Al Capone

the biggest mobster in chicago

Facts

Born in 1899 in Brooklyn, New York, to poor immigrant parents, Al Capone went on to become the most infamous gangster in American history. In 1920 during the height of Prohibition, Capone’s multi-million dollar Chicago operation in bootlegging, prostitution and gambling dominated the organized crime scene. Capone was responsible for many brutal acts of violence, mainly against other gangsters. The most famous of these was the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929, in which he ordered the assassination of seven rivals.

Capone in Chicago

When Capone was 19, he married Mae Coughlin just weeks after the birth of their child, Albert Francis. His former boss and friend Johnny Torrio was the boy’s godfather. Now a husband and a father, Capone wanted to do right by his family, so he moved to Baltimore where he took an honest job as a bookkeeper for a construction company. But when Capone’s father died of a heart attack in 1920, Torrio invited him to come to Chicago. Capone jumped at the opportunity.



In Chicago, Torrio was presiding over a booming business in gambling and prostitution, but with the enactment in 1920 of the 18th Amendment prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol, Torrio focused on a new, more lucrative field: bootlegging. As a former petty thug and bookkeeper, Capone brought both his street smarts and his expertise with numbers to Torrio’s Chicago operations. Torrio recognized Capone’s skills and quickly promoted him to partner. But unlike the low-profile Torrio, Capone began to develop a reputation as a drinker and rabble-rouser. After hitting a parked taxicab while driving drunk, he was arrested for the first time. Torrio quickly used his city government connections to get him off.


Capone cleaned up his act when his family arrived from Brooklyn. His wife and son, along with his mother, younger brothers and sister all moved to Chicago, and Capone bought a modest house in the middle-class South Side.


In 1923, when Chicago elected a reformist mayor who announced that he planned to rid the city of corruption, Torrio and Capone moved their base beyond the city limits to suburban Cicero. But a 1924 mayoral election in Cicero threatened their operations. To ensure they could continue doing business, Torrio and Capone initiated an intimidation effort on the day of the election, March 31, 1924, to guarantee their candidate would get elected. Some voters were even shot and killed. Chicago sent in police to respond, and they brutally gunned down Capone’s brother Frank in the street.