On an otherwise calm September 16th in 1903, only a day and a half before the massive “Vagabond” hurricane devastated portions of the city, rival members of two notorious Lower East Side gangs squared off under the elevated platform of the Second Avenue train line. The lengthy and bloody gunfight that ensued was possibly the largest of its kind in American History.
In dispute was a narrow strip of real estate considered to be old New York’s premiere red light district – the Bowery. The largely Jewish “Eastmans,” named for their brutish, pockmarked leader, Edward “Monk” Eastman, held the territory south of 14th street and east of the Bowery. Paul Kelly, a charismatic former pugilist, ran the predominantly Italian “Five Points Gang” under the guise of a political club called the Paul Kelly Association. Five Points territory covered much of lower Manhattan west of the Bowery.