Places that Matter
McGuirk's "Suicide Hall" (site of)
Place Matters Profile
At the turn of the 20th century, the Raines Law forbade distribution of alcohol on Sundays in all businesses except for hotels with 12 rooms or more. Many working-class saloons skirted this law by expanding to upper floors and creating "hotel rooms." In notorious areas like the Bowery, these establishments quickly became brothels. McGuirk's opened in 1895 under this guise. Although McGuirk's was only in business for seven years, it managed in only a few to acquire the nickname, "Suicide Hall." A notorious dive, McGuirk's business was reliably steady and patrons became victims to pickpockets and short-change bartenders. Later, a series of prostitutes and others who had reached the end of their lines took their lives there, usually by consumption of poison.