10 Interesting Facts About Al Capone 

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Mugshot of Al Capone in 1929
Mugshot of Al Capone, 1929.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

At some point in your life, you may have heard of Al Capone and his reputation as a ruthless mobster. Al rose through the ranks of the criminal world and became possibly the most notorious mobster in American history. Al Capone’s criminal life has been thoroughly documented by State law enforcement and the U.S Government, but you may not have known these 10 facts about him.   

1. Al Capone Grew Up in New York

A young Al Capone with his mother Teresa Capone
Al Capone with his mother Teresa Capone, circa 1904.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Most people associate Al Capone as a mob boss in Chicago, but they may not have known that he was originally from Brooklyn, New York. Al was born to immigrant parents in 1899 and was one of nine children. Being very similar to other immigrant families at the time, Al’s childhood was not an affluent one; his mother was a seamstress and his father was a barber. This poor upbringing may have played an important factor in Al’s search for a better life. 

2. Al Capone Only had a Middle-School Education

Al Capone photographed in a suit in 1930.
“Scarface” Al Capone, 1930.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Al Capone was a typical student at an early age and showed no signs of being a criminal mastermind. Middle school was when Al began to lose interest in academics and started hanging out with the wrong crowd. The turning point in his life was the time when he struck a teacher after getting in trouble and then left school forever. Before turning to organized crime, he worked a plethora of different jobs in candy stores, bowling alleys, and manufacturing plants.  

3. Al Capone was a Gang Member from an Early Age  

A young Al Capone with his brother in 1904
A young Al Capone (right) with his older brother, circa 1904.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

After dropping out of school, Al Capone joined several different young gangs such as South Brooklyn Rippers, Forty Thieves Juniors, and James Street Boys. These gangs were not as serious as the ones you normally associate Al Capone with; known mostly for shoplifting, vandalism, and other petty crimes. These gangs would act as a stepping stone for Al’s criminal career, specifically the connections he made in the James Street Boys gang.  

4. Johnny Torrio was Al Capone’s Mentor 

John Torrio
Johnny Torrio, 1939.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

During Al Capone’s time with the James Street Boys, he formed a close connection with the leader, Johnny Torrio. Al performed odd jobs for Torrio until 1909 when Torrio moved to Chicago. Torrio introduced Al to the Five Points gang leader Frankie Yale in 1917, and Al worked Yale as a bouncer and bartender. During his time as a bartender, Al received the nickname most people may be familiar with. 

5. Al Capone Got His Nickname From a Fight in a Brothel

Al Capone in Miami, Florida.
Al Capone Mugshot from the Miami Police Department, 1930.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Al Capone’s famous nickname, Scarface, was given to him because of the noticeable scars across his face, but he did not get these scars in a very cinematic way. Instead of getting into a fight with a rival gang or something similar, Al was slashed across the face during a petty fight at the brothel he was bartending at. Al instigated the fight by making inappropriate comments to a woman who entered the bar with her brother. This fight was only the beginning of Al’s violent tendencies that earned him the reputation of a brutal mobster.

6. Torrio Invited him to Move to Chicago

Home of Al Capone, viewed at an angle from across the street, located at 7244 Prairie Avenue in the Greater Grand Crossing community area of Chicago, Illinois. An automobile is parked along the curb in front of the house.
Al Capone’s Home in Chicago, 1929.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Back in 1909, Johhny Torrio moved to Chicago to work for Big Jim Colosimo and eventually invited Al Capone to join him in 1920. The year Al joined Torrio in Chicago, Big Jim Colosimo was suspiciously assassinated; paving the way for Torrio to take control with Al at his side. Torrio and Al quickly invested in bootlegging; believing it to be a profitable growth industry. In 1925, Torrio was injured in an assassination attempt by a rival gang and gave control to Al.  

7. Al Capone Organized the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre 

St Valentines Day Massacre Wall
Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre wall at the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement.
Credit: Arnie Papp // CC BY 2.0

Once in control, Al Capone attempted to craft an identity as a legitimate businessman, but his violent tendencies often overshadowed that image. Al’s fight for control with rival gangs often escalated into violence but climaxed in 1929 with the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. From his home in Miami, Florida, it is believed that Al orchestrated an attack on seven members of the Bugs Moran gang by having them lined up on a wall and shot to death by mobsters dressed as police officers. Al was the primary suspect for organizing the massacre but he was never convicted and, instead, had his notoriety grow; something that the residents of Miami did not appreciate. 

8. Florida Residents Despised Him

Al Capone's Beach Home in Miami
Al Capone’s Miami Beach Home
Credit: The Jills/Coldwell Banker Real Estate // CC BY-SA 3.0

Living in Miami, Florida was not the peaceful and relaxing lifestyle you probably think of for Al Capone. Right from the start, the citizens of Miami disliked him and did not trust him; believing that he was bringing crime into the city. The Miami news outlets attempted to use slander to push Al out of the city, but he set his roots down and chose to reside there. The city government of Miami eventually involved themselves and had him under constant investigation and surveillance; which would eventually be his downfall.   

9. Al Capone Was Convicted for Tax Evasion

Al Capone 1939 Mugshot
Al Capone mugshot that was taken on the day he arrived at the Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island in California, 7th January 1939.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In addition to the city of Miami looking for reasons to imprison Al Capone, the Federal Government was also investigating him. The U.S government knew they could not prove he was the mastermind behind all of the violence and crime, but they did know they could prove he was making immense profits and not reporting it. The U.S. Treasury’s Special Intelligence Unit was gathering evidence of tax evasion on mobsters during that time, and they eventually gathered enough to justify Al’s conviction. A jury found Al guilty and he received a sentence of eleven years in prison; part of which he served in Alcatraz.  

10. Al Capone Died in Florida 

The Grave of Al Capone
The Grave of Al Capone.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

During his time in prison, Al Capone’s Syphilis infection worsened over time and eventually started impacting his mental capabilities. When he was released from Alcatraz in 1939, Al was admitted into a hospital in Baltimore where doctors concluded that he had the mental capacity of a 12-year-old. By 1938 Al was showing signs of dementia and was unable to return to his life of crime. He then chose to live the remainder of his days inside of his Miami home until his death in 1947. After his death, new outlets celebrated the end of a cold-blooded criminal responsible for countless deaths. 

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