NYC - LES: 63 Hester Street
The Sweet Life, a candy and gourmet chocolate shop, has stood, ironically enough, on the site thought to be the birthplace of American organized crime since 1982. It was here that it is believed Meyer Lansky, a poor Polish immigrant, first met Charles “Lucky” Luciano, whom he eventually went on to form the National Crime Syndicate with. According to Luciano, their encounter came about when he and his gang tried to shake Lansky down for protection money. The diminutive Lansky, who grew to be only 5’4”, refused. “Ok, Little Man,” Luciano recalls telling Lansky. “You get your protection for free.” To which, Lansky snapped back “Shove your protection up your ass. I don’t need it.” This confrontation led to a mutual respect and ultimately one of the most successful friendships in the history of criminal activity. Another popular legend of the encounter say that Lansky was walking home from his apprenticeship as a toolmaker when he heard screams from a woman. When he went to investigate, he encountered a scuffle between a young Luciano and a 14-year old Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel fighting over the free services Siegel had been receiving from one of Luciano’s prostitutes. Lansky proceeded to aid Siegel and beat Luciano over the head with a monkey wrench. Lanksy never acknowledged or confirmed the story, but the known facts fit.