About the Project

Welcome to "New York on Trial," a historical murder mystery blog. This website follows the trial of Ameer Ben Ali, an Algerian immigrant who was indicted for the murder of a prostitute named Carrie Brown. The details of the murder are sensational, but what is truly fascinating is what else the court proceedings revealed. It was not just Ben Ali who was on trial in the hot summer of 1891, but the city of New York itself. This blog will follow the developments of the case and the trial day-by-day. As the story unfolds before your eyes, hopefully this blog will inject you right into the heart of a gripping turn-of-the-century murder mystery that captured the imagination of a city, and shed light on its greatest hopes and fears. 

A reporter's sketch of Ameer Ben Ali in court

(The Sun

The Bend, a notorious slum near the East River Hotel (Museum of the City of New York)

An etching of a murder trial in the Court of General Sessions presided over by Recorder Frederick Smyth -- the same courtroom and judge for Ben Ali's trial

(New York Public Library)

Lower Manhattan's skyline in 1890

(New York Public Library)

Delancey Nicoll, the District Attorney who prosecuted Ben Ali 

(The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Thomas Byrnes, Chief Inspector of the New York City Police Department -- note the painting behind him depicting a police officer arresting a young black man

(Museum of the City of New York)

A sketch of Carrie Brown, made on the day her body was discovered 

(The Sun)

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Thank you and happy reading!