57 and 59 Great Jones Street
There weren’t many places in old New York where a goon could order up a beer, eat a plate of spaghetti, and kick back and watch a bare-knuckle boxing match, except, for the Little Naples Café and New Brighton Athletic Club located at 57 and 59 Great Jones Street.
These two squat interconnected buildings once headquartered the Paul A. Kelly Association, an organized hoard of repeat voters, ex-pugilists, pimps, and gangland heavies otherwise known as The Five Points Gang. The mostly Irish and Italian Five Pointers controlled every hustle west of the Bowery and were the sworn enemies of Monk Eastman’s Jewish mob that dominated everything east of the Bowery.
Paul Kelly Gangland Dandy
Their leader, Paul Kelly, proprietor of the combination eatery and boxing arena, was a bucket-load of contradictions. The name he went by was Irish; yet the gangster was an Italian whose real name was Paolo Antonio Vaccarelli. Well
quaffed and well spoken, Kelly played the part of the gangland dandy who could bang with the best of them.
According to Richard Harding Davis, Kelly was,
“exquisitely scented, wearing silk socks, silk ties to his tan shoes, with rings on his well-kept fingers…”
But Kelly’s manicured digits didn’t fool anyone in the know. A former flyweight boxer and catch-as-can wrestler of much renown, the leader of the Five Points Gang was always willing to throw down. Like the time Kelly floored Jake Shimsky, a 6 foot, 230 pound Eastman Lieutenant, with a left hook that put the giant’s brain to sleep.
Spoke Five Languages
To have said that Kelley was smart would have been an understatement. In addition to English, he spoke Spanish, French and Italian. To take advantage of a loophole, which legalized boxing matches in privately chartered athletic clubs, he opened the New Brighton Athletic Club in 1904 in a Civil War era stable located at 59 Great Jones.
A Gangland Nexus Is Born
The New Brighton Athletic Club and Little Naples Cafe
Now free to hold bare-knuckle bouts without police interference, the customers flooded in. To feed his hardboiled clientele, Kelly opened up the Little Naples Cafe next door, and a gangland nexus was born. On any night, a hoodlum could find Chick Tricker, Louie the Lump, Kid Griffo, Rough House Hogan, 14th Street Biff Ellison, and the wrestler Leo Pardillo lounging around the bar.
Eat ‘Em Up Jack McManus
To keep the peace, Kelly brought in his best gorilla, the famed bar-room bouncer, Eat ‘Em Up Jack McManus, but even McManus couldn’t keep the peace, and the gunplay was regular.
In less than a year, Kelly’s bare fisted spaghetti kingdom began to unravel. Led by Chick Tricker, Jimmy Kelly, Jack Sirocco, and Biff Ellison, the mutinous troop of Five Pointers loaded up their gats and plotted to knockoff the boss.
Five Points Lightning
The slugs started to fly just before dawn on May 26, 1905 when words between McManus and Tricker escalated into a full blown pistol duel in font of the Little Naples.
Dodging and weaving from stoop to stoop, McManus blasted a few slugs into Tricker’s calf and left him for dead in the gutter, but Eat ‘Em Up Jack Should have finished the job. Days later Kelly lost his greatest strong armer, when McManus was killed by a Tricker Assassin armed with a lead pipe.
Jack Sirocco and Chick Tricker’s Revenge
Months later Jack Sirocco came looking for revenge for Tricker’s shooting, and earned a bullet in his arm. With their leadership full of lead, the Tricker Sirocco gang sent another team of torpedoes to the Little Naples the following Thursday.
With barking pistols in their hands, Biff Ellison and Razor Riley stormed into the Little Naples spewing bullets. The attackers caught Kelly and his bodyguard Bill Harrington completely by surprise. A shot pierced Harrington’s lung killing him instantly. Another shot knocked Kelly’s hat from his head, and bullet sliced through the sleeve of his coat.
As the shots rang out, showgirls dove for cover, and the lights were doused. For five minuets Kelly and his attackers traded gunfire in the darkened bar. The Little Naples and New Brighton Athletic club were closed by the police shortly thereafter. With his clubhouse padlocked, Kelly changed his name back to Vacarelli, moved uptown, and remade himself as a labor racketeer.