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Lucky Luciano, Herlands Report, Socks Lanza, South Street Seaport, Fulton Fish Market, Navy, Commander Charles Haffenden, WWII, Mafia, Mob, Paris Cafe

Project Underworld: The Incredible alliance between the Navy and the Mafia during the Second World War.

Location: Fulton Fish Market and the Meyer Hotel, 119 South Street

Status: Landmarked 

Closed lipped and insular, the longshoremen of the Fulton Fish Market proved impossible to infiltrate, but the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) knew there was no other option. By 1942, Nazi submarines pushed the Allies to the breaking point, sinking 650,000 tons of cargo a month. Observers spotted U-boat wolf packs roving up and down the cost of Long Island. Then on February 9, the troop transport Normandie spontaneously combusted on the West Side of Manhattan.

 

Nazi Spies in New York

To ONI, it was obvious. Nazi agents had infiltrated the Port of New York, and only the mob had the power to hunt them down. Here at the Fulton Fish Market, the United States Navy orchestrated one of the most unusual alliances of WWII that remained a secret until 1977, when author Rodney Campbell uncovered the classified Herland’s Investigative Report, a 101-page summary of the Navy’s involvement in Operation UNDERWORLD.

 

Lucky Luciano, Herlands Report, Socks Lanza, South Street Seaport, Fulton Fish Market, Navy, Commander Charles Haffenden, WWII, Mafia, Mob, Paris Cafe, Operation UNDERWORLD, Second World War

Tsar of the Fish Market

The task of penetrating the Fish Market fell to Commander Charles Radcliffe Haffenden, the swashbuckling leader of ONI’s investigative unit. With the help of the head of the New York Rackets Bureau, Murray Gurfien, Haffenden contacted the fishy tsar of the Fulton Fish Market, Joseph “Socks” Lanza, a hulking 250 lb mafia bulldozer in the Luciano Crime Family whose resume included arrests for burglary, extortion and homicide( https://infamousnewyork.com/2013/08/26/socks-lanza-the-seafood-king-strikes-again/ ).

 

Fulton Fishmarket Project Underworld Navy and the Mafia WWII

 

Up in The Old Hotel

From his headquarters in the Meyer Hotel above the infamous Longshoreman bar, the Paris Café, Socks’ clammy grip on the United Seafood Workers Union stretched from Florida to Maine.

The NY DA’s office arranged a secret meeting with Socks where Gurfein pleaded:

 

 “Many of our ships are being sunk along the Atlantic coast. We suspect German U-boats are being refueled and getting fresh supplies off our coast…You can find out how and where the submarines are being refueled.”

Socks jumped at the chance to aid the Navy, but the DA’s office wiretapped Lanza’s phones at the Meyer hotel to ensure his loyalty. Their bugs would record conversations detailing Navy inspired mayhem that included assaults, break-ins, and possible murders.

Socks Lanza, Operation Underworld, Meyer Hotel

Socks Lanza managed the mob’s end of Project UNDERWORLD from his office at the Meyer Hotel on South Street.

Agent Lanza

The next morning Lanza called his long time associate Benjamin Espy, a former bootlegger who served time in Lewisburg Penitentiary. Together Lanza and Espy demanded that ship suppliers report unusual purchases of fuel to them. Next, the two gangsters moved onto the fishing vessels and set up a network of fishermen to keep an eye out for submarines. The fish racket boss’ success startled Haffenden. Sensing the Mafia’s influential grip, the commander requested union books to place agents on long-range fishing vessels. Socks responded by providing his personal books used for no show payoff jobs, and Haffenden’s agents sailed aboard mackerel fleets bound for Maine, Florida and Newfoundland under the protective wing of the Mafia.

Socks Lanza, tsar of the Fulton Fish Market.

Socks Lanza, tsar of the Fulton Fish Market.

 

Branching Out

Commander Haffenden wanted more. He wanted access to the West Side piers controlled by the Irish Mob’s Joseph Ryan and his enforcer Johnny Cockeye Dunn, as well as the Brooklyn waterfront, controlled by Albert Anastasia. Joe Socks balked at the prospects of facing Anastasia’s explosive temper and legendary trigger finger. Furthermore, Lanza lacked the influence to cross the ethnic divide into Irish controlled Hell’s Kitchen.

