Murder in the Treasury Building in DC, 1865 refers to not one specific murder. For more than a decade (1855- late 1860’s) the area between 14th and 15th street was notoriously known as Murder Bay. Starting out my scavenger hunt, I typed in “Murder in Treasury Building DC” this lead me to a site called “Washington DC during the Civil War.” In a small segment of this article, there’s a portion of a paragraph mentioning the strip of DC around the 1860s , known as Murder Bay and Red light district. That was the first piece of the puzzle. I typed in Murder Bay into Google and nothing came up. So then I tried Red Light District DC and a wiki link popped up. There wasn’t much information except for a few sentences stating that the area was filled with high profile casinos, prostitution, and mostly adult businesses. I couldn’t find anything murder related. Finally I went to my search engine and typed in “Red Light District DC also known as Murder Bay.” Found a link and a article title, “Washington’s Rough and Tumbled Lost neighborhood of Murder Bay.” ZING! Mostly everything I was looking for was in there, including tons of primary sources. There were Maps of the Hookers Division (Murder Bay) from 1880, named after General Joseph Hooker. Pictures of scenarios with prostitutes. There was one picture of the actual neighborhood of Murder Bay from a distance (1855). Finally there was a piece from an article in the Washington Post 1888, by a person who experienced the horror that occurred in Murder Bay. Based on the information I collected Murder Bay was the worst place to be walking during nightfall. There were tons of Hooker houses, thieves, murderers, gamblers, etc. The low-lives of Murder Bay would slit throats from ear to ear after they’d steal all of innocent peoples belongings. Most of their victims consisted of respectable business men and young women but the unsophisticated commoners were attacked as well. The reason behind why these murder incidents kept happening was because the entire system was corrupt. Police officers were helpless and powerless and couldn’t identify these criminals. A lot of murders went un-investigated, giving these criminals a sense of reassurance that they weren’t going to be punished for their heinous crimes. Even the fire fighters that were sent over to guard the area, took part in the sexual misconduct and bad behavior. Finally, police managed to exert their authority over Murder Bay by catching a murder suspect. He was convicted, and finally punished. The finding of one of the murderers calmed things down for a bit in Murder Bay because the criminals weren’t feeling as invincible. It wasn’t until a fire occurred in Brientown (mostly hooker houses), where the horror began to subside. One of the most evil areas of Murder Bay had finally disappeared. Eventually, the entire area began to change for the better. Law enforcement took control, criminals and hookers began to flee, and the area began to flourish.
Links to the three sites I used: