McGurk’s Suicide Hall

McGurk's Suicide Hall
Image from The Bowery Boys

Just finished reading Luc Sante’s Low Life: Life and Snares of Old New York and was amused by the volume of material devoted to my ancestor John McGurk’s notorious Bowery bar – McGurk’s. He served whiskey shots needled with benzene, turpentine and cocaine sweepings, in an environment bad enough to drive his ‘girls’ to suicide. Six succeeded in 1899 alone, succumbing to quickly quaffed drams of carboxylic acid. McGurk was run out of town soon after, relocating to California, where his reputation apparently prevented his daughter from enrolling in convent school. He died in 1913. McGurk’s was demolished in 2005 and 295 Bowery has been rebuilt as part of glass complex, and looks the better for it, I do declare:

295-299 Bowery

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  1. “James McGirk, a ‘Hibernian fugutive,’ is being held – possibly in Washington D.C. – for killing his wife; his execution has been stayed by President Jefferson, leading his perennial critic, editor Thomson, to wonder in print what public office McGirk is to be awarded. September 11, 1802.”

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