Mar 12, 2009 3:52 PM | 0
Brooklyn is like that uncle that no one in the family discusses. Everyone loves him, but he has a checkered past. Sure, Brooklyn has seen dips in its crime rate and formerly uninhabitable areas are now trendy. But, the borough will always have a reputation.
Maybe it started with the Brooklyn Bridge. In 1883, bridge traffic began moving, and so did the scam artists. The most famous was George C. Parker, who “sold” the bridge twice a week for years. Pretending to be the owner, he convinced people to take the bridge off his hands and set up a tollbooth for profit. Police often had to interrupt the efforts of these “new owners” who tried to construct booths.
Then the mafia came to town. In 1901, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that the police were finally taking action to thwart the crimes of the mafia in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Italian mafia members, attracted to America’s wealth, had flocked to the boroughs to see if the organization could profit. Police estimated that 75 percent of murders committed by Italians in greater New York were instigated by the mafia.
If true crime is your thing, library resources are a steal. Check out our online archive of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1841-1902) to research the mafia, or any other topic. Or search Brooklyn Collection’s historical photo database for a firsthand look at crime fighting (try using the keyword "crime"). And this Sunday at 1:30 PM, don’t miss our True Crime series at Central Library’s Dweck Center. Tim McLoughlin, editor of the anthology Brooklyn Noir 3, and contributing authors read stories of true crime from around Brooklyn.