Mobster Joe Gallo's 1950s Headquarters – Brooklyn, New York - Atlas Obscura
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Brooklyn, New York

Mobster Joe Gallo's 1950s Headquarters

The site where Joe Gallo kept his guns, pet lion, and launched an all out mob war in 1960s Brooklyn. 

When the docks are full of opportunities to make a buck through intimidation, why let one mob boss reap all the riches?

This was the question asked by a group of Gallo brothers and local thugs working for Brooklyn’s waterfront crime circuit in the 1960’s. As the Gallo brothers ambitions grew they tried to strike out on their own to terrible effect.

It was in this house in Redhook, Brooklyn that Joe Gallo lived with a pet lion, a stockpile of arms, and it was from here that he lead his brothers in a war against mobster Joe Profaci.

After working for Profaci’s rackets for several years, Gallo’s gang elected to kidnap his sister to show they were serious about breaking away from his influence to start their own extortion operation.

The Gallos began cutting into Profaci’s territory. This was the first of many backfired planned by the brazen Gallo lot. To retaliate for the kidnapping of his sister, Profaci’s thugs attempted to strangle Larry Gallo. Joseph Magnasco of the Gallo gang was shot and killed in the encounter. The next year saw 12 more casualties, dozens more attempted assassinations and well over 100 arrests in the first open gang war in Brooklyn since the 1931 Castellammarese War.

The war ground to a halt in 1961 when Joe Gallo was convicted on conspiracy and extortion. After his release, he was gunned down in a Little Italy restaurant while celebrating his 43rd birthday. Though the local Catholic church refused to perform an official service, Gallo was laid to rest in the Green-wood cemetery. Bob Dylan’s song “Joey” was inspired by Joseph Gallo’s death.

“I never considered him a gangster. I always considered him some kind of hero…An underdog fighting against the elements.”– Bob Dylan

In 1975 while trying to replace a sewer line, a cave in killed a city worker and forced the city to demolish 33 buildings, including Joe Gallo’s old haunt.