The Bowery Boys
The Bowery Boys were a gang located in lower Manhattan, New York. Different from gangs that grew out of poverty, the Bowery Boys came from middle class families. They had jobs as carpenters, mechanics, etc. This allowed them to dress more fashionably than other gangs. However, this did not make them any less ruthless.
The Bowery Boys knew how put on a public image. They all wore stovepipe hats, a kerchief around the neck, red shirt covered by a black silk vest, black trousers (always with the cuffs rolled up), and black boots with high heels.
These prejudiced hoodlums were involved in election rigging and vote tampering. They would “guard” polling places in order to intimidate voters, especially Irish Catholics, into voting for their candidates. In return, their districts would receive monies from the corrupt politicians that were elected into office. Of course, the gang profited from the elected officials also.
The gang supported the Native American Party, also known as the Know Nothing Party. They were referred to as the Know Nothings because the party was organized secretly and when members were asked about the party the usual response was “I know nothing.”
There were two police departments in New York City at that time, the Municipal Police and the Metropolitan police. The two departments were constantly fighting. The Bowery Boys supported the Metropolitan Police.
There was also another gang in the area called the Dead Rabbits. The gang was made up of Irish immigrants. From July 4 to July 6, 1857, the two gangs, and police departments, had an all-out battle. Officially, only 8 people were reported dead.
By the end of the 19th century, the Bowery Boys disbanded and ceased to exist, mostly due to their involvement in 1863 Draft Riots. Many were killed in these riots and some ended up getting drafted to fight the Civil War.