Tenderloin District

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How, when and why did the Tenderloin district get its name? thanks.. Barbara Wood

-- Barbara Wood (babsark47@aol.com), September 26, 2001


First, may I refer you to the second entry under the word "tenderloin" at yourdictionary.com:

[from its making possible a luxurious diet for a corrupt police officer] : a district of a city largely devoted to vice

AND THEN -- may I refer you, with great pleasure, to our beloved Turk Murphy:

Ace In The Hole This town is full of guys... Who think they're mighty wise, Just because they know a thing or two... You see them every day... walkin' up and down Broadway, Telling of the wonders they can do. There's con men and there's boosters... Card sharks and crap-shooters, They congregate around the Metropole, They wear fancy ties and laces... But where do they get their aces.. They all have got an ace.. Down in the hole!

Chorus.. Some of them write to the old folks for coin.. and that is their ace in the hole, And others have friends on the old Tenderloin.. That's their old ace in the hole..

Bridge.. They'll tell you of trips that they're going to take.. From Florida to the North Pole... The fact is their name would be mud.. Like a chump playing stud... If they lost that old ace down in the hole! (Repeat bridge)

-- Rosa Debonneheure (rosadebon@yahoo.com), September 26, 2001.

The tenderloin is the tender meat alongside the vertebral column. In a city, it refers to the old "main drag" of saloons, parlors, whorehouses, gambling and dance halls. In New York at one time, it was lower Broadway. It was the "tender meat" to the police, who were bought off to protect the interests of the owners of these establishments of (mostly) vice. It was also "the good stuff" to itinerant gamblers, hookers, musicians, card sharps and billiard sharps [they were "sharp" at their skills -- later corrupted to "pool shark"]. In New Orleans, it was Basin Street. In smaller towns, the "tenderloin" was often Main Street. Often synonymous with "red light district".

-- David Nereson (davner@kaosol.net), August 25, 2003.

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