The Architecture of Seattle?s Historic Prostitution Trade: Seattle Vice and the Sweet Painted Lady Commerce

The Architecture of Seattle?s Historic Prostitution Trade: Seattle Vice and the Sweet Painted Lady Commerce

by Marques Vickers


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"The Architecture of Seattle's Historic Prostitution Trade" is a photographic examination of 48 documented and probable buildings employed in Seattle's historical sex commerce. The 245-page edition illuminates the historical background, building detailing and known anecdotes behind each structure. The principal Seattle red-light neighborhoods include the Pioneer Square and the Ballard districts. The infamous LaSalle Hotel in Pike Place Market and the former Lester Apartment complex located on Beacon Hill round out the compilation. The 500-unit Lester building was once considered the largest operating brothel in the world.Seattle's wide-open frontier environment in the late 19th century stimulated a proliferation of vice related services including gambling houses, saloons and houses of prostitution. Statutes were loosely enforced, law enforcement corruption rampant and the tax revenues levied against brothels and sex workers essential to maintaining a financially destitute municipality.Many historians have noted that the prostitution industry saved the expanding settlement and literally paved the sidewalks of the commercial district. The timber industry, Klondike Gold Rush (1896-1899) and the city's seaport location swelled the region's influx of males seeking entertainment, social diversions and female companionship.Vickers book profiles some of the most colorful and influential personalities including theatre impresario John Considine and notable Madams Mary Ann Boyer (nicknamed Madame Damnable), Lou Graham and Nellie Curtis. The author elaborates on the documented history, owners, architects, tenants and historical uses of each building. His text cites distinctive architectural details on the composition, façade components and alterations over the decades following the initial construction. Each building is photographed from multiple angles offering a multi-faceted perspective glimpse. This is Vickers' second book on known prostitution centers. In 2017, he published "The Red Light District of Butte Montana".Pioneer SquareThe history of the historic Seattle downtown business district begins in tidal flatlands off the shoreline of Elliott Bay. These early garbage dumps escalate into mounting hillsides. This contrasting topography forms the Pioneer Square district. The prostitution houses of the Tenderloin (red-light district) tended to concentrate below the lava beds south of Mill Street (now Yesler Way). Constricted crib houses, often consisting only of a single bed, enabled prostitutes to practice their craft expediently. The women serviced incoming loggers, sailors and during the Klondike Gold Rush (1897-1899), mining prospectors. With this continued influx of males, brothels and box houses thrived. First Avenue became a magnet for approximately sixty such enterprises. Box houses were known as low-end theatres featuring actresses offering drinks and personal sexual services. Any restaurant or saloon with upstairs accommodations was assumed to be a practicing brothel. Public perceptions and social mores altered. Periodic local reform movements followed licentious tolerance,Ballard DistrictThe Ballard district of Seattle originally was a separate community incorporated in 1890 before voting to annex with Seattle in November 1906. As an established seaport, incoming sailors sought recreational diversions during their stretches of shore leave. Ballard brothels followed a familiar pattern of composition. Saloons, restaurants and commercial businesses were located on the ground level with lodgings on the upper. Shared bathroom facilities were common and rooms might change guests multiple times during a weekend evening. Steadily over the decades, more enduring and legitimate architecturally designed commercial buildings replaced early simplistic wood-framed structures.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781979765336
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 11/14/2017
Pages: 246
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.56(d)

About the Author

Visual Artist, Writer and Photographer Marques Vickers is a California native presently living in the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle, Washington regions.

He was born in 1957 and raised in Vallejo, California. He is a 1979 Business Administration graduate from Azusa Pacific University in the Los Angeles area. Following graduation, he became the Public Relations and ultimately Executive Director of the Burbank Chamber of
Commerce between 1979-84. He subsequently became the Vice President of Sales for AsTRA
Tours and Travel in Westwood between 1984-86.
Following a one-year residence in Dijon, France where he studied at the University of
Bourgogne, he began Marquis Enterprises in 1987.

His company operations have included sports apparel exporting, travel and tour operations, wine brokering, publishing, rare book and collectibles reselling. He has established numerous e-commerce, barter exchange and art websites including,,, and
Between 2005-2009, he relocated to the Languedoc region of southern France. He concentrated on his painting and sculptural work while restoring two 19th century stone village residences.
His figurative painting, photography and sculptural works have been sold and exhibited internationally since 1986. Between 2008-2011, he was a part-time instructor in the Benicia
Unified School district. He re-established his Pacific Coast residence in 2009 and has focused his creative productivity on writing and photography.

His published works span a diverse variety of subjects including true crime, international travel,
California wines, architecture, history, Southern France, Pacific Coast attractions, auctions, fine art marketing, poetry, fiction and photojournalism.
He has two daughters, Charline and Caroline who presently reside in Europe.

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