Jack “Legs” Diamond was a notorious gangster and bootlegger in the Prohibition era. Born in Philadelphia in 1897, he moved to New York City as a teenager where he joined the infamous Hudson Dusters street gang and began a life of crime. Legs became closely allied with criminal kingpin Arnold Rothstein and developed a rivalry with infamous crime boss Dutch Schultz. Legs was something of a celebrity in his time and despite his vicious lifestyle and criminal deeds, the public seemed to love him. He was dubbed Legs because of his tendency to escape would-be assassins, and he survived at least 4 such attempts on his life.
Based in New York City, Legs did much of his business in the Catskills and other parts of upstate including Albany and Troy. He was involved in many nefarious activities such as bootlegging, racketeering, kidnapping and robbery. On December 18, 1931, Diamond’s luck finally ran out. While
hiding out in a rooming house on Dove Street in Albany, he was shot and killed. The official version of his death has Legs being shot in the head as he slept by rival gangsters, but this is still a subject of
controversy. In 1974, author William Kennedy quoted Albany Democratic party boss Dan O’Connell as saying that the Albany police-on his orders-executed Diamond. Albany was known for its intolerance of organized crime and this is very plausible. What is surprising is that O'Connell would openly admit to such a deed.
O' Albany by William Kennedy