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Hells Kitchen is a working class neighborhood on the west side of Midtown Manhattan At the turn of the century the area was largely an Irish and Germen enclave Throughout the early years of the twentieth century the most common activity for a young male was to be in some sort of gang The most powerful of the early Hells Kitchen gangs was the Gophers named so because they usually met in tenement basements It was mostly made up of Irish toughs from the West Side At their peak in 1907 there was believed to be around some 500 members Their main specialties were burglarizing shops and pool halls and raiding the docks and the Hudson River Rail Road Occasionally they would rent themselves out as enforcers for various political candidates but most of their time was spent fighting among themselves and other gangs in the area There was no real boss of the Gophers because they were so turbulent very few of their leaders held the distinction for more then a few months By prohibition the Gophers gang was depleted and what was left of the Gophers was resurrected by the infamous Owney the killer Madden Owney the killer Madden was born in Liverpool England of Irish Parentage and moved to Hells Kitchen at a young age Owney the killer Madden was the first his kind in Hells Kitchen he dressed in expensive suits and was well known in New Yorks high society He controlled bootleg liquor breweries nightclubs taxicabs laundries cloak and cigarette concessions He also had a controlling interest in the very popular Cotton Club in Harlem and a piece of heavyweight boxing champion Primo Carnera Owney was force to share his bootlegging business with Dutch Schultz In 1931 Madden was mad a representative of the Irish Mob in New York by Lucky Luciano With such a lucrative base of income it was only a matter of time before someone from Hells
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