According to Socks Lanza, there was only one man capable of:

 

“Snapping the whip in the entire underworld.”

That man was New York’s imprisoned emperor of vice, Lucky Luciano.

James Street Gang, Johnny Torrio, Al Capone, Frankie Yale

The territory of Johnny Torrio’s James Street Gang

Location: James Street

Before the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and Prohibition put him on the map, Al Capone received his bachelor’s degree in gangsternomics courtesy of Johnny “The Fox” Torrio, a future mafia chieftan who got his start as the leader of the James Street Gang.

A dormouse of a man with button eyes and a nose like a thimble, Torrio could only be described as one of the finest criminal mastermind’s of the 20th century, and it all started on James Street, a tiny sliver of a street that is one of the last remaining vestiges of the old Corlear’s Hook neighborhood.

Life in crime came early for Torrio. As a boy he worked in his stepfather’s illegal moonshine den at 86 James Street. In 1904, the urchin started promoting boxing matches, where he met the bantamweight fighter and gangland kingpin, Paul Kelly. Kelly, a suave racketeer whose real name was Paolo Antonini Vacarelli, captained the Five Points Gang, a mob that ran Little Italy and fixed elections for Tammany Hall.

Much of James Street was demolished during the 1940s.

Much of James Street was demolished during the 1940s.

Kelly took an immediate liking to Torrio, teaching the young gangster how to dress, speak, and steal. In return for his mentorship, Torrio founded a Five Points auxiliary called the James Street Boys to aid Kelly and the Yakey Yakes during the Eastman Wars.

From there “The Fox,” moved on the Irish controlled Brooklyn Navy Yard with the help Frankie Yale and a teenaged enforcer named Al Capone, whom Torrio introduced to the Manhattan underworld through his James Street connections. Torrio gave up his mini- New York empire when Chicago’s prostitution overlord, Big Jim Colosimo, requested Torrio’s aid to protect his Windy City whorehouses. “The Fox” left New York but always remembered his roots by importing James Streeter gunmen like Roxie Vanella (https://infamousnewyork.com/2013/09/27/the-mayor-of-james-street-robert-roxie-vanella/ ) and Frankie Yale to do his dirty work. Torrio called for Capone in 1921, and the pair went on to make gangland history.

Torrio

Johnny Torrio

Tong War Gangs of Chinatown Map Title

Tong Wars: Gangs of Chinatown Map Click to Enlarge in a New Window
Tong Wars:
Gangs of Chinatown Map
Click to Enlarge in a New Window

1.Hip Sing Headquarters

15 Pell Street

This non-descript building is the current headquarters of the over 100-year-old Hip Sing tong. Founded in San Francisco during the gold rush, the Hip Sings were brought to New York City by Laing Yue in the 1890s. Mock Duck (see 15) would eventually become their most infamous leader. The Hip Sings still control much of the vice in Chinatown through their association with gangs like the Flying Dragons.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Dragons

 

2. Chinese Theater Massacre

5-7 Doyers Street

On August 7, 1905, Hip Sing headman, Mock Duck, ordered several of his boo how doy, or hitmen to go on a rampage. Led by his top gunman Sing “The Scientific Killer” Dock, they entered the Chinese theater and opened fire using exploding firecrackers to cover their gunshots. 4 On Leongs were killed.

Click to read a more detailed story on the Chinese Theater Massacre. https://infamousnewyork.com/2013/09/01/the-chinese-theater-massacre/

 

3.  Chinatown Tunnels Entrance

5 Doyers Street

Back around the turn-of-the-century, Chinatown was infested with a warren of tunnels that were used for smuggling, gambling, and quick getaways from the cops. 5 Doyers Street is the last accessible vestige of this tunnel network known today as the Wing Fat Shopping arcade. Oh, and by the way, they don’t like guests.

 

4. First opium den in the city

13 Pell Street

Wah Kee, one of Chinatown’s first residents, set up shop here some time around 1868. On the ground floor he sold Chinese curios and exotic foods, but upstairs was where the real action was. Along with a fan-tan gambling parlor, Kee ran Chinatown’s first opium den, which was completely legal at the time.

