Beginning of End of Chicago's Gangster War

George 'Bugs' Moran was the last of the spectacular North Side gang leaders, a colorful and violent urban dynasty that began with the rise of Dean O'Banion in 1920. Although Moran was not killed in the February 1929 bloodbath that had obviously been meant for him, his days as a mighty gangland power were numbered. Cops and journalists who prided themselves on knowing gangsters better than the hoods themselves dismissed Moran, figuring that the loss of his top men in the Clark Street garage and Capone's slow but sure absorption of the North Side would either force Bugs out of town for good or make him a vulnerable target that no red-hot seeking a reputation could resist.


Moran suffered neither predicted fate. The career that commenced in September 1910 with horse thievery and progressed by 1929 to bootlegging, cleaning and dyeing unions and dog racing, was the outward expression of a cunning and determined survivor. Although not as cerebral as John Torrio or Hymie Weiss, Moran was street-smart in the style of the pre-World War One gangsters; those rough and tumble brawlers who relied on their instincts alone and sneered that they'd never seen a bullet yet that was afraid of brains. He had the battle scars to prove his apprenticeship in that do-or-die environment, sporting a 4" knife scar along the right side of his neck and a crooked middle finger from a badly knit broken bone. He outlived O'Banion, Weiss, Drucci, Capone (his preference for monogamy rescued him from Capone's fate to die a syphilitic wreck), and probably those who predicted his imminent demise back in 1929.

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