Hells Kitchens Irish Mob



Hell’s Kitchen is a working class neighborhood on the west side of Midtown, Manhattan. At the turn of the century the area was largely an Irish and Germen enclave. Throughout the early years of the twentieth century, the most common activity for a young male was to be in some sort of gang. The most powerful of the early Hell’s Kitchen gangs was the Gophers, named so because they usually met in tenement basements. It was mostly made up of Irish toughs from the West Side. At their peak in 1907, there was believed to be around some 500 members. Their main specialties were burglarizing shops and pool halls, and raiding the docks and the Hudson River Rail Road. Occasionally they would rent themselves out as enforcers for various political candidates, but most of their time was spent fighting among themselves and other gangs in the area. There was no real boss of the Gophers, because they were so turbulent very few of their leaders held the distinction for more then a few months. By prohibition the Gophers gang was depleted, and what was left of the Gophers was resurrected by the infamous Owney “the killer” Madden.
Owney “the killer” Madden was born in Liverpool, England, of Irish Parentage, and moved to Hell’s Kitchen at a young age. Owney “the killer” Madden was the first his kind in Hell’s Kitchen, he dressed in expensive suits and was well known in New York’s high society. He controlled bootleg liquor, breweries, nightclubs, taxicabs, laundries, cloak and cigarette concessions. He also had a controlling interest in the very popular Cotton Club in Harlem and a piece of heavyweight boxing champion, Primo Carnera. Owney was force to share his bootlegging business with Dutch Schultz. In 1931 Madden was mad a representative of the Irish Mob in New York by Lucky Luciano. With such a lucrative base of income, it was only a matter of time before someone from Hell’s Kitchen would challenge his reign. Vincent “mad dog” Coll was the greatest threat to Madden. Born in County Kildare, Ireland, Coll was brought to New York at an early age and raised by his sister. After bouncing from one Catholic reform school to another, he went to work for Dutch Schultz. It wasn’t long before Coll started getting on Schultz ‘s bad side. Coll even demanded that Schultz cut him in as an equal partner. When Schultz refused, he start up his own gang, and started raiding Schultz’s bootlegging empire and did the same to Owney Madden. His downfall started on July 28, 1931, when Joey Rao, one of Schultz’s top men in Harlem, was standing outside the Helmar Social Club along with two bodyguards and a crowd of kids. A speeding car came by firing shots everywhere, and when it was over a five-year-old boy lay dead and four more wounded. Rao and his bodyguards escaped with out scratch. Everyone knew Coll was behind the shooting, and people on both sides of the law were calling for retribution. On February 8, 1932, Coll was talking on the phone with Owney Madden when a man walked in with a Machine gun and pumped Coll full of lead. Coll died in a pool of his own blood, Madden had set him up. A few months later Madden was imprisoned on a parole violation for 12 months. After his release he retired to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and run what amounted to be a resort town for mobsters on the lam.
After Madden retired Eddie McGrath took over the Hell’s Kitchen rackets. Eddie McGrath went up the ranks of the Irish Mob as a bootlegger under Madden. McGrath had ties to some very influential Politians and was involved in the unions. He had been appointed an ILA “organizer at large” by the union’s president, Joseph P. Ryan. His right hand men were his brother-in-law, John “Cockeye” Dunn and Andrew “Squint” Sheridan. He controlled the lucrative numbers game throughout the port of New York and he was on good terms with Meyer Lansky and Moe Dalitz. In 1956 McGrath started losing much of the profit on the docks, because of New York’s Crime commission hearings, and by 1959 airplanes carried two-thirds of all transatlantic passengers. The effect on Hell’s Kitchen was immediate,