Al Capone One of the World Greatest Gangsters In Carl Sanburg’s poem, “Chicago,” the poet alludes to the criminal element of the city in the line “I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again” (Sanburg, 9/10). This might be a reference to the gangster times of the 1920s. In the 1920s the gangsters were ruthless, and did awful things to people and they did not care about who you were. Chicago was one of the worst places in America for gangster activity. In that period Al Capone emerged from nothing and grew to be one of the most famous people in history. Capone started running his gangster empire at a young age and grew it to be one of the largest, meanest, multi-million dollar empires this world has ever seen.
On January 17, 1899 in Brooklyn, New York, Alphonse Gabriel Capone was born to Theresa and Gabriel Capone. His father, Gabriele Capone, was a barber who had lived in Naples, Italy and had decided to escape the rural life for the promise of work in the new world. Stockdale said, “He (Gabriel) was one of the 43,000 Italians who arrived in the U.S. in 1894.” When he decided to move, he had the dream of opening a barber shop and living the “American dream.” When they arrived in Brooklyn, the Capones moved into an Italo-American neighborhood. There drugs and violence, as well as gangs, were prominent. It was there that Al Capone was born along with eight other siblings. Theresa, his mother, realized what a terrible neighborhood they lived in and did not want it to influence her children. Therefore she insisted that her children hold a job while attending school. His criminal activities begin early. Although Al was extremely smart when it came to his school work, he began to get in trouble at the age of fourteen. After he beat up on of his teachers, he decided not to go back to school and instead work for the rest of his life. For a while he worked at small jobs in a candy shop, and with his father at the barber shop. At this time, he also joined the gang called Five Points. He knew how to operate a gun and knife in a fight and be successful with them. Soon he became the leader of a small junior gang which was later combined with Five Points. By the time Capone was 16 years old he had been introduced not only to drugs, prostitution, and gambling, but also to a rising criminal element. In 1918, Al Capone was married and had a son with his new wife, Mae Coughlin. Early in the marriage, their only child, a son, was born with congenital syphilis1. Then, out of respect for his recently deceased father, he got out of the gang life for a short period of time. When he resumed gang life, he reestablished his relationship with John Torrio, who was a notorious gangster in New York.
Capone is able to build a criminal empire. Torrio was most famous for his hotel Four Deuces which was a place for making and selling alcohol during the prohibition. Four Deuces had four floors; the first floor was a café area, the second and third floors were Mr. Torrios’ office, and the fourth floor was somewhere no one wanted to go. When Torrio decided to move to Chicago, Capone packed up his wife and child and decided it would be best if they went with them.
As soon as Capone and Torrio arrived, they began a new empire in Chicago after the prohibition law was passed. When Capone and Torrio arrived to Chicago they devised a plan to solve this problem. The plan was to split the state into separate gang areas. North, South, East, and west and within these areas there would be one gang. When this plan was enforced it dropped the crime rate in Chicago. In the book, Get Capone, Jonathon Eig says, “Nobody really liked Probation, and certainly in Chicago, plenty of people were still drinking” (122). Torrio and Capone helped make this possible with their alcohol operations. Capone actually became Torrio’s assistant and manger. In order not to get caught, Capone thought it would be a good idea to purchase the entire city