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Vito Genovese Photograph by Phil Stanziola, 1959. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-123541).

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Genovese, Vito (21 November 1897–14 February 1969), criminal entrepreneur, was born in Ricigliano, Italy, the son of Philip Anthony Genovese, a building trades worker, and Nancy (maiden name unknown). Genovese received the equivalent of a fifth-grade education in Italy before following his father to New York City in 1913. A petty thief and street tough in the Greenwich Village area of Little Italy, Genovese soon established a reputation for unusual cunning and violence. Frequently arrested on charges of assault and homicide, he was twice convicted of carrying a concealed weapon. More important, he became a collector for the illegal Italian lottery, an indication that he had attracted the attention of locally prominent underworld figures....

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Dutch Schultz Waiting for the verdict in one of the income tax cases against him, 1935. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111442).

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Schultz, Dutch (06 August 1902–24 October 1935), gangster and underworld entrepreneur, was born Arthur Flegenheimer in the Bronx, New York City, the son of Herman Flegenheimer, a glazier and baker, and Emma Neu. Before the boy completed the sixth grade, his father either deserted the family or died. Arthur’s mother then took in laundry to support the family, and he quit school to sell newspapers, run errands, and work as an office boy, printer’s apprentice, and roofer. While he proudly retained his roofers’ union card as evidence of his working-class respectability, he was pulled into the gang world of the Bronx slums. In 1919 he was convicted on a burglary charge and was sent to a reformatory for fifteen months. This police record, plus his cultivation of a reputation as a hardened tough, led to his calling himself Dutch Schultz, the name of a well-known former street brawler in the area....