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LES Jewish Gangsters Star in a New Neighborhood Walking Tour

By Lisha Arino | September 21, 2015 4:28pm
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A new walking tour called "Jewish Gangs of the Lower East Side" will focus on the neighborhoods more infamous historical characters, like Meyer Lansky, pictured here, who was dubbed "the reputed financial genius of the underworld."
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Lower East Side History Project

LOWER EAST SIDE — Bootleggers, mobsters, and racketeers will be the focus of a new walking tour organized by the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy and the Lower East Side History Project.

Jewish Gangs of the Lower East Side,” which kicks off next month on Oct. 25, will highlight some of the neighborhood’s more infamous personalities like Arnold “The Brain” Rothstein, who was accused of fixing the 1919 World Series, and Meyer Lansky, who was dubbed “the reputed financial genius of the underworld.”

The tour will make stops at the gangsters’ local haunts, as well as the locations where they did business, said David Wachs, the president of the conservancy’s board who helped organize the tour.

The tour will also put the gangs into historical context, he added, exploring how they rose in prominence and how they were received by the community.

“Back then, they were not always necessarily seen as the bad guys,” Wachs said. “They were protecting their own, they weren’t really thought of as these big-time national crime guys.”

Eric Ferrara, the founder of the LESHP, will lead the tour. Ferrara, a fourth-generation New Yorker, leads a similar tour focusing on the Mafia each weekend.

“Jewish Gangs of the Lower East Side” starts at 11 a.m. at 76 Second Ave. Advance tickets are $22 for adults and $20 for seniors and students. Tickets cost an additional $2 the day of the tour.

Visit the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy’s website for more information or to register for the tour.