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Gangs of New York

The Christmas Riot of 1806: Anti-Catholic violence mars the holiday

  According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, there have been 816 New York law enforcement officers who have died in the course of duty. Most of those who have died in the page six years succumbed to 9/11-related illnesses. The last firearm-related death, Paul Tuizzolo, sadly came just a last month, killed in a gunfight in the Bronx. […]

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Gangs of New York

PODCAST REWIND: Wrath of the Whyos, vicious gang of New York

The Whyos (pronounced Why-Ohs) were New York’s most notorious gang after the Civil War, organizing their criminal activities and terrorizing law abiding citizens of the Gilded Age. Find out when they lived, how they broke the law and who they were — from Googie Corcoran to Dandy Johnny, as well as two particularly notable guys […]

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Brooklyn History Gangs of New York

Screaming Phantoms, Tomahawks, Phantom Lords, Dirty Ones and other gangs of 1970s Williamsburg, Brooklyn

The Dirty Ones, a notorious gang from Williamsburg. My new column for A24 Films (a tie-in to the new movie A Most Violent Year) is up on their site devoted to culture and events from 1981. For this article, I look at what some of the dangerous undercurrents to life in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 1981. “By […]

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Gangs of New York

The 1867 St Patrick’s Day riot: No peace in the Lower East Side

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper reported on a ‘riot’ which occurred on Saint Patrick’s Day 1867 at the intersections of East Broadway, Grand and Pitt Streets, one block below Delancey Street and the Williamsburg Bridge (which was decades from being built by that date). The parade began on East Broadway, with regiments assembling here (“slush and snowdrifts […]

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Gangs of New York

Who were the Short Tails? The crazy, violent habits of the real Lower East Side gang

One of the few photos ever taken of any New York street gang was this image shot in 1887 by Jacob Riis of the Short Tails  under a pier in Corlears Hook.  The Short Tails were a particularly nasty gang of criminals who terrorized the Lower East Side and the docks of Corlears Hook roughly […]

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Gangs of New York

Tough Enough: Teen Criminal Mugshots from 100 Years Ago

Okay, maybe it’s just me that does this, but occasionally I love perusing the document archives of the New York Department of Records, a treasure trove of municipal maps and photography from the past. Buried amid the grisly crime photographs and disaster images are an interesting array of mugshots.  With little information attached, we can only try […]

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Gangs of New York

A very strange coincidence surrounds New York’s most famous gangsters and ‘Boardwalk Empire’ inspirations

Many of the early 20th century’s most renown gangsters were born in late January! Today is Al Capone‘s birthday. (He’s pictured above in his infamous mugshot.) It’s also the birthday of gambler/ Jewish mobster Arnold Rothstein.  Joe Masseria, early New York Mafia leader, was also born on this date — January 17, 1886. Enoch ‘Nucky’ Johnson — […]

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Gangs of New York

Execution in Five Points: Piracy, slave trade and the Tombs

Sometimes you can look back at history and think that nothing ever changes. And sometimes you find something that makes New York seem extraordinary unrecognizable, a city besieged by near barbaric crises. The image above depicts a scene from February 21, 1862, in the courtyard of the famous Tombs prison in the Five Points neighborhood. […]

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Gangs of New York

New Year’s Murder: Return of the Tong Wars 1912

“On New Year’s Day they presented any celebration in Chinatown with fireworks. There have been murders sometimes when the whole joyful populace of the crooked streets of Doyers, Mott and Pell have been patriotically celebrating with gunpowder an historic anniversary.” — New York Times, 1/16/1912 The streets of Chinatown were relatively quiet in 1911, a […]