Today In History – February 14

Valentine’s day is usually thought of as a day when roses get delivered, and candy gets consumed in an amount that rivals Halloween. Those who love the holiday love it to an extreme amount, while those that hate it do so to a terrifying extent. If you were alive for Valentine’s Day in 1929, you would hope to be anywhere but in Chicago. On February 14, 1929, the notorious Al Capone masterminded the infamous Valentine’s Day Massacre.

At ten thirty in the morning, four men entered the Lincoln Park garage where members of Chicago’s North Side Gang were congregated. Not much is known about the details of the event, but we can assume that Capone’s men overpowered the seven members inside the garage. We do know that they were lined up against the wall and shot. The victims of this crime were Peter Gusenberg, a frontline enforcer in the Moran gang; Frank Gusenberg, Peter’s brother and fellow enforcer; Albert Kachellek, Moran’s second in command; Adam Heyer, bookkeeper and business manager of the gang, Albert Weinshank, business associate to Moran, and John May, mechanic for the gang. It is believed that Albert Weinshank’s appearance was so similar to Bug Moran’s that the attackers began before Moran arrived, which probably was not part of the plan. Contrary to many Hollywood-produced films, Al Capone was not at the crime scene.

Two of the shooters were dressed as cops, which made for an easy getaway. After the crime was committed, the two shooters not dressed as cops were put in handcuffs and led out of the garage at ‘gunpoint.’ By the time real cops got to the scene, the suspects were long gone.

Although the crime itself is crucial and should never be forgotten, there is a significance behind the crime that is also very imperative. When we look at the 1920s from a modern-day standpoint, we generally remember the elegant flappers and the booming economy. Yet, this was not the reality of the time. In the 1920s, the economy was falsely booming, and prohibition was in full swing. Prohibition brought a rise in what we call speakeasies. These were illegal bars owned by crime lords like Al Capone. It has been estimated that there were about thirty-two thousand illegal speakeasies in New York City alone. Events like the Valentine’s Day massacre exemplify how terrifying these times could be.

Valentine’s day is celebrated by many, but we must never forget the people who have been taken from us on this day of love.

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