Posts Tagged ‘Chinatown history’

The “bloody angle” of Chinatown’s Doyers Street

July 4, 2011

Doyers Street, a former footpath with a 90-degree bend, got its name from Henrik Doyer, an 18th century Dutch immigrant who ran a distillery there.

By 1900, Doyers Street (in a Library of Congress photo from that year) had gone from colonial booze to Chinatown gang murders.

It earned the nickname the “Bloody Angle” because of numerous shootings committed by local tongs that lasted into the Depression.

Take the colorful moniker with a grain of salt; the police may not have had any evidence it was as bloody as they claimed.

[bustling Doyers Street in an 1898 postcard]

“The police believe, and can prove it so far as such proof is possible, that more men have been murdered at the Bloody Angle than any other place of like area in the world,” wrote Herbert Asbury in Gangs of New York.

“It was, and is, and ideal place for ambush; the turn is very abrupt, and not even a slant-eyed Chinaman can see around a corner.”

“Armed with snickersnee and hatchet sharpened to a razor’s edge, the tong killer lay in wait for his victim, and having cut him down as he came around the bend, fled through the arcade, or plunged into the theater and thence into Mott or Pell Street through one of the underground passageways.”

Today Doyers Street is pretty quiet—and strangely the site of numerous hair salons.

[A quieter, emptier Doyers Street in 1928, from the New York Public Library Digital Collection]