Historic, but not famous

Annie Walsh (Battle Annie) was often called the Queen of Hell’s Kitchen. She was one of the most feared brick hurlers of her time and was the head of the women’s Gopher gang, part of the famous Gopher gang of the area. the Lady Gophers, headquartered at Mallet Murphy’s Battle Row saloon (on 39th street btwn 10th and 11th Ave)  where they were officially known as the Battle Row Ladies’ Social and Athletic Club. She was able to assemble a force from 50 up to several hundred women who, armed with clubs, were used as reserve members in gang fights against rival gangs and police.

Walsh and her group were also hired out by businesses and labor unions throughout a number of violent labor disputes during the 1870s. Almost every prominent gang of the early and mid 1800s had a women’s branch. Some of the women were more brutal than the men’s gang.

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Historic, but not famous

Richard Welstead Croker, Sr. (November 24, 1843 – April 29, 1922), known as “Boss Croker,” was an Irish-American politician, a leader of New York City’s Tammany Hall. Brought to the United States when he was 2 and was educated in the New York public school system. He joined one of the Volunteer Fire Departments in 1863, becoming an engineer of one of the engine companies. He entered public service through the fire departments, eventually serving as a fire commissioner, but not before also working as an alderman and coroner for the city.

Mr. Croker controlled Tammany Hall after the death of leader John Kelly and received bribe money from the owners of brothels, saloons and illegal gambling dens. He survived Charles Henry Parkhurst’s attacks on Tammany Hall’s corruption and became a wealthy man. Croker was proud of his ability to bring about the election of Robert Van Wyck as the first mayor after the five boroughs of NYC incorporated in 1898. This was his last large political success and after failing to seat another mayor and a failed support of a presidential candidate, he left the United States in 1905 and returning to Ireland. He was married twice and estranged from all but one of this several children.

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Historic, but not famous

New York City is an old place. Amazing history for over 400 years, but many people who have made a mark in some way on the city have remained a bit more under the radar than our more famous citizens. 2018 will be a year we highlight a few of these people with a small biography. We hope you enjoy reading about these New Yorkers.

And our first bio…

Hortense Wittstein Gabel (December 16, 1912 – December 6, 1990) was an American lawyer who served on the New York Supreme Court. She was born in the Bronx and attended Hunter College High School. She graduated from Hunter College in 1934 and earned her law degree from Columbia Law School in 1937 and went to work at her father’s law firm. She married and army dentist in 1944.

Ms. Gabel made her biggest impression in NYC while working on housing, especially with the Title 1 program and helping people caught in the Slum Clearance issues of the 1960s. She had her first association with NYC housing in 1955, when she was appointed as general counsel to the Temporary State Rent Commission. In May 1959 she was hired by the city to create a neighborhood conservation program and was given a second position in 1960 as an assistant to the mayor on slum clearance issues.

On April 12, 1962, she was  appointed to head the city’s Rent and Rehabilitation Agency, in which she oversaw the nearly 5,000,000 residents living in rent controlled apartments. Gabel was appointed to the New York State Supreme Court in 1975. She was known as a compassionate judge who supported civil rights and women’s causes. In 1986, she was named judge of the year by the National Association of Women Judges, an organization she helped found in 1979. Ms. Gabel was often on the opposite side of housing issue from Robert Moses, head of the Slum Clearance committee in NYC as well as head of the Parks Commission, the Triboro commission and dozens of other state and city executive positions through much of the early and mid 1900s.

Unfortunately, she was removed from office while being investigated for reducing alimony payments in exchange for a position for her daughter with the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs. She was acquitted of all charges in December 0f 1988.  

 

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