New York Alimony Club

History, Lower East Side

Ludlow Street Jail, Boss Tweed, New York Alimony Club, historic NYC jails

Ludlow Street Jail (L) and men playing billiards inside (R), via NYPL

Public shaming of cheaters was around long before the Ashley Madison scandal. In fact, in the 19th century, men who divorced their wives and didn’t pay alimony were sent straight to jail.

Atlas Obscura uncovered the fascinating history of the Ludlow Street Jail, New York City’s federal prison on Ludlow and Broome Streets. Built in 1862, the jail mostly held debtors, but it also was where men who cheated on their alimony payments ended up, thus turning the “prison” into a glorified clubhouse for divorced men known as the New York Alimony Club. In addition to cigar smoking and unsavory jokes, the Ludlow Street Jail became known for back-door deals, rampant corruption, and the baffling semi-imprisonment of Boss Tweed.

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