The junction of Osborne Street and Whitechapel Road.

The ‘barbarous murder’ of Emma Smith on Osborn Street was not attributed to Jack the Ripper, but it did lead to the police opening their file on the Whitechapel Murders. That was a file that by the end of the year came to include the crimes we now know as the Jack the Ripper murders.  


What happened on Osborn Street in relation to the Jack the Ripper crimes?

In the early hours of 4 April 1888, prostitute Emma Smith was walking along Whitechapel Road when she noticed she was being followed by a local gang.

Having walked along Osborn Street, she was viciously attacked by the gang at its junction with Wentworth Street and Brick Lane and was subjected to a savage assault. After robbing her, the gang then hurried off and left her to die on the street.

However, Emma Smith managed to survive the initial attack and staggered back to her nearby lodging house on George Street. Here her fellow lodgers were alarmed by the state she was in and rushed her to the nearby London Hospital. Unfortunately, the injuries she sustained were so severe that she was not able to survive, although before she died she was lucid enough to explain to the doctor exactly what had happened to her.

Although this attack does not match the pattern of the Ripper murders, the police opened a new file which made the attack on Emma Smith the first official Whitechapel Murder. Over the next few months, a number of attacks took place around the area where Emma Smith was attacked, making this an epicentre for the Ripper crimes.

Where is Osborn Street?

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The junction of Osborn Street, Wentworth Street and Brick Lane, just north of Whitechapel Road in the borough Of Tower Hamlets, is where Emma Smith was attacked by a local gang. In fact, it was while she was walking along Whitechapel Road that she first noticed she was being followed.

The closest tube station to Osborn Street is Aldgate East, which is just a short walk away. Aldgate tube station is also very close. Local attractions include the Whitechapel Art Gallery, Brick Lane Market and Fotografiska London, which is the city’s largest permanent dedicated photography gallery with up to seven exhibitions at any one time.

What is Osborn Street in the present day?

Osborn Street is still a short road leading from Whitechapel Road to the crossroads with Brick Lane, Wentworth Street and Old Montague Street.

How has Osborn Street changed since 1888?

Osborn Street was originally a narrow continuation of Brick Lane that went by the name of ‘Dirty Lane’, before it became paved and widened in 1778. It was named after the Osborn family, who were prominent landowners in the area.

Much of the street was destroyed during the Second World War, which is why most of the buildings are from post-1945. Osborn Street is now home to Brick Lane Recording Studios as well as the City Hotel.