 

5. Tong War Peace Treaty

7-9 Mott

Following the Chinese Theater Massacre (see 2), Chinatown was in lockdown. The bombings, shootings and hatchet murders had completely disrupted vice in the district, and Tammany Hall’s Big Tom Foley stepped in to end the bloodshed. With the help of General Sessions Judge Warren W. Foster, Foley brokered a peace, making Mott Street On Leong territory, Mott Street Hip Sing territory and Doyers Street neutral ground.

To celebrate the truce, the rival gangs headed to the swankest joint in all of turn-of-the-century Chinatown, The Port Arthur Restaurant, and proceeded to get hammered. Tom Lee (see 13) supposedly guzzled 107 mugs of rice wine at the shindig.

 

6. Nom Wah Tea Parlor

13 Doyers Street

In business since 1920, the Nom Wah Tea Parlor is the closest you’ll get to authentic early 20th century dim sum. The restaurant has nothing to do with crime or tongs, but if you’re touring the Bloody Angle (see 8) be sure to give the traditional eggrolls a try.

 

7. Mike Salter’s Saloon

12 Pell Street

One of Big Tom Foley’s chief election captains, Mike Salter ran a gang that included Jack Sirocco and Chick Tricker from this ragtime saloon named The Pelham Café. Irving Berlin worked here as a singing waiter, and under the threat of a beating, Salter forced him to write his first song, launching Berlin’s music-making career. Upstairs, Salter ran a multiple story opium den managed by Big Mike Abrams.

Click to read more about Mike Salter’s Pelham Café https://infamousnewyork.com/2013/08/12/mike-salters-pelham-cafe-birthplace-of-irving-berlin/

 

8. The Bloody Angle, Doyers Street

Sandwiched between Pell and Mott, Doyers Street has one of the most crooked histories in town. Neutral ground for the feuding On Leong and Hip Sing Tongs, Doyers has been the site of more than one full-scale kung-fu rumble, earning it the nickname, “The Bloody Angle.”

 

9. On Leong Headquarters

83-89 Mott Street

This awe-inspiring pagoda towering over Chinatown is the current headquarters of the hundred-year-old On Leong Tong. Led by Tom “The Mayor of Chinatown” Lee (see 13), the tong still presides over much of the vice in Chinatown today trough the use of gangs like the Ghost Shadows. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_Shadows

 

10. Bow Kum Murder

17 Mott

In 1882, the United States passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, a law deliberately designed to artificially limit the number of Chinese women in America. By 1890, less than 3.6 percent of all Chinese residents of America were female, a drastic sex imbalance that would lead to many Tong wars, such as the case of Bow Kum, a Chinese slave girl purchased at auction in San Francisco for $3,000 by Hip Sing member Low Hee Tong.

After Christian missionaries freed Bow Kum from slavery, she traveled to New York and married Tchin Len, a farmer who also happened to be a member of the On Leongs. When Low Hee caught up with his expensive ex-wife, he demanded her back, the On Leongs refused, and the tongs went to war. On August 15, 1909, a Hip Sing hatchetman slipped into Len’s apartment at 15 Mott Street and hacked Bow Kum to death, instantly kicking off one the bloodiest tong struggles.

 

11. 5th Precinct

19 Elizabeth Street

Opened in 1882, the 5th Precinct has policed Chinatown for more than 100 years, raiding opium dens, busting up fan-tan games, and bringing justice to the tongs. Designed by NYPD sergeant and architect Nathaniel Bush, the precinct contained 12 cells for women and 16 cells for men.

 

12. The Death of Funny Man Ah Hoon

10 Chatham Square

During the Bow Kum War, the Hip Sing Tong posted a public death threat against the On Leong comedian Ah Hoon. Apparently Hoon’s act of skewing the Hip Sings had pissed off the gangsters for the last time. On December 30, 1909, two patrolmen from the 5th precinct protected Hoon during his act at the Chinese Theater and escorted him though the Chinatown tunnels to his home.

The cops left him with a warning not to leave his room before they left him for the night, but a thirsty Hoon ignored their warning and opened his door for a glass of water. Hip Sing gunmen waiting in the shadows opened fire killing him instantly.

 

13. The Mayor of Chinatown’s Home, Tom Lee

18 Mott

People called him the Mayor of Chinatown and for good reason. Tom Lee was the headman of the On Leong Tong, controlling much of the gambling, prostitution, and opium in Chinatown. His power was so great that Tammany Hall politician Big Tom Foley made him a city sheriff. He lived here at 18 Mott Street for much of his life.

