February 22, 2016

The Manhattan 'Brotherhood Republic' – Pictures of a Teenage Street Gang in New York City in 1955

In 1989, Hugo Kugiya reported on the “Manhattan Brotherhood Republic'” for the News/Sun-Sentinel.
Every afternoon at 4. That’s all that mattered to a 14-year-old Sol Kasson. “I was there everyday. That was my life,” he said. 
Kasson and his buddies would run straight from school to their club. The place, on Manhattan’s lower East Side, was called the Boys Brotherhood Republic. 

They were so anxious, sometimes they arrived early and would have to wait outside the doors until Harry Slonaker opened up. He would sit upstairs by the window until 4 p.m. sharp, when he’d let in these boys — who now say they otherwise might have stolen, vandalized or cheated for a good time had it not been for the club. 
It was just so cold that day. Kasson couldn’t wait. 
“Aw c’mon, Harry, why don’t you let us go in a little earlier?” 
To get some attention Kasson picked up a rock and threw it at a window. He didn`t mean to, but he shattered the glass. Out came Slonaker. 
“You know,” Slonaker said to Kasson, “you’re a poison around here.” 
That`s how it started. Poison. They still call him that. His friends from the Boys Brotherhood Republic who are still very much a part of 70-year-old Sol Kasson’s life. 
“Before they started this club we used to steal and get into all kinds of trouble,” said Sol Gelber, 77… “The kids of the east side were very poor. We didn’t have anything and we couldn`t feel any hope. The club really changed our lives. It’s like our motto, ‘when there are boys in trouble we too are in trouble’.”

A teenage street gang carry out a mugging in a deserted alley in New York City.

A teenage street gang brag about their exploits to a potential new recruit in New York City.

A gang of teenagers hang out on the street of New York City.

A teenage street gang under a bridge in New York City.

A teenage street gang notice a potential recruit as they walk by a New York tenement building.

Two members of a teenage New York street gang threaten another member who wants to leave.

Two members of a teenage street gang chat outside a New York cinema showing 'Not Of This Earth'.

A teenage street gang hanging out in their local candy store in New York City.

An ex-member of a teenage gang is welcomed into his local settlement house, the Boys Brotherhood Republic in New York City.

A teenage street gang ‘hanging out’ on a street corner in New York City.

A teenage street gang in New York City check their weapons, including zip guns and knives.

Two members of a teenage street gang are taken into the 9th Precinct police station after their arrest in New York City.

((Photos by Carl Purcell/Three Lions/Getty Images, via Flashbak)


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