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Posts Tagged ‘Giuseppe Masseria’

Location: 1500 Broadway

Status: Demolished

 

They called themselves the Broadway mob. Members of the gang rubbed shoulders with high society, supplying the most exclusive speakeasies in New York with top-shelf, uncut booze. From their offices at the now demolished Hotel Claridge, located at 1500 Broadway, Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Segal and Frank Costello would go from street gang to the masters of dry New York, making themselves multi-millionaires in the process.

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Located in the heart of Times Square, on the east corner of 44th and Broadway, the Claridge Hotel was built in 1910 and according to the 1917 Real United States and Canada Pocket Guide,

 

“ Claridge’s Hotel, formerly Rector’s…was the great theatrical and bohemian after-theater restaurant…”

 

By 1922, Orwell Maximillian Zipkes purchased the hotel, adding a two-story arcade with shops and offices that Lansky, Luciano, Segal and Costello would use to build their empire.

 

Like a league of extraordinary criminals, the gang’s success came from the Broadway Mob’s remarkably diverse hoodlum resumes. Costello was the talker, forging the alliances with Tammany Hall that allowed the mob to steal at will and carry concealed weapons, legally.

 

The psychopathic Bugsy Segal provided the muscle, killing and beating anyone who stood in their way. The bookworm, Lansky, existed as a behind the scenes strategist and human adding machine, making the gangsters wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. Its leader, the oldest member of the gang, was Lucky Luciano, a gangland heavy who oozed reptilian charm.

 

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In the 1920s, the Hotel Clairidge served as Lucky Luciano’s headquarters.

Lansky’s Law

Guided by Luciano’s charisma and Lansky’s financial acumen, the gang became rumrunners. They heisted furs and stuck-up banks to fund liquor shipments of the purist scotch in town, purchased from the Brain of Broadway, Arnold Rothstein.

 

The small time gangsters’ moxie captured A.R.’s attention, and an internship in crime ensued.

 

Meeting With The Mentor

Rothstein mentored the gang from his booth at Lindy’s, teaching them how to dress, how to speak and how to conduct themselves in high society. According to the Last Testament of Lucky Luciano, Luciano recalled:

 

He [Rothestein] taught me how to dress…how to use knives and forks…about holdin’ a door open for a girl, or helpin’ her sit down…”

 

In exchange for the mentoring, Lansky, Luciano and Costello served as Rothstein’s muscle, protecting his alcohol and narcotics shipments.

 

Purist Booze in Town

They travelled abroad as Rothstein’s purchasing agents, buying direct from distilleries in Scotland, keeping the Stork Club, The Silver Slipper, The 21 Club and the rest of Broadway’s high-end speakeasies swimming in hooch.

 

Pet Gangsters

By the height of prohibition, Pet gangsters were all the rage, and Luciano, Costello, Lansky and Siegel were the coolest mob in town. Suave, wealthy and deadly, they dated Ziegfeld Girls and slept with heiresses, earning them a privileged spot as the darlings of New York high society.

 

Luciano recalled:

 “Within a year, we was buyin’ influence all over Manhattan, from lower Broadway all the way up to Harlem.”

 

Mafia Talent Scouts

But the Broadway Mob had other, less reputable, admirers. A secret criminal society mostly unheard of in America, known as the Mafia, had their eyes on Luciano, the only Sicilian member of the gang.

 

Both the Masseria Crime Family and the Maranzano Crime Family knew that whomever controlled Luciano, controlled the Broadway Mob and their fat bankrolls and political connections. Masseria would eventually win Luciano’s loyalty. He was then upgraded to a floor of suites in the Hotel Pennsylvania, but for the rest of his life in American; however, Luciano maintained an unofficial office at the Hotel Claridge. The hotel was demolished in 1972.

 

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Joe the Boss Masseria, Giuseppe Masseria, Joe Masseria Umberto Valenti, Lucky Luciano, Charley Luciano, John’s of 12th Street, Salvatore D’Aquila, Toto D’Aquila, 302 East 12th Street , Vito Genovese

Joe Masseria’s Revenge

Location: 302 East 12th Street 

Status: Standing

 

Smarting over the recent attempt on his life, which had left two bullet holes through his hat and another two holes through his coat, Joe Masseria plotted bloody revenge in epic Italian Renaissance fashion.