 

14. Wing Fat Mansion: Chinatown Tunnels

7 Chatham Square

Built in 1920, this condominium’s lobby is the exit to the Chinatown tunnels. They really, really, do not like visitors.

 

15. Mock Duck Strikes Again

23 Mott Street

One of the most vicious gunmen in Chinatown, Mock Duck was a gangster known for going about the streets armed with two revolvers, a hatchet, and a suit of chain-mail armor.  He was tried three times for murdering a tailor here, but he was never convicted.

 

16. The Big Flat

96-98 Mott Street and 9 Elizabeth Street

Demolished

The Big Flat started with the greatest of intentions. It was supposed to be a model for the future housing of the poor. Built as the first model tenement, the building was eventually devoured by the people it hoped to save, becoming one gigantic opium den. On December 8, 1884, detectives from the 5th Precinct raided the building. Fifteen people were arrested including Tom Lee’s (see 13) nephew.

If you think I’m missing a good map point that I can include, let me know!

Frank Costello, Majestic Apartments, 115 Central Park West

Frank Costello Lived Here at the Majestic Apartments.

Location: 115 Central Park West, The Majestic Apartments

Status: Landmarked 

 

He had a controlling interest in every slot machine from New York to New Orleans. He ran rum, bootlegged scotch, and controlled the appointments of Supreme Court judges and Tammany Hall politicians. He was a kingmaker, the puppeteer who made Manhattan dance, but more than anything else, Frank Costello wanted to be a legitimate businessman; and by the time the Great Depression hit, Uncle Frank, as his mob pals called him, was ready to buy his way into high society.

 

For his bid for legitimacy, he targeted the newly constructed 32 story Majestic Apartments, a twin towered, brick and steel framed art deco masterpiece. Located at 115 Central Park West across the street from the famous Dakota, nothing in the city was more modern and posh than the Majestic.

 

A Majestic View

 

For their home, Costello and his wife, Loretta Geigerman, selected apartment 18F, a nine room, two bedroom, two bathroom, corner apartment facing Central Park, which they rented for $3,900 a month (the apartment recently sold for $5,304,000).

 

The view from Frank Costello's apartment was majestic.

The view from Frank Costello’s apartment was majestic.

 

Because of the building’s unique cantilevered construction, there were no columns to block Costello’s view of the park and the breathtaking full morning sunlight that the mobster rarely tasted during his youth in the slums of East Harlem.

 

Frank Costello lived in apartment 18F in the Majestic Apartments. Vincent "Chin" Gigante attempted to assassinate him in the lobby in 1957.

Frank Costello lived in apartment 18F in the Majestic Apartments. Vincent “Chin” Gigante attempted to assassinate him in the lobby in 1957.

 

Nobody Loses in Frank Costello’s House

 

The couple hired James Mont, the mob’s top interior decorator, to deck the apartment out in mafia glitz. Mont hung a Howard Chandler Christy “Christy Girl” oil painting over the fireplace. Next, he placed a gold plated grand piano in the living room and ringed it with slot machines manufactured by Costello’s True Mint Novelty Company, a firm that reportedly earned the mob mogul $500,000 a day. But the one-armed bandits in Costello’s lavish pad had a unique twist: they were rigged for perpetual jackpots. Costello was known to say to guests such as publisher Generoso Pope Jr. and future New York Mayor Bill O’Dwyer,

 

 What do you think I am, a punk? Nobody loses in my house. 

 

Fred Astaire, Walter Winchell, and Milton Berle

 

Over the years, Costello would integrate himself in the parade of rich and famous neighbors like: the diamond merchant: Jacob Baumgold, shoe magnate: Andrew Geller, Fred Astaire, Milton Berle, Zero Mostel, and his arch rival—newspaper reporter Walter Winchell. Whenever he needed a cup of sugar, Costello could visit his pal Bugsy Siegal downstairs.

From this majestic incubator, Costello’s power would only grow. In 1936, Lucky Luciano was sentenced to 30 to 50 years for compulsory prostitution. A year later Vito Genovese fled to Italy fearing murder charges, leaving Frank Costello boss of the Luciano Crime Family.

