The legend of Storyville has remained firmly ensconced in popular memory long after the official closure of the district in 1917. Over the years, stories about the District have repeatedly appeared in music, film and the arts. The local tourism industry has also attempted to profit off this history, publishing, and selling facsimile blue books.

From the Scarlet Past of Fabulous New Orleans
by Thurman W. Reeves
New Orleans: Thurman W. Reeves, 1951
The Historic New Orleans Collection, 77-1371-RL

The Blue Book Guide to Pleasure for Visitors to the Gay City
New Orleans, 1963
The Historic New Orleans Collection, The William Russell Jazz Collection, acquisition made possible by the Clarisse Claiborne Grima Fund, MSS 536, 92-48-L.62.483

Blue Book, Tenderloin “400”
by Institute of Louisiana Music and Folklore
New Orleans, [1970s]
gift of Friends of Jefferson Public Library, 2003.0268

Pretty Baby screenplay
by Polly Platt
March 22, 1977
gift of Gary Hendershott, The Historic New Orleans Collection, 2015.0221.3

Filmed in New Orleans and released in 1978, Pretty Baby was a tribute to New Orleans’s fabled red-light district by French filmmaker Louis Malle (1932–1995). It was controversial in its depiction of an underage prostitute, Violet, played by Brooke Shields (who was only twelve years old at the time of filming), and for its advertising campaign, which emphasized Shields’s youth in a sexually charged setting. Susan Sarandon starred as Violet’s mother, also a prostitute, and Keith Carradine played a character named “Papa” Bellocq, very loosely based on photographer Ernest J. Bellocq. The title comes from the 1916 hit song by New Orleans pianist Tony Jackson.

Pretty Baby movie poster
1978; offset lithography
by Paramount Pictures
The Historic New Orleans Collection, 2014.0506.95