New York City Gang History
The discussion of the history and legacy of gangs and crews in New York City: all five boroughs; and their impact and spread into neighboring areas of Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut.
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Van Cortlandt Park
1959 | Bronx, NY
In 1959, a huge rumble (gang fight) took place in Van Cortlandt Park. Over 500
youth were involved, and police had to break it up with squad cars and from
The summer of 1959
1959 | New York, NY
The summer of 1959 was memorable, because so many
rumbles took place that summer. All the NYC newspapers
were filled with accounts of the various incidents.
12 CHAPLAINS ARRESTED IN QUEENS PREPARING FOR RUMBLE
31 August 1959 | St.Albans Queens
NEW YORK TIMES, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 1959
"12 ARRESTED IN QUEENS PREPARING FOR RUMBLE"
Twelve youths, aged 15 to 20 years old were arrested last night as
they were preparing for a gang fight in St.Albans Queens.
Detectives from the Jamaican Precinct and the Youth Squad seized the
youths at Public School 36, Foch Boulevard and 187th Avenue. Kitchen
knives, broomsticks, automobile radio aerials and dog chains were
found in the area, detectives said.
The youths who were charged with disorderly conduct, are members of a
Jamaican gang call the Chaplains. They were preparing for a rumble
with a Hollis, Queens gang called the Bishops, it was said. Both
gangs are composed of Negroes, detectives said. The police were
seeking members of the Bishops last night.
Just as an FYI, P.S. 36 is St. Albans School and is at 187-01 Foch
son of former Dodger catcher Roy Campanella
February 1959 | Flushing, Queens
THE HERALD PRESS, FEBRUARY 24, 1959
> The 15-year-old son of former Dodger catcher Roy Campanella and 17
> other youths were arrested yesterday after a gang fight.
> David Campanella was charged with juvenile delinquency.
> Police say he was the leader of a gang called "The Chaplains" who
> challenged another gang to a fight over "rights" to hang around a
> bowling alley in Flushing, Queens.
> Police said the gangs arranged to meet yesterday, with three from each
> side to fight to settle the issue. No weapons were involved.
> Police spotted a crowd of about 30 boys in a vacant lot, and
> investigated. The six who were fighting, including Campanella, were
> taken in along with 12 others.
> Campanella and three others who were under 16, were charged with
> juvenile delinquency. The older boys were charged with disorderly
> conduct. No one was injured in the fight.
> Police said "The Chaplains" gang was made up largely of Negro and
> Spanish-speaking youths. Campanella is Negro. The other boys
> involved in the fight were white.
> Luckily the New York Times was able to fill in some holes and offered
> information not given in the Herald Press article.
> According to the NYT (Feb.24, 1959), the "fight was broken up Youth
> Squad detectives about 2 p.m. in a vacant lot at 163rd Street and
> Northern Boulevard in Flushing."
> The NYT article didn't name the Negro and Puerto Rican youths but did
> name the "white" gang as the "Champions." The bowling alley was the
> "Mapleways," at 163-10 Northern Boulevard.
Police break up gang rumble in the making in Astoria
November 1955 | Astoria, Queens
Police break up gang rumble in the making on a Saturday night in
Astoria. The battle lines between opposing armies had already
formed. Five leather jacket clad Astoria gangs almost mix it up with
bayonets, brass knuckles, and garrison belts before officers swoop
down on them.
One group gathered at PS 171 at 30th Ave and 14th Street, the other
at the Astoria Houses at 27th Ave. Patrol cars screamed into both
areas at 8 PM. On the west side of Astoria, members came from the
Bucks, the Gents and the Garrisons gangs. From the east side, are
the Saracen Lords and the Nobles. Most were dressed in the 'uniform
of the day,' black leather jackets dungarees and boots.
Three 16 year old youths are arrested as ringleaders. Over 38 fuzzy-
faced kids nabbed and are booked for unlawful assembly.
Newspapers, June 2, 1954
1 June 1954 | NYC
"Teen-Agers Fire From Car At Gang Rivals, Kill One," New York Herald
Tribune, June 2, 1954, pp. 1, ?
The New York Times for June 2, 1954, and trying to obtain a
> copy of the New York Herald Tribune (and other papers) for the same
> Three main stories:
> (1) The Harlem Redwings did a "drive-by" on the Fordham Baldies, on
> Belmont Avenue, near East 189th Street. A 25 year-old hanger-
> on/associate of the Baldies was killed--shot to the head, and two
> Baldies wounded.
> (2) Police busted up a rumble between two (South) Bronx gangs. They
> had zip-guns.
> (3) Police busted up a potential rumble and arrested some Gowanus
> Dukes, as they were waiting for the "Chaplins" (Chaplains) to arrive.
Police Seize 20 Youths; 30 Flee Patrol Cars
7 June , 1955 | Woodside,Queens,NYC
Long Island Star-Journal: Twenty youth were seized and 11 of them were charged with disorderly conduct last night as police broke up a teenage"gathering" that had all the earmarks of a gang "rumble" in the making. The 11 were all Woodsiders.
According to residents in in the vicinity of 69th Street and Woodside avenue, about 50 youth had collected at the intersection at 8:15 P.M. when fists flew and an alarmed parent telephoned police.
Arresting officers said they recognized several members of rival Woodside-Elmhurst teenage gangs in the crowd when they arrived at the street corner.
The gangs, police said, are known as the "Whippets" and the "Barons."