The Man with the Sawed-Off Leg and Other Tales of a New York City Block brings to life the ghosts who inhabit that row of townhouses on Manhattan’s stately Riverside Drive for the first fifty years of the 20th Century, including a vicious crew of hoodlums who carried out what at the time was the largest armored car robbery in American history.
It was a daring, minutely planned exploit that ended in blood, when one of the gangsters accidentally shot himself. He was taken to one of the townhouses — then, in 1934, an underworld safehouse — where he died and was stuffed in a steamer trunk (but his cohorts had to saw off one of his legs to fit him in it). From gangsters to industrialists, from future mayors to murderers, from movie stars to mafia dons, one block in a burgeoning city saw it all.
Daniel J. Wakin brings to life the people who lived in each of the seven graceful relics of Beaux Arts New York townhouses known as the “Seven Sisters” and his narrative reads like a fascinating Who’s Who of mid-20th century New York City.