How the Honeymoon Gang terrorized 29th Street

In 1853, few city street gangs were as brutal as the Honeymoon Gang.

“Every evening the gang would place their men at each corner of Madison Avenue and 29th Street and attack every well-dressed citizen who came along,” writes Carl Sifakis in The Encyclopedia of American Crime.

“At midnight the Honeymooners’ ‘basher patrol’ would adjourn to a drinking establishment to spend a portion of the night’s ill-gotten gains.”

[Madison Cottage, right, in an 1852 sketch. It stood at Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street, near where the Honeymooners were bashing New Yorkers.]

These lowlifes were so violent, even Tammany politicians, who aided other gangs in the crime-riddled 1800s, refused to protect them.

Their downfall was New York police captain George W. Walling, who organized the first Strong Arm Squad—tough cops who basically beat gang members senseless.

After two weeks of vicious beatings, the Honeymooners disbanded.

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5 Responses to “How the Honeymoon Gang terrorized 29th Street”

  1. Lisa Says:

    That neighborhood’s still the stomping ground of an unsavory urban predator– isn’t it now the district of rug merchants?

    If you could spend a week in the New York of 150 years ago, or the New York of 150 years from now, which would you choose? Why?

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    I’d chose the New York of 150 years ago. The mayor then wasn’t trying to control your personal salt and soda consumption.

  3. petey Says:

    150 years ago, though in the spring or fall, i couldn’t take a week in summer without a.c. nor in the winter if it had slush (the cold itself is o.k.). the lure of seeing 23rd and 5th as pictured above (and, even more, my own yorkville) is too great.

  4. Lisa Says:

    Everyone I pose this question to –would you rather travel back to the past, or forward to the future?– answers, “back to the past”.

    I think I’d agree, even though it’s not the rational choice. After all, if one wants to examine the past, they need only do a bit of research. A glimpse of the future should be considered an irresistible treat, theoretically.

    I think I’d choose the past because if I opted for the future, I’d feel like a primitive idiot who comprehends little. (However, during my week’s stay in 1860, I’d be a know-it-all extraordinaire!)

  5. Stopping at the Buckhorn Tavern on 22nd Street | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] another popular roadhouse, Madison Cottage (above), was just a few blocks away at Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street—by 1850 a much more populated […]

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