A different kind of reservation : Waco's red-light district revisited.



Balderach, Amy S.

Access rights

Worldwide access.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Similar to other American cities after the Civil War, Waco, Texas, maintained a large red-light district. Commercialized sex boomed in Waco, as hundreds of itinerant prostitutes lived among working-class minorities, plying their trade in brothels in the Reservation, an area sanctioned specifically for prostitution. In 1889, recognizing both the possible ill effects of vice on the population and an easy means to obtain revenue, policymakers required prostitutes and madams to pay tri-monthly licensing fees to operate in the Reservation. Further, law enforcers frequently arrested bawds, gaining consistent revenue for their municipality. By maintaining a contradictory and inconsistent policy toward the bawdy women of the Reservation, Waco developed a method that was conducive to allowing a prosperous, albeit crime-ridden, sex trade to continue in the community until 1917, when the federal government created an army base, Camp MacArthur, which briefly provided a higher boost to the economy than sexual vice.



Waco, Texas., Prostitution., Camp MacArthur.