 

King of New York

 

For the undisputed king of Manhattan nightlife, Costello was an early riser. Waking at 9:00 am every morning, his daily ritual included a trip to the Waldorf Astoria Barber Shop for a shine, shave, and a manicure followed by lunch at the Madison Hotel. On Thursdays he hit the baths in the subbasement of the Biltmore Hotel for “the works”, sauna, steam room and a massage.

 

Frank Costello Majestic Apartments

 

He saw a psychoanalyst once a week and became a major donor to the Salvation Army, turning over the Copacabana night club for their holiday fundraisers. Wire taps placed on Costello’s home phone by D.A. Frank Hogan recorded New York supreme Court Justice Thomas Aurelio pledging his undying loyalty to the mob boss.

 

The Kefauver Commission

Just as the former bootlegger was ready to climb into the seat of respectability, things began to unravel. In 1951 Senator Estes Kefauver’s travelling committee rolled into town and hauled Costello in front of television cameras, forcing Costello to answer several difficult questions such as if he kept $50,000 in a safe in his apartment. Costello replied,

 

I believe I had a little strongbox… I keep forty-fifty thousand.

 

Refusing to answer anymore questions, the Prime Minister of the Underworld stormed out and was slapped with contempt of court and a 14 month prison sentence. Soon the IRS was on his tail, and INS wanted to revoke his citizenship.

 

The Return of Vito Genovesse

When Costello returned from prison, he had even more problems. Vito Genovese had returned from Italy, gunning for Uncle Frank. On the evening of May 2nd, 1957, Genovese struck. As Costello walked into the Majestic’s zinc and marble lobby, Genovese’s chief bully-boy, Vincent “The Chin” Gigante, pulled a revolver and screamed:

 

This is for you Frank.

 

Just as Gigante fired a single round, Costello spun around, and because of some quirk of physics, geometry, and the hand of God almighty, the bullet grazed Costello’s scalp, riding around the rim of his borsalino hat. The attack left Costello shaken. He quickly sued for peace with Genovese, and retired from the rackets. Costello would live in the Majestic until his death in 1973

 

Majestic Apartments

Frank Costello on Racketeers

Frank Costello on Racketeers

When Herbert Asbury’s Gangs of New York last left readers with Thomas “Humpty” Jackson, the crooked hunchback gnome known for packing a revolver in his hat and a copy of Voltaire in his pocket, the gangster was composting in a prison cell upstate.

But what Asbury never told readers was that Humpy spent his three year stretch reading every book he could get his thieving paws on. Stevenson, Huxley, Darwin, Herbert Spencer, and Thomas Paine, Humpty devoured every volume in the Sing Sing library, and when he got out; the Hump decided to go straight.

Surrounding himself with books, pigeons, and toy poodles, Jackson eventually opened a pet shop on 125th Street where the mug dispensed a blend of streetwise philosophy and classical learning to anyone who would listen. Soon, he was being courted by Colliers magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and a dozen little rags from around the country that all came to sop up Humpty’s wisdom on subjects as diverse as: love, prohibition, capital punishment, and the secrets of life. These are his greatest hits:

Click for more posts on Humpty Jackson

Humpty Jackson on the Transformative Power of Reading

Humpty Jackson on the Transformative Power of Reading

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Updates

Sorry I haven’t posted any new stories in a while, everyone. On the day before New Year’s Eve, all of the people in my apartment building (including me) were served with papers to vacate the building in 30 days. The real estate developers (NYC’s new gangsters) are knocking down the building, and I am preparing to move on Friday. Once I get my computer out of a box, I hope to post some stories in the next week or two. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter or Facebook for links and external stories on the history of crime.

Without a whisper, a whimper or a groan, Thomas “Eat ‘Em Up Jack” McManus fell face down into his derby.

Without a whisper, a whimper or a groan, Thomas “Eat ‘Em Up Jack” McManus fell face down into his derby.

Location: NW Corner of Bleeker Street and Bowery

 

The blow came suddenly and silently. Without a whisper, a whimper or a groan, Thomas “Eat ‘Em Up Jack” McManus fell face down into his derby; his skull crushed like an egg. One hardest gorillas to ever drag his knuckles down the streets of New York, the legendary barroom bouncer could realistically hold claim to the title of: Toughest Man in New York. Now he was dead.

