chapter  36
Vito Marcantonio
Pages 10

Marc was born on December 10, 1902, in a tenement in the heart of Italian Harlem, a community located between Third Avenue and the East River in East Harlem that consisted of seemingly endless rows of tenements [built for the immigrant poor before housing codes required that some space be left for air and light and that apartments contain bathrooms]. It was also the largest Italian community in the United States, housing in 1930 eighty thousand Italian Americans, especially the poorest Southern Italian immigrants, congregating and replicating their ways of life in what has been called the most Italian of America's Little Italy's. When

Marcantonio died in 1954, he lived only four blocks away. His friends continued to be his boyhood pals, including those who had joined the Mafia. He explained: "I was born and raised in that district and I know everybody in that district, good, bad, doctors, lawyers, Indians, thieves, honest people, everybody." He had his face shaved every morning in the barbershop across the street from his home, bought his newspaper from the corner newsstand, and although he did not attend Sunday mass he marched in the annual procession of the festa of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. His entire life and career were inextricably connected with this remarkable community.