14 Awesome 19th Century Street Gang Names
By Arika Okrent
You may have heard of the Bowery Boys, a notorious New York street gang of the mid-19th century. But there were plenty of other gangs fighting it out for turf during that time, and some of them had pretty great names. Here are 14 street gangs you wouldn’t want to mess with, even if their names made you laugh.
1. Baxter Street Dudes
Teenage former newsies who went around stealing when not performing at the theater they ran.
2. Boodle Gang
They specialized in nabbing meat off butcher carts.
3. Corcoran’s Roosters
Also known as the Charlton Street Gang, they specialized in robbing cargo ships.
4. Humpty Jackson Gang
With a leader whose most noticeable feature was his hunchback, this gang worked the Lower East Side, with their base of operations in a graveyard.
5. Molasses Gang
Their thing was to get a shopkeeper to fill a hat with molasses and then slap it over his head and run off with the cash drawer.
6. Crazy Butch Gang
A ragtag, clever bunch of teen pickpockets.
7. Tub of Blood Bunch
They worked the East River waterfront from their headquarters—a lovely-sounding bar called Tub of Blood.
One of New York’s most powerful 1870s gangs supposedly used a special call that sounded like “why-oh!”
9. Yakey Yakes
This gang was headed up by leader Yakey Yake Brady and worked in the vicinity of the Brooklyn Bridge.
10. Plug Uglies
A Baltimore gang active in pre-Civil War politics, a.k.a. election day rioting.
An Irish gang from County Kerry.
12. Daybreak Boys
Known for wreaking havoc on the New York waterfront in the 1850s.
Potash (from the Dutch for “pot ash”) is the name for potassium compounds once commonly used in soap-making. This gang was headquartered near the Babbit Soap Factory on the Lower West Side.
14. Dead Rabbits
A splinter group from the Roach Guard, this Irish gang fought hard against the Bowery Boys in over 200 battles.
A version of this story ran in 2014; it has been updated for 2021.