 

In his 1905 obituary, the New York Sun wrote,

For years back “Eat-‘Em-Up” has borne all but unchallenged the distinction of being about the toughest and most brutal of all the tough and brutal Bowery gangsters.

 

Toughest Man in New York

 

Born in Boston in 1862, McManus was seemingly destined for underworld stardom like his older brother, the infamous international safe cracker, Kid McManus. However, unlike his brother, Jack earned a living with his fists from the beginning, eventually following his knuckles to New York City as a champion lightweight prizefighter.

 

Unfortunately, the prize ring proved unsuitable for McManus’s constitution, and he quickly sunk into the employ of the underworld. Alfred Henry Lewis wrote in his 1912 book, the Apaches of New York,

 

…but a liking for mixed ale and a difficulty in getting to weight had long cured him [McManus] of that [boxing].

 

Eat Em Up Jack McManus, Kid McManus, Paul Kelly, McGurk’s Suicide Hall, Chick Tricker, Kid Griffo, Five Points Gang, Gangs of New York, Apaches of New York, Tivoli, Jack Sirocco

Eat Em Up Jack McManus was killed by Sardinia Frank on the north west Corner of Bleeker Street and Bowery.

 

Barroom Bouncing At McGurk’s Suicide Hall 

 

Without boxing, Jack reverted to the only skill he knew, fisticuffs. He became a sheriff or bouncer, bringing law and order to the toughest Bowery dives and saloons in the city like the Tivoli and McGurk’s Suicide Hall. Whirling in like a Tasmanian devil with blackjacks, fists and hobnailed boots, Jack earned the nickname Eat Em Up for eating and digesting all comers. In time, McManus’s body became a patchwork quilt of wounds and welts. His front teeth were knocked out.  A knife scar ran across his throat from ear to ear (back before one of his ears was chewed off).

That’s the way I serve ‘em.—Eat ‘Em Up Jack McManus, NY Sun 1903

 

Paul Kelly’s Five Points Gang

The mayhem artist caught the attention of Paul Kelly, and the mobster hired Eat ‘Em Up Jack as bouncer at Kelly’s Little Naples Café and New Brighton Hall, sowing the seeds of McManus’s death.

 

One night Chic Tricker, a member of the Jack Sirocco clique, drunkenly wandered into Kelly’s club and insulted the showgirls. McManus stepped in, throwing Tricker out on his ear. During the scuffle, a challenge was issued for gats on 3rd avenue. Later that night, Eat Em Up and Tricker traded pistol shots under the shadow of the 3rd Avenue “El.” Jack put two slugs in Tricker’s leg and walked away unscathed. But Tricker swore revenge.

 

The next day Kid Griffo and Eat ‘Em Up Walked down the Bowery. Just as they reached the corner of Bleeker Street, a burly hoodlum named Sardinia Frank stepped from the shadows clutching a gas pipe wrapped in newspaper, and as the New York Sun put it:

 

 …a section of lead pipe was wrapped around the base of the skull to his bulldog chin, cracking the cranium all the way.

McManus died in Belleview Hospital calling out for his beloved wife Gertrude. He was 40

years old. Eat ‘Em Up Jack McManus’s death would kick off a gangland war between Kelly and Jack Sirocco which would close the New Brighton, leaving Kelly scampering uptown for a more “respectable” life.

 

Eat Em Up Jack McManus, Kid McManus, Paul Kelly, McGurk’s Suicide Hall, Chick Tricker, Kid Griffo, Five Points Gang, Gangs of New York, Apaches of New York, Tivoli, Jack Sirocco

Paul Kelly (right) and Eat Em Up Jack McManus (left) at the New Brighton.

Special Prosecutor, Thomas E. Dewey, Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, Frank Hogan, Eunice Carter, Dutch Schultz, Arthur Flegenheimer, Lucky Luciano, Prostitution,

Location: 233 Broadway

Status: Landmarked 

 

On the night of July 30, 1935, the voice of special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey sailed out of Manhattan and poured out of tens of thousands of radios across the Five Boroughs. For a half hour, the Special Prosecutor sang an imperative plea, a call to arms for all New Yorkers to take back the city from the racketeers strangling it to death.

