Mt. Carmel St. Cristina Society

Little Hell, Chicago

Did you know...

Chicago! Between 1890 and 1910 the Chicago population gained a million people, making the population 2,185,283. So Chicago became the second largest city after New York and housing became the serious problem. Most of the Italians were in the city via a district called “Little Hell.” Chicago became known as the most wicked city in the United States especially the Cicero section which later became the territory of Al Capone. Little Hell was crowded with gin mills, whore houses, gambling joints and other operations. The police stayed clear. Poverty and organized crime had preceded the Italians in Little Hell, which was previously occupied by the Swedes and Irish. When these two groups moved on, Little Hell became Little Sicily. The Chicago newspaper exaggerated the deception of Southern Italians especially the Sicilians as knife-wielding hotheads but the mastermind behind the crime in Chicago was not an Italian but an Irishman Michael Cassius McDonald. Anyone who wanted to operate within the red light district had to “see Mike” arranging to pay a large proportion of their profits to him. He ruled the city and chose the politicians who would be nominated, elected and then became his puppets!