Given the name because of their penchant for hiding in cellars, the Gophers formed in the 1890s and went on to rule the West Side between Ninth and Eleventh Avenues around 42nd Street through the 00’s and teens.
Their main target: the New York Central Rail Yards, which ran up the far West Side.
One Lung Curran, Happy Jack Mulraney (who always looked like he was smiling but supposedly had some kind of facial paralysis), Stumpy Malarkey, and Goo Goo Knox. Gang leaders back then had some colorful names.
They also had a female auxiliary gang, the Lady Gophers, headed by notorious tough chick Battle Annie—the “Queen of Hell’s Kitchen.” Reportedly she was “the most feared brick hurler of her time.”
UK-born Owney Madden, fourth from left in this 1910 gang photo, earned a rep as one of the most brutal Gopher leaders. Nicknamed The Killer, he’s responsible for numerous deaths of other gang members, especially from the rival Hudson Dusters.
After serving time in Sing Sing, he became a bootlegger and co-owner the Cotton Club, Harlem’s flashy club in the 1920s.
Tags: Battle Annie, Happy Jack Mulraney, Hell's Kitchen, Hudson Dusters, Ida the Goose, One Lung Curran, Owney Madden, Sing Sing, Street Gangs of New York 1900, Stumpy Malarkey, The Cotton Club, The Gophers