New York Times, August 22, 1931

New York Times, August 22, 1931

The final battle in which the bandits were killed was in front of 146 Dyckman Street.  Here the bandits were overtaken in a taxicab driven by William Nugent and occupied by Patrolman Albert Walker of the Thirtieth Precinct, Patrolman Albert Morrell of Traffic Squad H and Detective William Kiley.   The two patrolmen and the detective, standing on the running board of Nugent’s cab and using the car as a barricade, shot it out with the thugs. When the bodies of the gunmen were removed from their bullet-riddled car a revolver, five automatic pistols and a quantity of cartridges containing “dumdum” bullets were found on the floor.”  (New York Times, August 22, 1931)

1931 shootout on Dyckman Street near Sherman Avenue.

1931 shootout on Dyckman Street near Sherman Avenue.

On a mid-August evening in 1931 the apartment dwellers of the Dyckman district had just begun to stream home for the weekend.  This was Prohibition-era Inwood and a gangland shooting outside a speakeasy called The Mad Dot Boat Club, on Dyckman Street near Seaman Avenue, the previous spring, still had many on edge.

 Standard Union, August 22, 1931

Standard Union, August 22, 1931

Teenager Phil Dickens was working a summer job at the hardware store on Dyckman Street, not far from Broadway, when he first heard the gunfire.  The sixteen-year-old, who lived several blocks west on Payson Avenue, impulsively stepped outside to see what was happening.

James Cagney’s gangster tale “Public Enemy” was fresh in the theaters and, like many youths, Dickens wanted to witness some real life action.

That he was about to walk into a raging gun-battle never crossed his mind.

The decision nearly cost Dickens his life.

Looking west up Dyckman Street the teen watched with saucer-eyed amazement as a bullet-riddled taxicab zigzagged towards the Loews Inwood movie theater on the south side of the street.

1931 Shootout on Dyckman Street, Acme Newspictures. (Note Loews Inwood theater in background)

1931 Shootout on Dyckman Street, Acme Newspictures. (Note Loews Inwood theater in background)

The cab slowed to a crawl as police moved ever closer, peppering the mysterious yellow cab with shotgun blasts and machine gun fire.

Standing on the edge of the firefight, time seemed to slow down as the gun battle raged around him.  Only later, his heart racing, did he stop to think that he had been directly in the line of fire.
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Recently, MyInwood.net reader Frank Yannaco wrote in to tell me about the concession stand his family once owned and operated inside the Isham Street entrance to Inwood Hill Park.

Inwood Hill Park Concession stand on the corner of Isham and Seaman in 1977. Louise & Frank Yannaco pictured with merchandise in the background.

We soon began a dialogue that included a promise of photos and descriptions of his life in Inwood.  True to his word, Frank soon emailed me photos and descriptions from Inwood’s not so distant past.  I would like to thank Frank for his valuable contribution and encourage other readers to reach out and do the same.

Yannaco family poses for photo in front of the concession stand in 1977.

“Joe” and Frank Yannaco, 1960

According to Frank, “Joe’s” Concession Stand was located in Inwood Park on Isham Street across the street from Good Shepherd Church. My Family owned the stand from the mid 1920′s when the Presbyterian Medical Center was built.  It was given to my Grandfather James Pupley and his brother Peter by the NYC parks department when they arrived in this country from Greece in the 1900′s. They went to the Parks Department with the idea to sell snacks in the park. His original stand was on the site of the Presbyterian Medical Center. They asked him what park he wanted to relocate to and he chose Inwood Park.
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Inwood Postcards

Inwood Postcards

New York City has always been a popular subject when it comes to the world of postcards. I like to call the collection that follows “Postcards from the Edge.” For the most part, I’ve tried to focus on Inwood proper, but other subjects, like the George Washington Bridge, Edgar Allan Poe’s cottage in the Bronx, […]

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Prehistoric Inwood: Mastodons in Our Midst

Inwood New York City Mastodon

In warm weather the Dyckman Strip is a lively scene replete with music, the clink of cocktail glasses, laughter and animated conversation.  As brunch winds down, the crowd migrates west to the marina, on the banks of the Hudson River, to marvel at the view—a nearly unblemished vista that has changed little since Henry Hudson […]

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Miramar Saltwater Pool

Miramar Saltwater Pool, Inwood, New York City, thumbnail

“They played music, too. If you went under, you couldn’t hear it, and when you surfaced, there it was! Walking home (I lived on Post) I remember that heavy, exhausted feeling, and also feeling like I was still in the water. We were lucky to have had such a fun place to enjoy the summer.” […]

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Inwood’s Kingsbridge Power House: Manhattan on a Nickel

Thumbnail image for Inwood’s Kingsbridge Power House: Manhattan on a Nickel

On the northern end of Manhattan, just east of Broadway between 216th and 218th Streets, across from the Twin Donut, in the shadow of the elevated subway rails, sits a rather non-descript beige brick facility owned by the New York City Transit Authority. Today the complex, known as the Kingsbridge Bus Depot, is used primarily […]

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Asylums on Inwood Hill

Asylums on Inwood Hill

A century ago  asylums and institutions lined the ridge of Inwood Hill.  Inside these fortress-like structures, all demolished by Robert Moses in the 1930′s, tortured, long-dead souls were kept under lock and key.  Some were criminals, some were inebriates and drug addicts, others had the mere misfortune of suffering from tuberculosis.   All were outcasts, banished […]

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Inwood’s First Selfie: The Work of Vermilyea Avenue Photographer William Davis Hassler

William Davis Hassler

Selfie: “A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”  -Oxford English Dictionary In 2013 the Oxford English Dictionary officially recognized the word “selfie”, but as early as 1913 Inwood photographer William Davis Hassler was perfecting the technique. Hassler, a skilled […]

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