Ratterman as Sheriff.  Parking tickets may well have been retaliatory from certain police officers who found their income diminished when the gambling left town. What actions did Ratterman take to drive our corruption?  None.  No disrespect to the man (you had to brave to even run for the office as he did) but most -not all - of the mob saw the writing on the wall, and got out of town on their own.  The people spoke; the mob knew the gig was up.  Where'd they go?  A little desert town in Nevada called Las Vegas.

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In September of 2004, the Kentucky Post ran a
 three part story on the history of Newport.
Here's part 1,   part 2,   and part 3 .

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Newport, Kentucky Newport, Kentucky

Christian Seifried
Think of him as the first member
of the Committee 500. 

Headquarters for the Committee of 500
You can read more about Siefried and the Committee of 500 in the Saturday Evening Post story, above.

 

Newport, Kentucky

Aerial View with key to selected night spots, 1959

 

Newport, Kentucky Newport, Kentucky

George Remus, bootlegger
Read more about him at this site, or at this site.

The Closing of Cinema X,
 March 11, 1982
Newport figures who had earlier worked for
Remus include Buck Brady, Jimmy Brink,
and Glenn Schmidt
 

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Newport, Kentucky Newport, Kentucky Newport, Kentucky
AUGUST 29, 1946: Thomas Hardesly, left, and Ernest “Buck” Brady.

FEBRUARY 29, 1952: When Club Operator Was Arrested. Pete Schmidt, without hat, widely known Newport night club operator, is shown with Detective Chief Leroy Fredericks shortly after Schmidt was arrested last night for conducting a bingo game at the Glenn Schmidt Playtorium, 18 e. Fifth St., Newport. Fewer than 50 players were present when Chief Fredericks made the arrest.
 
FEBRUARY 2, 1948: Club Owner At Police Headquarters. Pete Schmidt, owner of the Glenn Rendezvous, Newport night club raided by Newport police Saturday night, is shown at Newport police headquarters as he was booked on a charge of setting up and operating a game of chance. Sgt. William Livingston registers him.

 

FROM A WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 22, 1965 ARTICLE: Buck Brady, 1920s Bootlegger, Is Dead: Ernest Alexander (Buck) Brady, 84, former Campbell County night club owner and widely known in Greater Cincinnati sporting circles before he moved to Florida a decade ago, died last Friday at Ft. Lauderdale of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Dr. R.K. Hauger, medical examiner for Broward County, Fla., said Tuesday, 9/21/65, that Mr. Brady died of a rifle bullet in his chest. The shooting took place in an alley outside his apartment at Lauderdale by the Sea. Mr. Brady had been concerned about his health, the corner was informed.
FROM  AN AUGUST 23, 1957 ARTICLE: Uncle Sam, Says 'Pay Up,' To Local Club Owner - Claim Issued for 1929 Debt: The Federal government set out yesterday, 8/22/57, to attempt to collect a $6025 fine it says a Newport night club operator has owed since 1929, the Associated Press reports
These three images are copyrighted by the Cincinnati Enquirer, and are used here with their kind permission.

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Newport, Kentucky

US Troops destroy stills in Newport, Kentucky, Feb. 21, 1922

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Newport, Kentucky 

Hugh Hayne cartoon from the Louisville Courier-Journal, February 19, 1961

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Highly recommended is “Sin City Revisited: A Case Study of the Official Sanctioning of Organized
 Crime in an 'Open City'”
from Eastern Kentucky University, a more scholarly treatment, here.

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If you have even the slightest interest in the history of Newport or the Beverly Hills fire, we urge you to get and read a copy of Robert Webster's book, The Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire:  The Untold Story Behind Kentucky’s Worst Tragedy, along with contributors David Brock and Tom McConaughy.  Webster's exhaustively researched work prefaces the story of the fire with an excellent account of the corruption in Newport that led to the fire. The book goes on the make a convincing case for the fire being the result of arson by the mob, and a cover up of that fact by Kentucky authorities.  It's in most area book stores, or you can get it online, here. Highly recommended.

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There are two novels that've been recently published by Cathie John about Newport in its infamy: Little Mexico, and its sequel, In The Name of The Father. Both are available in most bookstores, or from Amazon on the links at the sides.  They're not War and Peace, but they're a good read. We recommend both.  See the Cathie John web site, here.

 


The definitive look at the heyday of Newport is found in Hank Messick's Syndicate Wife.  Out of print editions can be found on eBay, but they're pricey.  It, too, has a sequel, Razzle Dazzle, even pricier.  Newport and Covington libraries have both on the shelves. 

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To be able to provide eye witness testimony to Newport conditions, Members of the Committee of 500 often went looking for evidence.  A member walking into the 4th Street Grill, one block from the police station, ordered a sandwich, and was told “We don't sell food here; we sell girls.”

You can read Sin City Kentucky: Newport, Kentucky's Vice Heritage and Its Legal Extinction, a masters level dissertation by Michael L. Williams, completed at the University of Louisville at the U of L's site, here.  Before you hit just automatically hit the print key, note that it's 259 page pdf.
NKU's Steely Library Archives has some oral histories done with some of the notables involved in the clean up of Newport.  You can see the list here. They say there are transcripts of the tapes you can read, but for some reason they didn't put them online for you.  Hey, NKU, can we get those posted, please?
An article from 1906 (!): Newport Citizens Start
 Crusade Against Vice is here.
...and as early as 1838, the Temperance Society Fails. Here.

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