How postbellum New Orleans's sexual practices and protocols gave rise to Storyville, the most notorious red-light district in the country. With a well-earned reputation for tolerance of both prostitution and miscegenation, New Orleans became known as the Great Southern Babylon in antebellum times. Following the Civil War, a profound alteration in social and economic conditions gradually reshaped the city's sexual culture and erotic commerce. Historian Alecia Long traces sex in the Crescent City over fifty years, drawing from Louisiana Supreme Court case testimony to reveal intriguing tales of people both obscure and famous whose relationships and actions exemplify the era. Long introduces a black woman and white man whose thirty-year romance endured without benefit of legal or social sanction; an immigrant entrepreneur who became the wealthy impresario of lascivious concert saloons; a reform activist who supported quarantining prostitution, until city leaders established vice district boundaries in his backyard; a young prostitute who prospered as a Storyville madame while leading a double life as a respectable member of society; and mixed-race women who used their legendary allure as "octoroons" to make their fortunes. In weaving together these individual experiences, the author uncovers a connection between the geographical segregation of prostitution and the rising tide of racial segregation. She also offers a compelling explanation of how New Orleans's lucrative sex trade drew tourists from the Bible Belt and beyond even as a nationwide trend toward the commercialization of sex emerged. Alecia Long blows away the romanticized smoke and perfume surrounding Storyville to reveal in thereasons for its rise and fall a fascinating corner of southern history. The Great Southern Babylon illuminates a complex mosaic of race, gender, sexuality, social class, and commerce in turn-of-the-twentieth-century New Orleans.