10 Crimes That Shook New York
By Marquaysa Battle and Tamara Rahoumi
Beloved bright lights and skylines endear locals and tourists alike to New York, but the city’s allure is also sustained by the fact that it’s home to some of the most infamous moments in American history; some well-known, others, not so familiar. Check out our guide to just some of the moments that have gone down in the city’s history, and see just how and why each of these crimes, and the people involved, left a (grim) mark on New York.
1. The Assassination of Malcolm X
What: The civil rights leader, Malcolm X, was addressing the Organization of Afro-American Unity when he was shot and killed by members of the Nation of Islam.
Where: Audobon Business & Technology Center at 3940 Broadway at West 165th Street in Harlem (Formerly the Audobon Ballroom)
When: February 21, 1965
Did You Know: The New York Mardi Gras Festival is held here annually.
2. The Murder of Joseph Gallo
What: The Colombo crime family gangster, Joseph Gallo – or “Crazy Joey,” as he was more affectionately known – was gunned down by four men in front of his sister, wife, and daughter.
Where: Umberto’s Clam House at 132 Mulberry St. in Little Italy
When: April 7, 1972
Did You Know: The day he was killed was also his 43rd birthday.
3. The Groovy Murders
What: Hippie leader/drug dealer James “Groovy” Hutchinson and his girlfriend, runaway rich girl Linda Fitzpatrick, were found murdered in the boiler room of a tenement apartment after their heads had been bashed in with bricks.
Where: 169 Avenue B in the East Village, near Tompkins Square Park
When: October 8, 1967
Did You Know: One of the storylines in the season six premiere of Mad Men, The Doorway, is thought to have been inspired by the murders of Hutchinson and Fitzpatrick.
4. The Murder of John Lennon
What: The Beatles co-founder was shot and killed by 25-year-old Mark Chapman, who had been stalking the musician for some time, outside of Lennon’s apartment building.
Where: Dakota Apartment Building at 1 W 72nd St, New York, NY 10023 on the Upper West Side
When: December 8, 1980
Did You Know: Lennon had met and signed an autograph for Chapman about five hours before he was killed.
5. The Murder of Stanford White
What: Famous architect, Stanford White, was killed by Harry K. Thaw, the wealthy heir of a railroad company, after White had an affair with Thaw’s wife.
Where: Madison Square Garden at 4 Pennsylvania Plaza in Midtown
When: June 25, 1906
Did You Know: White suffered from a number of illnesses, including Bright’s disease and severe liver degeneration, and the coroner who performed White’s autopsy testified in court that, had the architect not been murdered, it wouldn’t have been long before he died from one of his illnesses.
6. The Murder of Nancy Spungen
What: Nancy Spungen, the girlfriend of “Sex Pistols” bassist, Sid Vicious, was found stabbed to death in the bathroom of the couple’s hotel room. Vicious was charged with his girlfriend’s murder, but the musician died of heroin overdose before his trial.
Where: Hotel Chelsea at 222 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011 in Chelsea
When: October 12, 1978
Did You Know: There are countless theories about Spungen’s murder that claim Vicious’s innocence and instead point the finger to culprits like drug dealers and robbers. One theory even implicates actor and comedian, Rockets Redglare.
7. The Murder of Mobster Albert Anastasia
What: The infamous Cosa Nostra mobster, Albert Anastasia, was shot dead by two gunmen at a barbershop in Manhattan.
Where: Park Central Hotel New York at 870 7th Ave in Midtown (Formerly the Park Sheraton Hotel)
When: October 25, 1957
Did You Know: Anastasia’s reputation as one of the most ruthless mob bosses around earned him nicknames like “The Mad Hatter” and “Lord High Executioner.”
8. The Murder of Mob Boss Paul Castellano
What: The head of the Gambino crime family, Paul Castellano, was getting out of his town car in front of a restaurant when he was gunned down by three gunmen – all reportedly dressed in tan trench coats and “Russian-style” hats.
Where: Sparks Steak House at 210 E 46th St, New York, NY 10017 in Midtown
When: December 16, 1985
Did You Know: Castellano was against his kids having anything to do with the mob, and set them up in the restaurant business, where he wanted them to earn an honest living. Their squeaky-clean records with the police (and their proclivity to pay their taxes on time, according to an article in the New York Times) suggest that the plan worked out pretty well.
9. The “Son of Sam” Killing Spree
What: Serial killer David Berkowitz, better known as the “Son of Sam,” terrorized New York City in the mid-1970s, killing six and wounding seven in the span of over a year.
Where: 42 Pine Street, Apt 7E in Yonkers (Formerly 35 Pine Street, dubbed “Satan’s Lair”)
When: 1970’s (David Berkowitz arrested and charged on August 10, 1977)
Did You Know: Berkowitz, whose killing spree stemmed from his belief that the act of murder would allow Satan to set him free, has been the focus of countless songs, album names, and even a band moniker. Check out our Spotify playlist for all the songs dedicated to the Son of Sam.
10. The Murder of Catherine Susan “Kitty” Genovese
What: Catherine “Kitty” Genovese, a 28-year-old bar manager, was stabbed to death outside of her apartment building by William Moseley in front of 38 witnesses, none of which called the police or intervened.
Where: Kew Gardens in Queens (Her apartment is located near Kew Gardens Station Long Island Rail Road parking lot, 82-70 Austin Street.)
When: March 13, 1964
Did You Know: Psychologists and sociologists coined the term “bystander effect” – also known as “Genovese syndrome” – following her death to explain the psychology behind people’s tendency not to aid a victim when there are others present.
Bonus Fact: A reference to the Kitty Genovese was made in an episode from Season 5 of Girls, titled “Hello Kitty.” Strangely, the day after the episode aired, William Moseley, Genovese’s killer, died in prison. He was 81.