 

Toto D’Aquila’s Chief Assassin

 

The target of his wrath was Umberto Valenti, a seriously wily character who had blasted those bullet holes through Masseria’s hat and coat. According to the New York Times in 1915, Valenti was:

…alleged to have arranged more shootings than any other man in the city…

 

oe the Boss Masseria, Giuseppe Masseria, Joe Masseria Umberto Valenti, Lucky Luciano, Charley Luciano, John’s of 12th Street, Salvatore D’Aquila, Toto D’Aquila, 302 East 12th Street , Vito Genovese

In the guise of peace treaty, Joe Masseria lured Umberto Valenti to John’s of 12th Street for his last meal.

 

A former Black Hand extortionist, it was rumored that Valenti had killed over 20 men, a number of whom had been Masseria’s closest advisors. The thirty four year old Valenti was the chief assassin of Salvatore “Toto” D’Aquila, the New York Mafia’s supreme ruler, a Mafioso who was locked in vicious mob war with Masseria and his chief strategist Giuseppe “the Clutch Hand” Morello.

 

However, Masseria’s seemingly supernatural bullet dodging powers had given the hard noised, but superstitious, Valenti second thoughts. Second thoughts that had him suing for peace and walking into an ambush in one of New York’s most storied Italian restaurants, John’s of 12th Street, on August 11, 1922, a restaurant that has been used as a set on Boardwalk Empire and the Sopranos.

 

Joe the Boss Masseria, Giuseppe Masseria, Joe Masseria Umberto Valenti, Lucky Luciano, Charley Luciano, John’s of 12th Street, Salvatore D’Aquila, Toto D’Aquila, 302 East 12th Street , Vito Genovese

1.Umberto Valenti emerges from John’s of 12th Street. Lucky Luciano and another assassin open fire. 2. Valenti draws a revolver and is hit in the chest with a bullet. He staggers to a waiting taxicab and dies. 3. The gunmen shoot two innocent bystanders before disappearing into a tenement.

 

Well Dressed Gunmen: Vito Genovese and Lucky Luciano

 

Whether or not Valenti sampled the chicken parmigiana before being croaked has been lost to the winds of history. However, some time around noon, Valenti and six laughing companions emerged from their luncheon. Walking eastward, smiles turned into frowns. Suddenly, Valenti spooked and bolted towards Second Avenue as two slick, well-dressed gunmen whipped out revolvers and fired. Gangland legend holds that one of the shooters was none other than Charley “Lucky” Luciano, Masseria’s newest protégé (the other shooter was probably Vito Genovese).

 

The candle in John's of 12th Street was lit to celebrate the end of prohibition.

The candle in John’s of 12th Street was lit to celebrate the end of prohibition.

Pandemonium on 12th Street

 

As the shots flew, pandemonium broke loose on 12th Street. Whirling around, the feared assassin drew a revolver just as a bullet flew through his chest.

 

A teenage witness told the New York Times:

It was the coolest thing I ever saw. People were shrieking and running in all directions, and this fellow calmly fired shot after shot. He did not move until he had emptied his weapon. With blood spurting from his clothing, Valenti tried to raise up his pistol but his wounds prevented him from doing so. He made for a waiting taxicab, collapsing on the Northwest corner of 12th Street. (Click to read the original NY Times story)

 

Luciano’s Escape

 

Despite Valenti’s death, the friendly Luciano and his pals weren’t done yet. A crowd formed to block the gunmen’s escape so the mobsters opened fire, hitting a street sweeper and a little girl visiting from New Haven Connecticut. The shots dispersed the crowd, and the hitmen disappeared into a nearby tenement.

 

Should I Bring Pajamas? 

 

Masseria was arrested for the murder.  During his arrest, he supposedly grinned and asked the police:

… whether he would need a nightshirt remarking, that the last time he slept in the station house they forgot to give him a pillow or pajamas.

 

For a job well done, Joe Masseria elevated Luciano to a leadership position at his headquarters in the Hotel Pennsylvania. All murder charges were eventually dropped, and Masseria, on his way to becoming Joe the Boss, set his sights on Valenti’s overlord, Toto De Aquila, New York’s boss of bosses.

 

However, John’s of 12th had another infamous last meal lined up twenty years later. The victim would be Carlo Tresca.

