Thaw (White Murder) Trials (1907-08)

"You see, it had in it wealth, degeneracy, rich old wasters, delectable young chorus girls and adolescent artists' models; the behind-the-scenes of Theatredom and the Underworld, and the Great White Way.... the abnormal pastimes and weird orgies of overly aesthetic artists and jaded debauchees. In the cast of the motley show were Bowery toughs, Harlem gangsters, Tenderloin panderers, Broadway leading men, Fifth Avenue clubmen, Wall Street manipulators, uptown voluptuaries and downtown thugs."  [Irvin S. Cobb, a reporter in 1907, explaining why the trial of Harry Thaw for the murder of Stanford White was "the trial of the century."]

One beautiful girl, two extravagant and prominent men. Throw in jealousy and a family history of mental instability and you have the recipe for a shocking murder, at an outdoor theater in the heart of New York City in front of nearly a thousand witnesses. The trial that followed was quickly dubbed "the trial of the century." The 1907 trial, and a second the next year after the first jury hung, helped closed the curtains on America's "Gilded Age."

Fifteen-year-old Evelyn Nesbit came to New York City in December 1900 to continue a modeling career that had begun to blossom in her home state of Pennsylvania. Within days of her arrival, one of the city's most respected painters, James Carroll Beckwith , hired what he called this "perfectly formed nymph" to pose twice a week at his 57th Street studio. Soon, Nesbit, with her fresh and inscrutable face, found herself in great demand for modeling jobs, both among photographers and portrait artists. The girl dubbed by reporters as "the Little Sphinx" appeared on post cards and magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, and the Ladies' Home Journal. Evelyn Nesbit became America's first genuine pin-up girl...."Continued