The Short Tails gang

The Short Tails gang by Jacob Riis. 1887

The Short Tails gang by Jacob Riis. 1887

The only known photo of the Short Tails gang that roamed the Lower East side of Manhattan in the 1880s-1890s. This picture was taken under a pier by the East River at Corlears Hook (a notoriously bad spot known for their brothels).

The Short Tails were drinkers, brawlers, and generally the worst kind of bad boys honest New Yorkers had the bad luck of running into. They were known to push loaded wagons into the river and turning around to ask the owner for a reward if they saved the contents.

They were also known to pirate boats. Then of course they’d spend all their ill-gotten dough at the local saloons like the upstanding citizens they were. They numbered around at least 50 or more, often partying in large groups on the streets late at night. Because of their ‘achievements’, their precinct had to employ twice as many cops.

They’re thought to have disbanded in the 1900s, members joining either the Five Points gang led by John Kelly west of the Bowery, or the Monk Eastman one east of it.

Here they’re seen drinking. Notice the mountain of discarded large tins (growlers) they used to carry beer.

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