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Al Capone Goes To Atlantic City
(The New York Evening Journal January 1930).
(newspaper clipping from the Mario Gomes collection).
Al Capone (center) makes an appearance in Atlantic City hosted by fellow gangster Enoch Johnson (second from right). Capone is at the Atlantic City sitdown and is forced by other gang leaders in attendance to make amends for the bad press and heat the Chicago massacre has brought upon the thriving gang operations in Chicago and other parts. Capone agrees to take a powder in a Philadelphia movie theatre on an arranged gun toting charge, and spends up to a year in jail for the heat to die down. Originally taken in Atlantic City, (note the distinctive wood slats of the boardwalk as compared below) in May of 1929, this photo later surfaced in two consecutive editions in 1930, the first one with Enoch Johnson's appearance purposely missing to give readers a guess at who the mystery gangster was.
Read the story about the Atlantic City conference here
Much hoopla on this photo has been raised over the years by some mafia academic types out there, the ones who constantly knock down others people's work, just to advance their own agenda, whether it be websites or books. They question the provenance of this photo. They seem hell bent on it not being real as to keep their theory of who was actually at the Atlantic city meeting, or as if there wasn't any Atlantic City meeting at all.
Was it nationwide with all the gang heads there? Or was it simply a Chicago thing? Capone himself makes reference once interrogated after being arrested at a Philadelphia movie house.
Excerpt from The Pittsburgh Press May 17,1929.
Philadelphia Public Safety Director Major L.B. Schofield recounts his discussion with Al Capone after his arrest in Philadelphia.
(Chicago Tribune May 18, 1929).
It was taken in May 1929, but that it only showed up incognito a year later. Al Capone was there to get away from the heat in Chicago and was attending a meeting. He was probably told by other heads there that the violence shown by the massacre in Chicago was getting totally out of hand. There would be certain retribution by the gang or Government, if something is not done now. He was to take a fall, which would be arranged in Philadelphia. We do know that Al had hosted Charles "Lucky" Luciano, Ciro "The Artichoke King" Terranova, Frank Costello and others at his Miami home right before heading to Atlantic City. There are silent home movie clips and photos of Al hanging around pool side with these organised crime figures at his 93 Palm Island Avenue home.
Back to the famous photo. Now why didn't all the major newspapers run it back then?
Depends who took the shot and when it saw the light of day.
The President Hotel where Al Capone and other Chicago gangsters were lodged after being refused accomodations at another hotel.
Enoch "Nucky' Johnson stepped in and lodged them here.
Which newspaper photographer in his right mind would like to feel the immediate wrath of all these gangsters by showing this photo, and claiming crime connections to it? Remember Hal Andrews and X Marks the Spot magazine? He was smart enough to print his mag incognito, as this was done for fear of being killed. I was questioned by one of these academic types as to how did I assume this was the Atlantic city boardwalk in the said photo?
It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to compare the wood slats in the photos below. Still some of these who think they are mightier than all of us claim the photo is faked. I don't think photoshop was invented in the late twenties or thirties. But seriously, what would be the exact purpose of faking this particular shot anyway? Especially back then? The key answer in the photo as being real is in the headline above the photo. "THIS COMPLETES THE PHOTO"
The interior of the President Hotel
I think people assume it's fake because the photo was manipulated to block off certain person's heads and bodies in the first addition. The Evening journal had made a sort of guessing game of the photo in the first edition, whiting out the face of Al and Nucky giving readers a chance to guess who the famous gangsters might be in the photo. In the second edition, they unveiled the whole photo. Now if someone came across the whited out or masked outline version of the photo today they might assume it was a fake or made up, but in fact it was just bad photolithograpy, which is something I'm very familiar with having worked in that domain for years.
September 16,1931, Asbury Park Press newspaper story in which Democratic Representative William H. Sutphin accuses David Baird Jr. of aligning himself to Atlantic City G.O.P. leader Enoch Johnson, who once was photographed with gangster Al Capone.
A vintage coat hanger from The President Hotel. The hotel went through various changes through the decades before closing in the 1970's. Apartments with additions such as a Motor hotel (Motel). Interesting note was that the word "Motel" made it's first appearance in 1925, getting it's start in California.
(Mario Gomes collection).
My opinion is that the photo is entirely 100% real. The photo has appeared in two 1930 editions of the New York Evening Journal, was mentioned in a 1941 Newspaper (SEE BELOW) with Nucky Johnson himself stating he was taken in a photo with Al Capone in Atlantic city, and it was shown in the Chicago Crime Commission's excellent "Friend or Foe" book. It was finally shown in whole, for the first time in Biography magazine. The original photo is out there somewhere and owned by someone (I was told that much by a librarian in the past) so whomever feels like doing the research is welcomed to go ahead. I personally won't because to me, it simply is what it is, a meeting in Atlantic city. Now you can be the judge.
Click on link below for whole story on Enoch Johnson with the reference to photo with Capone.
August 2, 1941, out of Enoch Johnson's own mouth, reference story of the Atlantic city photo in the
North Adams Transcript, North Adams, Massachusetts.
In the May 2001 issue of Biography magazine, the original black and white photo resurfaced and was reprinted for a bio on Al Capone and Chicago. (Badfella: The Life and Crimes of Al Capone).
(Shot taken from Biography magazine to demonstrate real photo. The photo spread is two pages, which is why there is a crease at the end of photo where staples are situated).
Atlantic city boardwalk postcard circa 1900
(Mario Gomes collection).
Atlantic City boardwalk early 1900 showing the distinctive wood slats.
You be the judge.