vintage, nostalgia and memories


March 29, 2017

17 Amazing Vintage Photographs Show the Brutal Lives of American Gangsters from the 1920s and 1930s

In the early 20th century, Chicago was one of the most crime-ridden places in America. After the passage of Prohibition, in 1920, powerful gangs of bootleggers, gangsters, and smugglers formed to profit from illegal alcohol trafficking. Al Capone, Bugs Moran, and John Dillinger and their gangs became household names that were equal parts criminals and celebrities.

From cold-blooded murders to running battles with the police, these black-and-white pictures shed light on the brutal lives of gun-toting gangsters during the American Depression. The amazing images show notorious mobsters such as Al Capone who committed violent crimes in their search to get rich quick during the early 1930s.

Police officers look over distilling equipment and guns confiscated during a Prohibition raid, Chicago, ca.1920s. (Photo by Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)

Edwin C. Arthur stands in the center of a collection of containers of moonshine taken during a South Side raid in Chicago, Illinois, 1922. From the Chicago Daily News collection. (Photo by Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)

Lieutenant William Shoemacher stands and aims a Thompson machine gun, or tommy gun, Chicago, 1926. The gun, developed for World War I, was very popular with gangsters due to its high rate of fire. From the Chicago Daily News collection. (Photo by Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)

Primed for warfare, Chicago gangsters forced police to equip themselves with miniature arsenals to cope with gang wars. Deputy Chief Stege (right) hands out machine guns to detectives while Chief of Detectives Shoemaker (fourth from left) looks on, January 09, 1927. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

The body of noted gang chief Frankie Yale, who was born Francesco Ioele, lies beside his automobile at 44th Street, after Yale was shot to death from a pursuing automobile on July 02, 1928. Yale's car crashed into a house and he was thrown out of the car. (Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images)

A young man posing as a masked gunman, circa 1930. (Photo by FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

American gangster Al Capone (“Scarface”) (1899 – 1947) relaxes in his vacation home, Miami, Florida, 1930. Capone smokes a cigar and wears a striped dressing gown and slippers. (Photo by New York Times/Getty Images)

This sawed-off shotgun was carried in a violin case to the Port Newark National Bank in Newark, NJ on February 28, 1930. Three gunmen – determined to seize $25,000 – staged a wild west gun battle at the entrance of the bank in the center of the city, at 10:45 A.M. Osie Danneman, black messenger for the bank, was the hero, saving $25,000. Photo shows the violin-cased sawed-off shotgun. (Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images)

Police and Fireman's Day display of a gangster's car riddled by Thompson machine guns for ten seconds on September 24, 1930. (Photo by Leroy Jakob/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

George (Bugsy) Moran, Chicago gangster, on trial at Waukegan, Illinois on December 11, 1930. Charged with vagrancy, he is being named one of Chicago's “Public Enemies”. Vehemently denied in court the charges, and declared himself a business man. His wife was with him in court and was twice in tears during the arguments. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

A group of men in suits and hats are obscured by the smoke from the guns, including Thompson submachine guns, shotguns, and revolvers, that they are firing in a shrubland, USA, 1930s. (Photo by Vintage Images/Getty Images)

Body of John (Aces) Mazza lies in front of 17 First Ave. after dying in a gangster's duel on February 21, 1931. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

War veterans, members of a civilian organization for the suppression of crime, leading gangsters to the police station following their arrest in the United States in 1932. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Full-length portrait of American criminal Bonnie Parker (1910 – 1934) smoking a cigar while leaning on the front fender of a car and holding a pistol on April 17, 1933. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

An armoured vehicle surrounded by Chicago cops at the time of the American depression, 1933. (Photo by Rolls Press/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

A car riddled with bullet holes belonging to New-York gangsters, in 1933. After a police chase, the criminals were arrested by policemen who had fired a hundred shots at their car. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Photo shows Inspector Frank S. Burke, Right, Chief of Detectives, explaining the new weapons to some of his men, left to right, Detectives O. S. Hunt, Thomas Nally, John Apostolides, Robert Barret, Joseph Shinon, Hoyle Secrest, George Darnell and Inspector Burke in Washington, DC on October 19, 1935. (Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)



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