The 10 Most Famous Chicago Gangsters & Criminals
Chicago was originally wet, muddy swamp land. In the 1850′s Chicago residents became tired of dealing with the mud and water. A decision was made to raise the entire city 10 feet onto stilts by jacking up existing structures. When the city was raised, there became an instant series of hidden, underground tunnels and rooms all over the city. This lead to the criminal “underworld” lurking beneath the city to plot and execute crimes without fear of getting caught. Also a time when the police force was basically not existent in Chicago, criminals from all over flocked to Chicago’s underworld.
Whether they were born, lived, or died in Chicago, some of the most notorious criminals of all-time are connected to the Windy City.
Dion O’Banion. Another rival of Al Capone due to bootlegging of the prohibition, Irish mobster O’Banion and his crew, called the North Side Gang, were famous for starting liquor hijacking in Chicago to put their rivals out of business. O’Banion did not survive the prohibition-era in Chicago when he as murdered at the age of 32 by Al Capone’s men of the Chicago Outfit.
Bugs Moran. Moran moved to Chicago at the age of 19 and quickly became promenent among the gangs he associated with. A major rival of Al Capone during the prohibition-era over bootlegging, he liked to use drive-bys as seen in the movies to gun down enemies. Seven members of his gang were gunned down during the famous Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929. He died of lung cancer in 1965 in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary.
John Wayne Gacy. The Killer Clown, a serial killer who sexually assaulted and killed at least 33 teenage boys between 1972 and 1978 in Norwood Park, Chicago. He buried most of the bodies underneath the floor of his home. He was arrested and sentenced to death which was carried out by lethal injection on May 10, 1994.
Tony Accardo, also known as “Joe Batters” (a nickname from Al Capone for his killing skills with a baseball bat) and “Big Tuna” (Chicago papers nicknamed him this after a fishing expedition).
A major player in the Chicago Mafia, also known as the Mob, Accardo ultimately ruled as boss of all bosses for the organized crime syndicate, the Chicago Outfit. Tony Accardo reigned for 50 years until his death in 1992. Unlike Al Capone, he was a successful Mob boss for a long time because he kept a low profile to avoid attention.
Tony Accardo was born and raised on Chicago’s Near West Side and from early on became involved in street gangs. A street gang superstar as a youth during prohibition, he was recruited into Al Capone’s group, the Chicago Outfit. By the 1940′s he was acting underboss for the Outfit and in 1972 became boss. During his reign he increased his power by expanding into narcotics and gambling with slot machines and took control of Vegas from NYC’s five families. His power extended all the way to the West Coast. One of the few Mafia bosses to die of natural causes in 1992 at the age of 86.
Baby Face Nelson. Born Lester M. Gillis in 1908, he was another hoodlum who learned the crime game as a youth in Chicago streets. Known as Baby Face by fellow gang members due to his boyish face and small stature of 5’4″ and a little over 130 pounds. After a brief prison sentence, Nelson left Chicago only to return in 1934 to become part of the Dillinger Gang. He was most well known for clashing with lawmen, killing several in pursuit of him, and was finally mortally wounded in 1934 at age 25.