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.
The ‘Swamp Jax’ gang of four. Snapshot. Private Collection.
These bad boys all swagger posing on the side of a road behind a car, with their guns prominently displayed, one just tucked into the pants. Don’t know if running into them was a good thing…Prohibition or not, bet they drank good. There was a brand of beer here in Dixieland called Jax. Bootleggers? :)
‘Dock Rats’ 1910s RPPC. Private Collection. Click for larger image.
Three best street lookin’ pals hanging out by the docks, one smoking a cigarette. Oh, those idle hands must be up to no good!
RPPC: AZO 1907-1914
1/9th plate tintype. Private Collection.
This one made me laugh out loud. Can you picture this tough looking fella doing shady business at the local saloon, or fighting at illegal gambling halls? This solid looking gent looks like he knew where to get ale on a pretty regular basis too, and with the baggy-eyed side glance with cigar in mouth and bowler on top? Mr, you’re a character!
Yes, he looks like he had no trouble making his voice heard!
“Careful there, pal!”
This time I’ll have the RPPC after the cut.
1927 Mugshot. Private Collection.
This Frenchman got caught for ‘larceny by truck’ in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He was a salesman who -if I understand this right- tried to flee by truck without giving back the change on a transaction? If so I hope it was an amount significant enough to risk the trouble of getting caught. And they took his mugshot with his hat still on!
Back of mugshot
Thomas E. Marsh
Crime: Larceny by truck (short change)
Age: 28 Height: 5 ft. 6 3/4 in. Weight: 133 lbs
Hair: Light Brown Eyes: Light Blue Build: Slender
Complexion: Light. Mustache: — (don’t you love it that ‘mustache’ is an actual option?)
Born: France Nationality: French Occupation: Salesman
Arrested: 1-13-27 Officer: […] Davis
Candid circa 1920. Private Collection.
Teen boys posing as robbers over the wall with real guns. The element of surprise is in their favor!