Sunday, 7 December 2008


At 644 Broadway (at Bleeker Street) stands the building that used to house The Manhattan Savings Bank (now the Atrium clothing complex) which was the site of the 19th century's biggest bank robbery. Carried out by the King of Bank Robbers, George Leonidas Leslie, on October 27, 1878, with a gang that included such notables as Jimmy Hope, Shang Draper, Red Leary, Johnny Dobbs, Worcester Sam Perris, Banjo Pete Emerson and Eddie Goodie Gearing. They made off with over $2.7 million (over $54 million at today's values); unfortunately for them, all but $12,000 was in non-negotiable bonds.

Leslie was an architect turned robber who was known to both law enforcement and the underworld as a criminal genius. From 1874-1884 it is estimated that Leslie's gang was responsible for 80% of America's bank robberies. During this time he planned and executed over a hundred robberies and stole nearly $12 million ($230 million). In his later years he became a consultant for other robbers but allowed dalliances with two women to distract him from his task. His gang lost faith in his abilities, and on June 4th, 1884 he was found murdered on Tramp's Rock in the Bronx. His murder was never solved. His funeral was paid for by Frederika "Mother" Mandelbaum, better known as Marm, a notorious and much used fence who lived at 79 Clinton Street on the corner of Rivington Street.

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