Monday, February 2, 2009

More Of Notorious Uptown

UU's been running an occasional - very occasional - series revisiting Uptown's days as a mobster hangout in the 1920s and 1930s.

A big thank you goes out to Richard Lindberg's Return to the Scene of the Crime, and its sequel, Return Again to the Scene of the Crime, for telling the stories about infamous places all over Chicago, and allowing us to find out who walked these streets and inhabited these buildings before we did.

According to Lindberg, "In July 1935, there was no finer place to live in all of Uptown than the swanky Eastwood Towers, located at 922 Eastwood." Today that block is best known for the People's Music School, but 74 years ago, murder most foul happened on the then-tony cul-de-sac.

"Two-Gun Louie" Alterie was a gangland rum runner who hung out in the 1920s with North Side mobsters like Dion O'Banion, Bugs Moran and Hymie Weiss, defending the North Side territory from Capone's South Side gang.

When Prohibition became the law of the land in 1933, "Two-Gun" became a labor racketeer and head of the mob-controlled Theatrical Janitors Union Local 25. He and his wife lived in Uptown's residential hotels and led a relatively quiet life. On April 1, 1935, they moved into the Eastwood Towers.

In June, Louie was forced to testify in court against Al Capone's brother, Ralph Capone, on a tax evasion charge.

Soon afterwards, someone else moved onto Eastwood : mob sharpshooters. They rented an apartment across the street by the week, waiting and watching for the moment to get Louie in their cross-hairs.

On the morning of July 19th, Louie left Eastwood Towers for the last time. Shots were fired from the rental apartment at 927 Eastwood, Louie fell in the middle of the street, and died shortly afterwards at Lake View Hospital.

"Labor troubles" was considered the motive, although his testimony against Ralph Capone is more likely the reason. His murder was never solved.

Sadly, gang murders still trouble the neighborhood. Just around the corner and down the alley, on December 7, 2006, a gang member shot and killed a man who was leaving a party. You can still see the bullet hole in the garage door. The violence is as senseless now as it was when the likes of "Two-Gun Louie" walked Uptown's streets.

Previous "Notorious Chicago" installments cover John Dillinger's Uptown and Machine Guns on Agatite.


  1. Power is out right now on Beacon and Malden, for at least 3 or 4 blocks south of Lawrence. Crazy!

  2. This was a very good post, UU. Informative but also acknowledging that violence related to the underground economy is not an entirely new phenomenon. Well done!

  3. crazy... I live next door at 928 W Eastwood.

  4. Does the book give us any new information regarding those skeletons that were found beneath the old Rainbo Roller Rink when it was razed for the condo development?

  5. No, the last book was published in 2001, which is (I think) before the skeletons were found.

    I'd love to know what's up with that! Since one was wearing running shoes, they weren't from the Capone era.