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Saturday, August 18, 2007

History of Hell's Kitchen

A sentimental trip through NYC's Hell's Kitchen from today's New York Times:

The Hell’s Kitchen Gang, whom Herbert Asbury called “a collection of the most desperate ruffians in the city” in his 1927 book “The Gangs of New York” (inspiration for the Martin Scorsese film), fought constantly with the police and with rivals like the Gorillas, the Parlor Mob, and the Gophers. Members had names like Stumpy Malarkey, Goo Goo Knox, Happy Jack Mulraney, and One Lung Curran, who, when his girlfriend complained of the cold, walked out to the street, “blackjacked the first policeman he encountered,” according to Asbury, and stole his coat.

Two generations of Irish gangsters, nicknamed the Westies by the police and the press, operated in the neighborhood into the late 1980s. Murder, theft, arson, extortion, gambling, loan-sharking, liquor, drugs, nightclubs — the Westies did it all.
...(M)acabre stories about the 596 Club still float around Hell’s Kitchen. Old-timers remember jars behind the bar that held the severed fingers of guys who had crossed the Westies. There’s the one about gangsters rolling a severed head down the bar.

“I’ve heard a lot of that kind of stuff,” T. J. English, author of “The Westies,” said in a recent interview. “Normally you’d dismiss it as absurd, but since it was the Westies, who knows? That place was certainly the proverbial bucket of blood.”


I wish I had friends named Stumpy Malarkey. Goo Goo Knox, and One Lung Curran.....