Has Jack the Ripper Come to Town? A Gilded Age Hysteria


Manage episode 256580915 series 1530999
By Tom Meyers and Bowery Boys Media. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

EPISODE 312 The Whitechapel murders of 1888 -- perpetrated by the killer known as Jack the Ripper -- inspired one of the greatest cultural hysterias of the Victorian era. The idea that the Ripper could appear anywhere -- even in New York City.

The usual vicious crimes of gang members and roughs on the Bowery were not only compared to those of the Ripper, they were often framed as though they were the Ripper himself, an omnipresent specter of evil. The sordid misdeeds of other criminals were elevated by the press in comparisons to Jack the Ripper.

But then, in April of 1891, a crime was committed on the East River waterfront that was so brutal, so garish, that comparisons to the London killer were inevitable.
The victim was named Carrie Brown. But people along the waterfront knew her by her nickname Shakespeare (or Old Shakespeare).

This is also the story of a man named Ameer Ben Ali, an Algerian immigrant who also became a victim -- of one of the greatest instances of criminal injustice in New York City history.

This is a tale of an infamous crime, a controversial detective and an unjust conviction. And hovering over it all -- a devil, a specter of fear and violence.

Who killed Old Shakespeare?

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