"Gangsters, killers and weirdos of the Lower East Side," by Eric Ferrara – Book Review
“Gangsters, Murderers and Weirdos of the Lower East Side” by Eric Ferrara is a great tour of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, beginning with the chapter “Worth Street to Canal Street” and ending with “East Houston to 14th Street” . “
Ferrrera takes you on a block-by-block tour of the Lower East Side, with the exact addresses of where some truly horrible things happened to some mostly despicable people. It begins in the time period when the first street gang in New York City, a group of head-splitting Irishmen cleverly called Dead Rabbits, controlled the slum streets of the Five Points Area just before the Civil War. . The Five Points area was populated by people so poor and dirty that the city had to enter frequently to disinfect the streets and buildings with harsh chemicals.
We also meet such surly people as the Chinese leader of Tong Mock Duck, who terrorized Chinatown at the turn of the century. Then there are the unforgettable three Morrelo brothers, Joe, Nick and Antonio, who together with relatives Ciro Terranova and Ignazio Saietta (Lupo the Wolf), started the Black Hand Society, which extorted punishment from their fellow Sicilians, under threat of death. that they imposed frequently.
If corrupt politicians are your favorite thugs, Fatty Walsh and Big Tim Sullivan, along with the indomitable Boss Tweed are also featured here, with the exact locations where they perpetrated their evil deeds, all in the name of the law.
Superstar gang leaders Charles “Lucky” Luciano, and his friend Meyer “The Little Man” Lansky are also Lower East Side guys, along with Lansky’s muscle, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. Lansky and Luciano first met when they were students at the school, when Luciano’s scandal at the time was extorting pennies from skinny Jewish children at a Lower East Side school, in exchange for him not beating them into pulp. One day Luciano messed with Lansky, and Lansky fought tooth and nail, beginning a lifelong friendship, also steeped in violence.
The bottom line is that “Gangsters, Murderers and Weirdos of the Lower East Side” is a quick read with the who, what, when, where and how of the murders and carnage on the Lower East Side, from before the Civil War, until the end of the 20th century. This book is not for the faint of heart, but if you want to take a look at the underbelly of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, you can’t do better than read this interesting, but sometimes alarming book.