7. Ravenite Social Club was once used as a criminal headquarters
While on the outside it appeared to be a simple espresso bar, the former Ravenite Social Club was at the center of Little Italy’s Mafia operations. The club began operating in 1926 as the Alto Knights Social Club — named after an old street gang during Prohibition. Shortly after, the club went on to become a hangout spot for Lucky Luciano, who was instrumental in the development of the National Crime Syndicate.
The club’s name would later be changed to “The Ravenite” by Carlo Gambino in 1957 as an ode to his favorite poem by Edgar Allen Poe, “The Raven.” Gambino’s influence on the club would be short-lived as he quickly stopped frequenting it after learning it had become the subject of surveillance for the NYPD. Ownership would transfer to Aniello Delacroce, another mobster and underboss in the Gambino family. During the late 1970s and 1980s, the club was primarily used as the headquarters for the Gambino family.
Everything changed around 1990, when the FBI started infiltrating the Italian mafia by using secret electronic surveillance installed in John Gotti’s apartment above the club. Recordings from meetings in the apartment became critical in arresting Gotti in 1992, who would die 12 years later of throat cancer while in prison. After being arrested, Federal Marshals seized the club and sold it. Today, the club’s former location is a shoe store.