Encyclopedia ofChicago
MAPS : MAPS CREATED BY ENCYCLOPEDIA STAFF
MAPS : MAPS CREATED BY ENCYCLOPEDIA STAFF
O
Organized Crime in 1920s Chicago

 

 

 

Organized Crime in 1920s Chicago

The long-standing reformist theme of shadowy conspirators seeking "control" of the city and suburbs captured public attention in Chicago and beyond when bootlegging and vice entrepreneurs John Torrio and Al Capone rose to prominence amidst shocking violence. This map is redrawn from an impressionistic map in Herbert Asbury's popular Gem of the Prairie (1940), itself based on earlier depictions of organized crime during the bootlegging era. Ignoring many illegal businesses--from neighborhood "soft drink parlors" to international liquor marketing networks--as well as public demand for booze, this focuses on the violent competition among gangs to dominate illegal markets in urban space. The fuzzy and ever-shifting "turf" of major gangs around 1925 is captured on this map at one moment in time, which subtly suggests that no area--perhaps no Chicagoan--was outside the control of some gang.