Posts Tagged ‘Jimmy Corcoran’

The criminal “roosts” of 19th century Manhattan

October 2, 2010

Where Tudor City is now, overlooking the bluffs of the East River, was once a squalid, lawless neighborhood called Dutch Hill.

That was the home base for Corcoran’s Roost—the headquarters of a fierce gang of thieves led in the mid-1800s by Irish immigrant and notorious thug Jimmy Corcoran.

That wasn’t the only roost in 19th century New York. Another was Bandit’s Roost, a grubby alley at 591/2 Mulberry Street.

Journalist and social reformer Jacob Riis took this photo of a group of men hanging out in Bandit’s Roost. They’re a menacing-looking lot.

Bandit’s Roost must have been bad. Responding to a 1911 article about a notorious Paris slum, a New York Times letter writer states, “The nearest approach in this city to that foul quarter in Paris was the Bandit’s Roost, near the Five Points, and that was wiped out nearly 20 years ago.”