Four years after Gangster took over Al Capone’s leading crime syndicate, he had grossed over $ 40 million – about $ 550 million today. The money came from the illegal sale of alcohol during prohibition; Bottles were distributed to more than 10,000 speakeasies and brothels in a huge bootlegging network in the Midwest.
Capone’s distribution of alcohol was illegal, but for many Americans, the man’s work was heroic. He claimed that he was just a businessman who gave people what they wanted – and what people wanted more than anything in the 1920s was alcohol.
But Capone’s role as Italian-American Robin Hood didn̵
However, it was the stock market crash on October 29, 1929 that spurred Capone on to his greatest philanthropic work. The American economy collapsed almost overnight in the Great Depression. Banks failed, shops were closed, and millions were suddenly unemployed and hungry. Hundreds of soup kitchens appeared across the country. One of them belonged to Al Capone.
No questions asked
When Al Capone’s soup kitchen opened at 935 South State Street in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago in mid-November 1930, hundreds of thousands of Chicagoers were unemployed. The following year, 624,000 people – or 50 percent of the Chicago workforce – were unemployed.
Capone’s charity had no name, just a sign above the door that said “Free soup, coffee, and donuts for the unemployed.” Inside, women in white aprons served an average of 2200 people a day with a smile and no questions asked. Breakfast consisted of hot coffee and sweet rolls. Both lunch and dinner consisted of soup and bread. Every 24 hours the guest devoured 350 breads and 100 dozen rolls. They rinsed their meals with 30 pounds of coffee sweetened with 50 pounds of sugar. The entire operation was $ 300 a day.
The soup kitchen has not promoted its connection to Capone, but the gangster benefactor’s name has been used in stories in local newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and The rocky island of Argus. Those who had lost their luck appeared to have little concern about eating out of Chicago’s worst crime boss. Often the line to get to the kitchen was so long that it passed the door of the city police headquarters, where Capone was considered # 1, according to Public Enemy Harper’s Magazine. The queue was particularly long when a Thanksgiving party with cranberry sauce and beef stew was held in Capone’s soup kitchen for 5000 hungry Chicagoers. (Why beef and not turkey? After 1,000 turkeys were stolen from a nearby department store, Capone feared he would be responsible for the theft and made a last-minute menu change.)
Capone’s ulterior motives
Capone’s efforts to feed Chicago in the darkest days of the Great Depression were not entirely altruistic. It wasn’t even his original idea, but that of his friend and political ally Daniel Serritella, who was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1930. Capone also didn’t invest much of his own money in the operation. Instead, Deirdre Bair enrolls Capone: his life, legacy and legendHe bribed and blackmailed other businesses to fill the pantry. In just one example, during the Seritella trial in 1932 for conspiring with grocers to defraud customers [PDF]The court found that a load of ducks donated to Christmas baskets for the poor ended up in Capone’s soup kitchen instead.
Perhaps more than anything else, Capone opened his soup kitchen to get the public back on his side after he was involved in the Valentine’s Day massacre in 1929. In the assassination attempt, Capone’s employees are said to have murdered seven men, five of whom were from the rival North Side Gang, in a parking garage in Chicago – although no one has ever been prosecuted. Harpers The writer Mary Borden distilled Capone’s double dealing when she described him as “an ambidextrous giant who kills with one hand and feeds with the other”.
Capone’s soup kitchen was abruptly closed in April 1932. The owners claimed that the kitchen was no longer needed because the economy was picking up, although the number of unemployed across the country increased by 4 million between 1931 and 1932. The guests who were present The daily kitchen had to change to a different one.
Two months later, Capone was charged with 22 tax evasion cases. the charge that eventually landed him in San Francisco’s Alcatraz federal prison. Although Capone vowed to reopen his soup kitchen during his trial, the doors remained closed. When he was released from prison in 1939, an angry case of Syphilis had rendered Capone mentally and physically unable to live his own life, let alone that of the once-dominant Chicago crime syndicate and the soup kitchen that softened his gangster image.
Capone died in 1947, but his larger-than-life legacy lives on. His soup kitchen wasn’t so lucky. The building became a flea house, and in 1955 the Chicago authorities considered it a fire hazard and closed it permanently. Today there is only one parking space left in place of Chicago’s most notorious pantry.