Posts Tagged ‘Jack Sirocco’

A shootout on St. Mark’s Place, 1914

April 24, 2009

Born in 1889 on the Lower East Side, Benjamin “Dopey Benny” Fein was an East Side labor racketeer and extortist. Fein was a powerful guy at the time, but he had a rival: mobster and fellow racketeer Jack Sirocco.

dopeybennyfeinmug

The Lower East Side/East Village area was Jewish gangster territory then. So it was a brazen move when Sirocco rented out 19-25 St. Mark’s Place—a community center called Arlington Hall—for a ball on January 9, 1914. 

Before the ball began, Fein assembled his boys behind doorways near Arlington Hall, planning to rub out Sirocco. Shots were fired, but the only person hit was a bystander and city clerk named Frederick Strauss. Strauss was killed, and Fein was questioned by police (but not charged).

arlingtonhall

After the Arlington Hall shootout, Sirocco’s power intensified while Fein’s grip slipped. He was arrested and sent to prison several times over the years and died in 1962.

That’s about the time when Arlington Hall (pictured above today, in its current incarnation as kind of a minimall) had its resurgence. In the mid-60s, it housed a couple of counterculture clubs: the lower level was The Dom, while the upper floors became the Electric Circus, a popular rock venue that lasted until 1971.