Road to Perdition - AL CAPONE AND THE OUTFIT

AL CAPONE AND  THE OUTFIT (Illustration) American History Biographies Famous People History Legends and Legendary People Social Studies Crimes and Criminals Film

This image depicts Al Capone's Chicago home, at 7244 South Prairie Avenue, as it appeared circa 1930. The image is online via Zillow, courtesy the Chicago Tribune.


When Al Capone arrived in Chicago with his Irish wife ("Mary "Mae" Coughlin) and their son (Albert "Sonny" Francis), he moved into a relatively modest house at 7244 South Prairie Avenue.  His family home was far from Torrio’s downtown headquarters where, by 1922, Capone was second-in-command.

Although he dropped out of school when he was in the sixth grade, Capone was smart. He was also burly. Many of the guys who worked for him called Al "The Big Fellow." He was even better at organizing Chicago’s vice industry than Torrio had been.

Between 1925-1930, he controlled distilleries, breweries, night clubs, brothels, speakeasies, bookie joints, gambling houses, race tracks and more. It is reported that his organization averaged about $100 million a year during that time frame. When the stock market crashed in 1929, ushering in "the Great Depression," Capone quickly opened soup kitchens for the unemployed.

Newspaper boys to policemen were part of Capone’s spy network. His second-in-command, Frank Nitti, was known as "The Enforcer." No attempt on Capone’s life was ever successful. The same could not be said of his enemies.

The most notorious murder episode of the Capone years took place on February 14, 1929. Posing as police officers, members of Capone’s organization "apprehended" a group of men at 2122 N. Clark Street. The building was the liquor headquarters of bootlegger George "Bugs" Moran; most of the men in the garage were part of his gang.

Thinking the "police" were conducting a raid, the unwitting rivals dropped their weapons and put their hands against the wall. Before they could defend themselves, Capone’s men fired more than 150 bullets (from two shotguns and two machine guns) at the seven men.

Their bullet-riddled bodies were left for the real police to find. The Tribune’s headline described what has since been known as the St. Valentine Day’s Massacre.

In his book The Untouchables (published after his death), Eliot Ness (the famous federal agent and Capone’s nemesis) wrote that 1929 Chicago was ruled by:

the knife, pistol, shotgun, tommygun...of the underworld

At the peak of his power in 1930, Capone was dubbed "Public Enemy Number One." He had been in prison only once, the year prior, for carrying a gun. It was a short-lived stay.

Robert Isham Randolph, chairman of "the Secret Six" men who were determined to restore law and order in Chicago, reportedly said:

There is no business, not an industry, in Chicago that is not paying tribute, directly or indirectly, to racketeers and gangsters.

But while Eliot Ness tried to enforce the government’s prohibition laws against "the outfit," Elmer Irey and Frank Wilson were building a different type of case against "The Big Fellow."

This time, Capone was "going down."

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Apr 13, 2017

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"AL CAPONE AND THE OUTFIT" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 01, 2002. May 26, 2020.
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