Tag Archives: Criminals

Where Did The Saying “Up The River” Come From?

A Movie Cliche’s New York Origins

If you ever watch any gangster films from the 1930’s or 40’s, one of the lines of dialogue that always pops up is: “up the river.”

Somebody would utter it: a criminal; prosecutor; police officer; or a fellow gangster. Listen and it will be said in most of these early crime movies.

Lines like:

“Didn’t you hear, Rocky’s going up the river.”

“If you don’t talk Ike, I can guarantee you’re going to spend a long stretch up the river.”

“I’m not takin’ the fall to go up the river for a heist you did, Spats.”

The term “up the river” as most people know refers to going to prison.

So where did the saying come from?

In the 1800’s, when you were charged with a crime and sent to prison in New York City, the accused would first be taken to the prison on Centre Street in lower Manhattan which was known as “the Tombs” built in 1838.

The Tombs were so named because the original structure had large granite columns on the outside of the building which  resembled Egyptian burial architecture, a.k.a. tombs. The Tombs though, were merely a holding prison for the accused criminals awaiting trial.

After sentencing, convicts were sent to a prison on Blackwell’s Island (today known as Roosevelt Island) in the middle of the East River.

However if you were a habitual offender or committed a very serious offense, you would be sent thirty miles north, up the Hudson River to Sing Sing prison. This is the origin of the phrase being sent, “up the river.” Sing Sing separated the hardened criminals from the run of the mill pickpockets, burglars and ordinary thieves.

Even though, the term “up the river” originally referred to Sing Sing, it was eventually applied to anyone being sent to any prison.

Squealer’s End

What Happens To Squealer’s

This is not The Sopranos or The Godfather.

75 years ago, gangsters did really nasty things to you, if you talked to the cops.

The back of this Acme news photograph sums it up:

Trussed from head to foot, the body of Samuel Silverman is examined by Deputy Medical Examiner Romeo Auerbach. The victim was found in a car parked in Brooklyn, N.Y. with three bullets in his skull. Police believe Silverman was killed for “putting the finger” on other men involved in a hold up, for which he was out on bail.  July 16, 1937

Silverman , 25, who lived at 869 Hopkinson Avenue, Brooklyn, was found in front of 324 East 91st Street, Brooklyn on July 15, 1937. The body was discovered at 5 pm by a youth who happened to glance inside the parked car.

Silverman had been arrested Continue reading

Reaching A New Low in Identity Theft

Woman Steals Identity of 8-Year-Old Girl Killed in an Auto Accident 30 Years Ago

This story out of Delray Beach, Florida confirms that identity thieves are the scum of the earth.

Juliet Sherry-Ann Smith Mahabir the “alleged” identity thief, was caught when the Florida Division of Insurance Fraud received a tip that Mahabir had “fraudulently obtained” a U.S. Passport.

Yes, besides being an identity thief, Mahabir is apparently an illegal alien.

I can only imagine what the deceased girl’s family whose identity Mahabir stole must be feeling.

After reading this – I have only two questions:

1- Why was she released on such low bail?

2- She is an illegal alien – shouldn’t she be deported?