Fans of HBO’s epic crime drama, Boardwalk Empire, may be surprised to discover that many of the characters are actually based on real people. Some of them, such as Arnold Rothstein, lived in Manhattan, and many of the places he and other characters used to frequent are still landmarks today. Here are a few of the famous true-to-life Manhattan haunts from the fictionalized series.
The primary “office” Rothstein used to mediate underworld disputes was called Lindy’s Restaurant, at Broadway and 49th Street in Manhattan. He would stand outside, surrounded by bodyguards, to give orders that would determine the fates of other real-life Boardwalk characters such as George Remus, Nucky Thompson and Al Capone. Rothstein died at 345 West 50th.
There are other addresses that still ring with cinematic importance. 265 East 10th Street was the boyhood home of Charles “Lucky” Luciano. This powerful gangster’s favorite establishment until his death was the Alto Knights Social Club on 247 Mulberry Street.
Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel is another member of Rothstein’s New York gang in the series. Originally, and in the show, he goes by the name Benny, but his “crazier than a bedbug” behavior will earn him the famous nickname, “Bugsy,” in the upcoming seasons. Bugsy Siegel grew up in New York, but he made his mark in Las Vegas. In that chapter of his life he was portrayed by Warren Beatty in a film simply titled “Bugsy”.
Bugsy started his notorious career in Manhattan when he joined a gang on Lafayette Street on the Lower East Side. As he grew to prominence as a ruthless and feared hit man, he eventually became extraordinarily wealthy. Not afraid to enjoy the finer things in life, he bought a luxurious apartment in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on 301 Park Avenue in Manhattan. Frank Costello and Lucky Luciano also had apartments in the same Manhattan luxury building. Luciano lived in room 39. The hotel still stands today. Costello has only just been introduced to Boardwalk Empire in a recent episode.
The next time you are in Manhattan, be sure to visit the Back Room (formerly Lanksy’s Lounge) at 102 Norfolk St. It was originally a speakeasy frequented by the mobster Meyer Lansky. The now legitimate bar plays tribute to its original patrons and prohibition-era roots by serving alcoholic drinks in double-handled teacups. This detail is also prominent in Boardwalk Empire.
The multiple Emmy Award-winning production has been praised for its historical accuracy. Therefore, it will not be surprising if in future episodes with the New York crew that more Manhattan luxury buildings are featured. If you are a fan of the show, it is fun to combine your hunt for an apartment in Manhattan with a peek behind the scenes of real-life drama.
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