 

He explained that the foul stench of organized crime was suffocating New York, levying a “huge and unofficial sales tax” on everything from ice and coal to chicken and fish. He concluded his broadcast with an invitation for anyone who wanted help to visit him at his office.

 

 If you have evidence of organized crime,” he concluded, “bring it to us…The rest is our job. We will do our best.”

 

A Cathedral of Crime Fighting

 

Personally hired by Governor Lehman and championed by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, Dewey would wage a war against organized crime from a command post on the 14th floor of the Woolworth Building, transforming the Cathedral of Commerce into a cathedral of crime fighting.

 

Special Prosecutor, Thomas E. Dewey, Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, Frank Hogan, Eunice Carter, Dutch Schultz, Arthur Flegenheimer, Lucky Luciano, Prostitution, Governor Lehman, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia

Dewey’s Office was located on the 14th floor of the Woolworth Building where he would successfully prosecute Lucky Luciano.

 

Fort Dewey

 

Located far enough away from City Hall to thwart Tammany Hall spies, the 10,000 square foot fortress of an office had an untapable phone cable and tamper proof filing cabinets locked inside of a state-of-the-art, Holmes Alarm bank vault. Venetian blinds prevented telescope equipped gangsters from spying on informants, while plainclothes detectives patrolled the lobby 27/7.

 

Special Prosecutor, Thomas E. Dewey, Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, Frank Hogan, Eunice Carter, Dutch Schultz, Arthur Flegenheimer, Lucky Luciano, Prostitution, Governor Lehman, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia

Dewey’s Office was located on the 14th floor of the Woolworth Building where he would successfully prosecute Lucky Luciano.

 

The Man Who Had Never Tasted Pastrami

 

With his castle built, Dewey, a farm boy from Owosso, Michigan, who had never heard of pastrami, set about building a multi-ethnic crime fighting army. He brought in Eunice Carter, one of the first African American female attorneys in America, and the future Irish Catholic D.A., Frank Hogan. Half of Dewey’s team was Jewish, seven held Phi Beta Kappas, and fourteen graduated from Harvard or Columbia.

 

Special Prosecutor, Thomas E. Dewey, Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, Frank Hogan, Eunice Carter, Dutch Schultz, Arthur Flegenheimer, Lucky Luciano, Prostitution, Governor Lehman, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia

 

He staffed the office with twenty assistants, four process servers, ten investigators, four clerks, nineteen stenographers, a filing system wizard and sixty three NYPD officers hand picked by La Guardia’s police chief, Lewis Valentine. The underworld was screwed.

 

The office’s first target was Arthur Flegenheimer, a gangland heavy mostly known as Dutch Schultz. Soon, Dewey had his team shadowing Schultz, bugging his offices and phones, causing the gangster to take out a contract on Dewey’s life. Gangland intervened on behalf of the Special Prosecutor, and Schultz was gunned down in a Newark chophouse.

 

A Tsunami of Prostitutes

 

With the Dutchman dead, Dewey zeroed in on Lucky Luciano, New York’s overload of vice. After months of reconnaissance, Dewey’s team simultaneously raided 200 brothels around the city and herded hundreds of prostitutes up to the 14th floor of the Woolworth building to hear their stories, and boy did they sing.

 

Special Prosecutor, Thomas E. Dewey, Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, Frank Hogan, Eunice Carter, Dutch Schultz, Arthur Flegenheimer, Lucky Luciano, Prostitution, Governor Lehman, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia

Plainclothes detectives patrolled the Woolworth Building’s lobby 24/7 to ferret out gangster spies.

 

In the office’s crowning achievement, Lucky Luciano would be sentenced to 30 to 50 years for compulsory prostitution. Using the successes of his racket-busting prosecutions, Thomas E. Dewey would become Governor of New York and launch two unsuccessful presidential bids. But Dewey and Luciano weren’t done with each other by a long shot.

 

Special Prosecutor, Thomas E. Dewey, Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, Frank Hogan, Eunice Carter, Dutch Schultz, Arthur Flegenheimer, Lucky Luciano, Prostitution, Governor Lehman, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia

After a brilliant surprise raid on Lucky Luciano’s brothels, these elevator banks were used to shuttle hundreds of prostitutes up to the 14th floor.