If the Old West Outlaws get a lot of historic attention, a
close second are the gangsters of the 1920’s
Prohibition era and the
1930's Depression period. Feared and revered, these American gangsters
often controlled liquor sales,
gambling, and prostitution, while making popular, silk suits, diamond
rings, guns, booze and broads.
These many men, though often murderers and outright
robbers, were sometimes also involved in the political, social, and
economic conditions of the times. Infamous names of the era included
people such as
Al Capone, Vito Genovese, Dutch Schultz, Jack "Legs"
Diamond, Charles "Lucky" Luciano,
John Dillinger, and
Depression created yet another
type of outlaw, fed by both need and greed. Though not as "revered" as the
outlaws with names like Bonnie and Clyde,
"Baby Face" Nelson, Ma Barker, and "Pretty Boy" Floyd, also became
legends, as their deeds included some of the wildest and deadliest stories
ever to hit newspaper front pages.
Much like the days of the
Civil War, these were difficult times for the vast majority
of Americans and like the gunmen before them, the outlaws of the 1920s and
'30s gained fame among those who dreamed of individuality and fast money.
The "romance” of the lifestyle and resistance to the socially imposed
rules of the times led numerous men and a few women into a criminal life
that included bank robberies, illegal sales of alcohol, gambling,
prostitution, and black market drugs.
Bodies of gangsters
lying on a
Chicago garage floor following
the St. Valentine's Day