If you’ve ever been to lower 25th Street in Ogden, you might have noticed a parking lot across the street from the Union Station, behind some of the shops between Wall and Lincoln with a street sign that says Electric Alley.
Odd name for a street that runs through a parking lot! However, people who aren’t familiar with 25th Street’s wild history don’t know that it’s a nod to part of Ogden’s wild past; the red light district.
Electric Alley was actually one block east of the currently named street / parking lot. The original Electric Alley ran east to west, from Grant Ave to Lincoln Ave, between 24th and 25th Streets. It was “hidden” behind the respectable businesses lining 25th Street. Heading west on 25th Street you could slip into a narrow, dark walkway between the Davenport Saloon and the London Ice Cream Parlor and exit onto Electric Alley.
The two photos below show how the entrance to Electric Alley looks today from 25th Street and standing where the cribs once were, looking back toward the entrance. Long gone is the Davenport Saloon, it’s now the Thomas Hardy Salon. And while the London Ice Cream Parlor building still bears the name of Ogden’s most famous Madame, Belle London, it’s now a great place to grab a burger.
This map from 1906 shows just how many cribs there were. Each one was 8ft by 8ft and made of brick. In 1908, it was reported that each woman paid Belle London $2 per day or $12 per week to rent a crib. Today, that is the equivalent of $52 a day or $315 per week. The city officials would make the rounds through Electric Alley on the 20th of each month to collect “fines”. Belle London was fined $15 and each woman working out of the cribs was fined $5.
In 1912 city officials under immense pressure from various civil leagues finally began serious discussion to shut down Ogden’s redlight district. On Saturday, June 15th, 1912, the police conducted a final raid on the cribs and evicted all the residents. The Ogden Standard stated “the underworld district passed into history after an eventful 30-year existance.” They estimated 60 women were evicted from Electric Alley. A plan was later made to turn the 16 cribs into cold storage.
While most of the scarlet ladies were evicted from the area, Eletric Alley was still a hotbed of illegal activity for quite a few years. A map from 1950 shows that the alley and some of the original cribs still existed. They were later demolished to make room for the large parking lot that exists today.