orig photo 1920-30s CHINATOWN gangs NYC Hip Sing Tong

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  • Item Category: Fine Art
  • Source: eBay
  • Sold Date: Nov 09, 2006
  • Channel: Auction House
original photograph

Identified on back:
"Death Follows Ten Year Truce in Chinatown"
One killed and three shot constituted the end of a ten year truce between
the On Leong Tong and the Hip Sing Tong in New York's Chinatown
on October 8th. Photo shows Chinese reading a Mott Street bulletin on which
are posted the names of merchants who belog to neither tong. These bulletins are
put up by the merchants as a guard on their own lives.
Your credit line must read : - By United

Handstamp on back:
This photo supplied by United Newspictures
461 Eighth Ave
New York City

Size: 8 x 10 inches

Buyer pays $3 shipping

Condition: Fair to Good
(very brittle, damage to lower left edge - see scan -
and some publication highlight greasepencil marks)


I'm not sure of the exact date of this event - 1920s-30s ?

I did find some online information about the early NYC Chinatown gangs :
Chinese migration to the United States began in the late 1840s. Until the 1880s, Chinese immigrants worked primarily in mining, railroad construction, and agriculture in the American hinterland, when changes in employment opportunities and racial tensions drove many to the cities w relative security was obtained in Chinatowns. The Chinatowns developed into important centers for prostitution, gambling and the sale and consumption of opium, partly in response to restrictive laws that, for example, curtailed the immigration of Chinese women, and partly due to the fact that also non-Chinese customers, especially from the working class, began to frequent the whorehouses, gambling joints, and opium dens run by Chinese entrepreneurs. The Chinese vice business was integrated into a larger system of protection and payoffs, involving Chinese protection racketeers, corrupt police and non-Chinese property owners who leased their land and buildings for exorbitant rents.

Originally, life within the Chinese communities was dominated by a few large family and district associations with restrictive membership. As a protective response to their dominance mutual aid associations, so-called tongs, emerged. The tongs adopted the norms and values of the Triad subculture. Their secretive nature, combined with the fact that they could recruit members without traditional restrictions, enabled them to overpower the family and district associations and to take on the social functions of arbitration, protection and exploitation in Chinatown. A tong is not a criminal organization per se, but a natural means of obtaining and using mutually obligate bonds (guanxi) for both criminal and non-criminal purposes.
In New York, two tongs competed for dominance, the On Leong Tong and the Hip Sing Tong. The On Leong Tong represented the interest of the elite in Chinatown. Its power lay in the social, economic and political status of its leaders. On Leong Tong President, Tom Lee, and other key members controlled the lucrative 'property rights' system associated with opium and gambling in Chinatown. The Hip Sing Tong was the power syndicate in Chinatown. Its power lay in the sizeable number of professional criminals within its ranks. Both tongs coexisted for roughly a decade tolerating each other. Then the Hip Sing Tong attempted to stake a more significant place in Chinatown's social system of organized crime, a move that would upset the social world of a number of Chinese organized criminals in the years to come. Tom Lee tried unsuccessfully to remove the Hip Sing leader Mock Duck from Chinatown via his allies in the criminal justice system. The Hip Sing in turn made efforts to increase its contacts outside the Chinese community and found an ally in Reverend Charles Parkhurst and his reform association, the Society for the Prevention of Crime. The Hip Sing Tong provided evidence to the Parkhurst Society's counsel, Frank Moss, so that he could bring indictments and prosecute cases against On Leong members.
The alliance with the reform movement changed the press coverage of the ...