SSN – Saving Sin City – A Book by Mary Cummings

Booktrib Interview – Saving Sin City: Mary Cummings on Murder, the Gilded Age and the Original Crime of the Century

“It was the original crime of the century.

On June 25th, 1906, a shot rang out in Madison Square Garden, leaving of one of the greatest architects and most famous of New York’s socialites dead.

Stanford White, who designed New York’s Washington Square Arch, Madison Square Garden and the Rosecliff Mansion, was murdered by millionaire Harry Thaw as hundreds of people watched. Years before his murder, White had fallen in love with a young actress named Evelyn Nesbit, who seemed to return his attentions. But White had two sides to him and one night, he assaulted Nesbit horribly.

Despite the attack, Evelyn Nesbit remained committed to White, falling even more deeply in in love with him – even after he no longer loved her.  White wished to stay on as her benefactor, paying for the education she and her brother received. In an effort to spark his jealousy, Nesbit made the mistake of getting close to Harry Thaw, the son of an incredibly well-known family who used their wealth to cover up the sadistic things he did for fun. Thaw became obsessed with Nesbit, and seeing the social status and celebrity of Stanford White, his main rival, Thaw obsessed over him, too.

While Thaw and Nesbit eventually married, his obsession did not stop just because she said, “I do.” Thaw’s obsession with White was growing and continued to do so until he killed him that summer night.

What followed almost seems too strange to be true, but sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. Not only did a prosecutor with obvious political ambitions fail to convict Thaw, he was hailed as a hero afterwards.

So where did it all go so wrong? How did the all-consuming power of money and corruption in the Gilded Age create the perfect storm that resulted in murder? To find the answer to these questions and more, we talked with historian and Saving Sin City author, Mary Cummings.  Here, Cummings discusses her research, who Thaw really was and how the prosecutor lost the trial.”

Read the rest of the interview here:


About the Author

Mary Cummings is a writer, historian, and an award-winning journalist whose work has been recognized by the New York Press Association. She was a regular contributor to the New York Times for ten years, writing feature stories for its Long Island coverage. She has also written for TimeOut New York, Newsday, Columbia Today and numerous other publications. She was the arts editor and principal feature writer at The Southampton Press for seven years and has written three books on local history: “Southampton,” “Hurricane, 1938,” and “One Hundred Years of Healing,” a study of the role of Southampton Hospital in the social history of the Hamptons. In recent years, she has been a staff member at the Southampton History Museum, managing its Research Center and using her free time to indulge her fascination with Gilded Age New York, gathering the material and writing the story that became “Saving Sin City.” Raised in Southampton, New York, she is a graduate of Smith College and holds a master’s degree in liberal studies from Stony Brook University. She lived in France for two years, and after her marriage, she and her husband lived in several American cities, as well as in Ethiopia, before returning to the States to raise their two sons. She currently lives in Southampton.