February 24, 2011

Purple Gang Walking Tour

Last weekend we went on the walking tour of the Purple Gang's favorite hang outs in Albion.  The Purple Gang was notoriously known for their organized crime during the 1920s and 1930s.  Find more information here.  We found the map for the walking tour on Albion's city website.  We had a blast searching for all of the buildings. My favorite part was seeing what the buildings were used for in the past and what they are used for now.  Here is what we found . . .

(1) The Bohm Theater- Rumors have it that the Purple Gang often used the balcony of the theater on Sunday evenings to conduct business.

 (2) Former Auto Storage Building- This building (currently used as the Leisure Hour Club) was the auto storage building where the Purple Gang housed its customized Graham- Paige sedan.

(3) Site of Former Riverside Iron and Metal Company- This site (currently occupied in part by Thompson's Brakes and Suspension) was the location of the junkyard operated by the Purple Gang as a front for their criminal activities.

(4) 108 S. Monroe- Louis Fleisher rented an apartment at this address overlooking the Kalamazoo River, enabling him to keep an eye on the junkyard business.

(5) Albion Police Station- Louis Fleisher, Sam "Bernstein" Stone and other members were jailed here in May of 1936 after being arrested in connection with Gang's safe robbing activities.

(6) The Alley- Gang members allegedly used this alleyway for at least two purposes: to rough-up enemies; and to escape pursuit, especially through the use of the numerous fire escapes.

(7) Former Kroger Grocery- This building located at 225 S. Superior was the site of a Kroger Grocery store; the Purple Gang allegedly robbed the store's safe in 1936. 

Hope you enjoyed sharing in our little history lesson!  If you want to find more historical walking tours in Michigan check here.  I am already picking out which one we can visit next.

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