Posts Tagged ‘thieves exchange’

Where thieves met up at Broadway and Houston

June 18, 2010

Today, it’s prime Manhattan real estate, a location hosting trendy boutiques and upscale retailers.

But in the late 19th century, this heavily trafficked intersection was one center of the city’s criminal underworld, where late at night fences got their hands on all kinds of stolen goods.

Not surprisingly, police and politicians were paid off to look the other way.

Herbert Asbury’s Gangs of New York puts it like this:

“One of the notorious places of the city was the Thieves’ exchange in the 8th Ward, near Broadway and Houston St, where fences and criminals met each night and dickered openly over their beer and whiskey for jewelry and other loot.

“Annual retainers were paid to criminal lawyers and politicians and police received stated fees, and occasionally commission on gross business.”