Famous New York City Mafia Murders: Sparks Steak House
Sparks Steak House at 210 East 46th St. has steaks to die for — literally. Such was the fate of Gambino family crime boss Paul “Big Paul” Castellano and underboss Thomas Bilotti, who were gunned down near the restaurant’s entrance on Dec. 16, 1985.
The reason for their demise was none other than infamous mob boss John Gotti, then a Gambino underboss who ordered Castellano’s murder as part of a power grab.
By the mid-1980s, Castellano’s hold on the Gambino crime family began to weaken. When Neil Dellacroce, a well-liked leader in the Gambino family, died the reserved and reclusive Castellano chose not to attend his funeral. Gotti saw this opportunity to strike and convinced many members of the family to switch their loyalty from Castellano to himself.
The only thing left to do was get rid of Castellano once and for all.
Around 5 PM on the evening of the murder, Gotti sat in a Lincoln sedan with tinted windows parked across the street from Sparks and watched the murder. When Castellano’s car pulled up to Sparks, Gotti gave the order over a walkie-talkie.
Four gunmen wearing white trench coats and black Russian hats ran up to the car and blasted away. The gunmen hit Castellano six times and Bilotti four times as they exited their car. Once the hit was done, Gotti drove slowly past the bodies, taking one final look at his kill before making his exit onto Second Avenue and back to Brooklyn.
Gotti’s plan worked and with the deaths of Castellano and Bilotti, he became the new boss of the Gambino crime family.
Today, the legacy of the mob hit has attracted tourists to Sparks who apparently want to relive the mob magic.
The Park Sheraton Hotel
Feared Mafioso Albert Anastasia was a founder and leader of Murder, Inc., the New York underworld’s enforcement arm in the 1930s. Before that, Anastasia had helped Charles “Lucky” Luciano killed old-guard mob boss Joe Masseria and thus help found the modern New York Mafia as we know it.
And for a man who made his career on murder, Anastasia fittingly saw his own life end in murder as well. On the morning of Oct. 25, 1957, Anastasia was chauffeured from his mansion in Fort Lee, New Jersey to his barber at the Park Sheraton Hotel at 870 7th Ave. in Manhattan.
As Anastasia sat in the barber’s chair, two men with scarves covering their faces rushed in and shoved the barber out of the way. The gunmen then proceeded to fire away, firing ten shots total with one deadly bullet hitting Anastasia’s head.
After the hail of bullets, Anastasia tried to lunge at his assassins. But in his disoriented state, he’d actually lunged at the gunmen’s reflections in the mirror on the barbershop wall. The gunmen then kept firing until the man behind Murder, Inc. lay dead on the floor — roughly where, today, you can enjoy a nice caramel macchiato and a scone.
The two men who gunned him down were rival mobsters but their exact identities’ remain unknown to this day. His death had a lasting impact in the entire current and future New York mob scene.
Shortly after his death, the heads of the crime organizations met to discuss the future of the mafia empire. The meeting resulted in Vito Genovese becoming the boss, and the FBI seeing them as a serious lethal organization.