Those of us who have had the opportunity to visit nineteenth-century mansions that were originally constructed on slave plantations are rarely content with an aesthetic appraisal of these structures, no matter how beautiful they may be. Sufficient visual imagery of toiling black slaves circulate enough in our environment for us to imagine the brutality that hides just beneath the surface of these wondrous mansions. We have learned how to recognize the role of slave labor, as well as the racism it embodied. But black convict labor remains a hidden dimension of our history. It is extremely unsettling to think of modern, industrialized urban areas as having been originally produced under the racist labor conditions of penal servitude that are often described by historians as even worse than slavery.