Saving Sin City: William Travers Jerome, Stanford White, and the Original Crime of the Century

Saving Sin City: William Travers Jerome, Stanford White, and the Original Crime of the Century

by Mary Cummings


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An operatic story of jealousy, obsession, vast fortunes, and moral crusaders set against the glittering backdrop of Gilded Age New York City.

When Stanford White, one of the most famous architects of the era—whose mark on New York City is second to none—was murdered by Harry K. Thaw in 1906, his death becomes known as “The Crime of the Century.”

But there were other players in this love triangle gone wrong that would play a part in the incredible story of White’s murderer. Chief among them was the ambitious district attorney William Travers Jerome, who had the opportunity to make—or break—his career with his prosecution of Thaw. Award-winning journalist Mary Cummings reveals a new angle to this incredible crime through Jerome’s story—a story that is ripe for our post-“Serial” era.

Thaw was the debauched and deranged heir to a Pittsburgh fortune who had a sadistic streak. White was an artistic genius and one of the world’s premier architects who would become obsessed with a teenaged chorus girl, Evelyn Nesbit. White preyed on Nesbit, who, in a surprising twist, also became a fixation for Thaw. Nesbit and Thaw would later marry, but Thaw’s lingering jealousy and anger toward White over his past history with Nesbit would explosively culminate in White’s shocking murder—and the even more shocking trial of Thaw for a murder that was committed in front of dozens of eye witnesses.

The promising young D.A. would find his faith in himself and the law severely tested as he battled colorful crooks, licentious grandees, and corrupt politicians. Cummings brilliant reveals the social issues simmering below the surface of New York that Jerome had to face. Filled with mesmerizing drama, rich period details, and fascinating characters, Saving Sin City sheds fresh light on crimes whose impact still echoes throughout the twenty-first century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781681777467
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 05/01/2018
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Mary Cummings is a writer and historian. She has been awarded by the New York Press Association for her obituary of Joseph Heller and a “Best In-Depth Reporting” Award for “Troubled Waters,” a series on Long Island’s threatened groundwater supply. She has written for The New York Times, Newsday, Time Out New York, and more, and was the arts editor and principal feature writer at The Southampton Press. She is a graduate of Smith College with a master’s degree from Stony Brook University. She lives in Southampton, New York.

Table of Contents

Prologue vii


1 "The Judge with The AX" 3

2 Passion Sparked 11

3 A Difficult Launch 21

4 On Top of The World 29

5 Coo-Goos and Grafters 41

6 Soaring Celebrity, Soaring Debts 53

7 A Hero on The Hustings 59

8 "Mad Harry" 67


9 Into The Fray 77

10 Passionate Playmates 83

11 "The King of Gamblers" 87

12 Errant Evelyn 93


13 Charlie's Folly 101

14 Heading for Trouble 105

15 The Dodge-Morse Tangle 111

16 Thaw Unmasked 115

17 Jerome's Secret 123


18 Spiraling Downward 129

19 Death in a Hansom Cab 133

20 Evelyn Ascendant 137

21 Hard Work and Headaches 141

21 Keeping up Appearances 149


23 Corporate Scandal and a Cautionary Case 155

24 Coming to Terms 159

25 "The Big Spider" 165

26 A Shopping Spree 171

27 More Challenges 175

28 Paradise Lost 183

29 Another Probe, a New Hero 187


30 Gathering Shadows 191

31 A High-Wire Act 195

32 June 25, 1906 201

33 Before The Storm 207

34 A Discreet Farewell 213

35 The Press Pounces 215

36 Girding for Battle 219


37 People V. Harry K. Thaw I: The Preliminaries 225

38 People V. Harry K. Thaw I: "The Angel Child" 233

39 People V. Harry K. Thaw I: Jerome, The Inquisitor 241

40 People V. Harry K. Thaw I: Closing Arguments 253


41 People V. Harry K. Thaw I: A "Proper Verdict" 261

42 Finished at Fifty 271

Epilogue 275

Works Cited By Chapter 283

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