Sunday, October 1, 2023

October 2023 issue of Informer

 October 2023 issue contents - Introduction


The gangster breeding ground

Journalists Craig Thompson and Allen Raymond in 1940 wrote that “...the lower East Side of Manhattan in the first twenty years of the twentieth century was the greatest breeding ground for gunmen and racketeers, since risen to eminence, that this country has ever seen...” (Gang Rule in New York)

Conditions in the pre-Prohibition twentieth century Lower East Side certainly fueled an explosion in gangs and racketeering. Such underworld giants as Meyer Lansky, Louis “Lepke” Buchalter and Salvatore “Charlie Luciano” Lucania were products of that overcrowded and hard environment. But that was just a small part of the area’s exciting and often bloody underworld history...


In this issue, Informer presents a collection of articles representing the seedy and bloody gangland history of the Lower East Side. Material spans many decades of Manhattan’s history. Here's what we have inside:

    • Not long after the end of the Civil War, the area became home to a network of professional thieves and thugs, known as the Whyos. Probably more of a loose association than a gang, the Irish-American outlaws picked pockets, rolled drunks and attacked police officers. See "End of the Whyos."

    • A single historic photograph has preserved the squalor and peril of Lower East Side tenement neighborhoods. Take a closer look at "Bandits' Roost."

    • Few in New York's history acquired worse reputations than John McGurk, proprietor of a dance-hall/saloon that became known as Suicide Hall. See "John H. McGurk and Bowery's 'Suicide Hall.'

    • Towering over the pre-Prohibition Manhattan underworld was Edward “Monk” Eastman. The gangland legend managed to win the esteem of his home city through wartime heroism, only to be murdered outside a speakeasy. See "The death and life of hoodlum/hero Eastman."

    • An 1890s Italian-American racketeer residing on the Lower East Side may have been the first boss of the Mafia in New York, possibly the leader of the Mafia in the entire U.S. See "NYC's first Mafia boss?"

    • When an Italian-American gang leader adopts an Irish name, confusion is a likely result. We try to set the record straight on "Paul Kelly" Vaccarelli. See "Italian gang chief with an Irish name."

    • Sai Wing Mock, faction leader during bloody “Tong Wars” in Manhattan's Chinatown, was thought dead at least a couple of times before he actually passed away. See "Sai Wing Mock and the New York 'Tong Wars.'"

    • Before becoming a California Mafia boss, Frank Lanza got wealthy in Manhattan businesses. See "Perspective: Lanza's NY firms may have been Mafia fronts."

    • Gang leader “Johnny Spanish” Mistretta and his family appear to have embraced a false backstory, causing problems for historians. See "Mafia genealogy: In search of 'Johnny Spanish.'

    • A rich future in racketeering was molded in Meyer Lansky's childhood on the Lower East Side. See "Racketeering future was molded in young Lansky's neighborhood."

    • Enough blood was spilled on Second Avenue during a fourteen-year period to warrant renaming the road, “Death Avenue.” See "'Death Avenue,' 1910-1924."

    • A 1960s government report on narcotics law violators provided biographical and criminal information of just over two dozen racketeers from the Lower East Side. See "1964 narcotics report included mobster bios."

Eleven sidebar articles deal with these subjects: Gambling; Eastman's killer Jeremiah W. Bohan; Mafia HQ on Mott Street; The Pelham and Irving Berlin; Sirocco and Tricker; Torrio and Vanella; Bellantonis of Broome Street; "Mutty," "Lucy" and "Kitty"; "Dutch" Goldberg; "Gurrah," "Lepke," "Curly" and "Bugsy"; "Red" Levine.

A few other items in this issue do not directly relate to the underworld history of the Lower East Side: 

    • Interesting background information has come to light on two attendees of the 1928 Mafia convention in Cleveland. See "Mob history: New facts about two 1928 conventioneers."

    • Eight recently released and soon-to-be-released books are announced. See "Books."

    • Perhaps the most famous of Lower East Side gang bosses (made famous by Hollywood) wasn't really one at all. See "Just one more thing: 'Butcher' wasn't from the Five Points."


This issue is available in seven formats. Use the table below to determine the appropriate format for you. Clicking a seller logo will take you to the related preview/purchase website.
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1943-7803
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174 pg incl covers
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1944-8139
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9798859895656
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370 pages
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