A lot of people probably don’t realize it, but street gangs are as American as apple pie. In other words, they’ve been around for a loooooooong time. If you’ve ever seen Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, you know talking about.
The Dead Rabbits were prominently featured in that film (which is an awesome name) but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There were numerous 19th century gangs that had colorful names, and many of them operated in New York’s notorious Five Points neighborhood.
Here are 10 that roamed the streets many years ago.
1. Corcoran’s Roosters
This crew was known to rob cargo ships. Also known as the Charlton Street Gang.
2. Molasses Gang
These boys used to bet a shopkeeper he wouldn’t fill up a hat with molasses. When the poor fool did, they’d slap the hat on his head and take all his money.
3. Tub of Blood Bunch
This gang made the Tub of Blood bar their headquarters and they worked the East River waterfront.
4. Yakey Yakes
The leader was called him “Yake” (mistaken for “Jake”) by a German immigrant and the name stuck.
5. Plug Uglies
The Plug Uglies were active in New York City and Baltimore and played a prominent role in the 1863 Draft Riots in New York.
Made up of Irishmen from County Kerry.
7. Daybreak Boys
Possibly the coolest name ever for a gang. Like many other gangs of this time period, they worked the waterfront in New York.
8. Baxter Street Dudes
This gang of thieves consisted of teenagers who formerly worked as newsboys or shoe shiners. They also ran a theater where they performed. You could say they were multi-talented.
9. Crazy Butch Gang
A gang of teen pickpockets.
10. Boodle Gang
They were known to hijack wagons and raid food stores.