From Gangsters To Gentrification: 8 New York Mob Murder Scenes Then And Now

Published September 30, 2018
Updated May 24, 2023

‘O Sole Mio

Little Italy Mob Hit

Getty ImagesThe scene outside ‘O Sole Mio following a murder there. Circa 1939.

Mob Murders

Harmon LeonThe scene of the ‘O Sole Mio murder today.

The murder victim in question here may remain unknown, but the photographer who immortalized his demise certainly isn’t. Throughout the 1930s and ’40s, Arthur Fellig a.k.a. Weegee stayed tapped into police frequencies on his radio and always managed to be first at seemingly every major crime scene — where he would capture images of unparalleled power. His stark images of old New York murders remain iconic to this day.

Weegee once later recounted that he “had so many unsold murder pictures lying around my room…I felt as if I were renting out a wing of the city morgue.”

One such murder is the slaying of this unidentified man in what was likely a mob hit carried out near the ‘O Sole Mio restaurant on Mulberry Street in Little Italy circa 1939.

Currently, at the old locale of ‘O Sole Mio, tourists can buy “I Heart NY” gifts and T-shirts. But what they might not know, as they purchase discount souvenirs for their loved ones, is that in the late 1930s, a grisly murder took place right there, and a bloody corpse was left laying on the curbside.

The John Masseria Murder

John Masseria Killing

Getty ImagesThe body of John Masseria lies on 19th St. near the Hudson River on June 22, 1937.

New York City Mob Murders

Harmon LeonThe site of Masseria’s murder today.

The area surrounding this stretch of 19th St. in Manhattan may be well-developed and pleasant-looking today, but it was once home to a particularly brazen mob murder.

On June 22, 1937, it was here that unidentified mob killers took down John Masseria right in the street. John was a gambler and he had been shot through the heart when he refused to pay a debt he owed after losing a bet.

John was the brother of Joseph “Joe the Boss” Masseria, himself had been killed by Charles “Lucky” Luciano’s gunmen as part of the latter’s power grab six years earlier. Eventually, John followed in his brother’s bloody footsteps (although the details remain clear and some sources identify the location of the hit as 10th St.).