Book Review

Gangland: New York The Places and Faces of Mob History

What to read before a trip to New York

Title: Gangland: New York, The Places and Faces of Mob History
Author: Anthony M. DeStefano
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015

Reviewed by Brenda HengelGangland NY book cover

I recently returned from a trip to New York City. Before the trip began, I picked up this book to read for the long flight. It’s a gem. Not only does it provide a very readable backstory of how the Mob began in New York and then spread into other cities in the United States, but it’s a great little travel guide on former Mob spots around the Big Apple.

The introduction to Gangland: New York includes maps of the five boroughs indicating important Mob hang-outs, locations of murders, burial sites and more. We were staying in Brooklyn and visiting Manhattan. Just walking around our hotel in Brooklyn, we stumbled on the Green-Wood Cemetery where Albert Anastasia and other mobsters are buried and the former location of Adonis Social and Athletic Club where Richard Lonergan was killed by Al Capone.

I made a special trip to the Five Points area in Manhattan after reading this book. Five Points, a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, was the worst slum in New York in the mid-1850s. This area, a place novelist Charles Dickens described as “reeking of dirt and filth,” produced some pretty tough characters, including women such as Hell-Cat Maggie, a ferocious fighter who filed her teeth to points and would leap into a fight shrieking a battle cry.

The neighborhood also birthed the first New York gangs. The Five Points area served as the center of a loose federation of gambling halls, corrupt politicians and gangsters until the end of the 19th century when the Italian Mafia begin to come into its own. The area now is home to parks, federal buildings and courthouses.

I’m keeping this book handy for my next trip to New York when I plan to visit more locations of infamous Mob history.


Don’t miss The Mob Museum’s Author Talk Wednesday, May 11, when DeStefano will discuss “The Mob Geography of New York City: What Really Happened and Where It Happened.” RSVP today

Brenda is the PR & Marketing Manager for The Mob Museum

This review is part of The Mob Museum’s Pop Culture & The Mob Newsletter