 

Joe the Boss Masseria, Giuseppe Masseria, Joe Masseria Umberto Valenti, Lucky Luciano, Charley Luciano, John’s of 12th Street

Whether or not Umberto Valenti sampled the chicken parmigiana before being croaked has been lost to the winds of history.

 

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Joe The Boss Masseria 82 Second Ave.

Here at 82 Second Ave, bullets started to fly at Joe Masseria, blowing this plate glass window to smithereens.

Location: 82 and 80 Second Avenue. 

Status: Standing

Rodded up and nervous as hell, the four chain-smoking mafia gunmen seated in a blue sedan on Second Avenue checked and re-checked their oiled .45 caliber Colt automatics while waiting for their mark, a portly gangster who would one day appear on Boardwalk Empire and be known as the Joe the Boss.

Part revenge and part business, the hit, they hoped, would end a mafia war that had paralyzed a stretch of pavement known as the Curbside Exchange, an open air liquor swap meet that had made Joe Masseria filthy stinking rich.

So rich in fact, that the New York Mafia’s current ruingleader, Salvatore “Toto” D’Aquila, wanted Masseria dead. To achieve his aims, D’Aquilia dispatched his chief assassin, Umberto “the Gin Millionaire” Valenti, to put Masseria on the spot on August 9, 1922.

 

A Barrage of Lead

 

Valenti’s four assassins waited diligently outside of Masseria’s apartment at 80 Second Avenue. At sometime around 2:00PM, Masseria exited his home with a smile on his face and a straw boater cocked on his head, unaware that two shooters had leaped out of a blue sedan with drawn .45 automatics.

Joe The Boss Masseria's Apartment at 80 Second AVe.

The cops later found Joe the Boss Masseria sitting in his apartment, here at 82 Second Avenue, dazed and deafened, with two bullets drilled through his straw hat and a slug blasted through his coat.

Just as Masseria noticed the gunmen, the slugs started flying. The fat gangster sprinted for cover in a shop at 82 Second Avenue but the hail of zipping bullets and shattering glass sent him racing home, but unfortunately for him, the gunmen had him at point blank range.

 

Masseria Dives for Cover

They fired, and the chubby gangster dodged to the left, a bullet creased his coat. The hoods fired again, and Masseria ducked, letting the bullet pass through his hat. Ducking and diving and jukeing and jumping, bullets whizzed past the Mafiosi.

An eye witness described the scene to the New York Times:

Just as he fired the man jumped to one side…Then the man fired again and this time the man being shot at ducked his head forward. Again the man fired and again his target ducked his head down. The third shot made a second hole in my window.

Joe The Boss Masseria Map

1) After completely botching the assassination on the bullet dodging Joe the Boss Masseria, the gunmen jumped into a waiting blue Hudson cruiser and roared off.
2) The getaway car plows though a pack of striking workers before escaping.

 

High Speed Pursuit

 

Completely botching the entire operation, the failed hitmen jumped onto the running boards of their blue Hudson Cruiser and roared down West 5th Street were they ran into even more trouble.

A meeting of striking workers had just ended, spilling a throng of angry socialists into the streets. Pissed off and tired of gangsters, factory owners and capitalist bastards in general, the striking workers erected a human blockade to stop the fleeing Hudson, but D’Aquilia’s gorillas were unfazed.

They attempted to plow their way through the human blockade; and when that failed, they opened fire, pumping bullets indiscriminately into the crowd, hitting six men and a pony.

According to The New York Call newspaper:

The Machine, after rushing through the panic stricken crowd…[was] pursued by 15 taxicabs, trucks, and private automobiles that had been commandeered by the police…

The chase went as far as 32nd Street where the police lost the gunmen, but the nearsighted shooters would eventually get theirs.

Joe the Boss Masseria in his later years.

Joe the Boss Masseria in his later years.

The Man Who Dodged Bullets: Joe The Boss Masseria

 

Joe Masseria emerged from the failed rubout deafened and hatless, but his bullet dodging antics would make him an underworld legend. A week latter he would catch up with his would-be assassin, Umberto Valenti, and finish what The Gin Millionaire had started.  Click to read the story: https://infamousnewyork.com/2013/11/23/joe-masserias-revenge-johns-of-12th-street-a-great-place-for-a-last-meal/

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