Early 20th century Santa Rosa tolerated prostitution, and the town’s newspapers mostly kept mum about the doings at the dozen or so “Female Boarding Houses” just a few steps away from the courthouse (or at least, until a series of events in 1907 brought the bordellos under scrutiny – but that’s getting ahead of the story).
But what did residents call this section of town, centered on the intersection of 1st and D streets? There was a passing mention of it being the “redlight district” in a 1905 article about blight around nearby Santa Rosa Creek, but the small crime blotter item below reveals that it was commonly known as the town’s “tenderloin.”
“Tenderloin district” was apparently coined in the 1870s to identify a rough part of Manhattan. The earliest reference for San Francisco appears to be 1891, coming into common newspaper usage around 1894.
Charged With Stealing Coin
Rob Maxwell was arrested this morning by Chief of Police Fred Rushmore and Officer John M. Boyes. He is charged with having stolen the sums of $19 and $13.50 from two women of the tenderloin. One of these charges was admitted by Maxwell under the questioning of Officer Boyes, and the accused told what he had done with a trunk key and the purse which contained stolen money. Maxwell spent the night Saturday in the house, and secured the key to a woman’s trunk, from which he extracted the purse and coin. Warrants were sworn to before Justice Atchinson.
Maxwell later pled guilty to a charge of taking money and not guilty to a second charge. Justice Atchinson has not pronounced sentence.– Santa Rosa Republican, June 11, 1906