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Social Clubs, Casinos, and Crime Scenes: The East Village’s Mob Roots

265 East 10th StreetVanessa Yurkevich The former of home of “Lucky” Luciano at 265 East 10th Street.

Before there were squats, there were social clubs. And before pricey restaurants began taking over East Village storefronts, many were gathering places for the mob.

Every Friday and Saturday night Gideon Levy, the founder of NYC Gangster Tours, gives a tour of these onetime crime scenes, clandestine casinos and fronts for drug smuggling operations.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Mr. Levy’s obsession with mob history started in 2003 when the film “Gangs of New York” inspired him to organize his tours, one of which winds through the East Village.

“Walking through neighborhoods that are familiar, that you might walk by every single day, you might not know about a thread that leads back to smuggling or a murder,” said Mr. Levy during a recent tour. Read more…

Dan Rattiner on EVO, the Mafia, and the Takeover That Wasn’t

Screen shot 2012-02-11 at 2.35.17 AMLeft to right: Steven Kohn, (on floor:) Heather, R. Crumb, Ray Schultz, (sitting behind:) Hetty Maclise, John Heys, Coca Crystal, Allen Katzman, David Walley, Little Arthur, (standing:) Joel Fabrikant, Jaakov Kohn

The end of my real involvement with The East Village Other came as something I perceived as a betrayal. I have come to think I really didn’t understand it at the time and perhaps what happened wasn’t directed at me personally. But sometimes I wonder.

I mentioned in my earlier piece that EVO was formed as a stock company, with Walter Bowart, Allen Katzman and I each owning three shares.

“We need to raise more money,” Walter said to me in the spring of 1966. “We’ve run out.  I’ve called a meeting and there will be new people coming. We need to get more people buying stock.”

“It won’t dilute my one third, will it?” I asked.

“It doesn’t have to,” he said, “if you buy some more, too.” And this was technically true.

The meeting took place in our office on Avenue A on a Tuesday evening at 8 p.m. John Wilcock was there, a prized defector to The Other from the Village Voice, our designated competitor. I loved that idea. There were four new people in the room, none of whom was familiar to me, except for John.

“Okay, we’re here to buy stock,” Walter said. “Who’d like to go first?”   Read more…