Filed Under Butte

Pleasant Alley "Venus Alley"

Butte National Historic Landmark District

Brick pavement is the only enduring feature of this once-promiscuous alley of national ill repute. By the 1890s, Pleasant Alley and other smaller alleys were the dingy backyards where the less favored women of Butte’s sprawling red light district eked out a living. In halfhearted response to reform-conscious citizens, officials decreed in 1903 that prostitutes and their one-room “cribs” fronting Galena and Mercury streets were too visible. The city ordered these “public” women to don high-necked blouses, lengthen their skirts and lower their blinds in an attempt to curtail open solicitation. Instead they took to alleys like this one, pushing their less fortunate sisters into the district’s even darker recesses. In many cases, windows and doors were simply cut into the backs of the existing cribs. Prohibition and World War I closed the alleys in 1917. In the 1930s, illicit business activity resumed on a smaller scale along this street, renamed “Venus Alley,” until all cribs were closed by federal law in 1943.

Images

Venus Alley
Venus Alley Mural and Statues Source: Montana Historical Society Creator: Bryan Baldwin Date: August 8, 2022
Sign location
Sign location Location of National Historic Register Sign Source: Montana Historical Society Creator: Bryan Baldwin Date: August 5, 2022

Location

41 East Mercury Street, Butte, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Pleasant Alley "Venus Alley",” Historic Montana, accessed April 15, 2024, https://historicmt.org/items/show/2089.