Gangs of Old Shanghai: The 'Friends' of Riley

By Paul French, October 11, 2019

0 0

Following on from New York Times bestseller Midnight in PekingPaul French released City of Devils, a delve into the murky underworld of Old Shanghai. There were plenty of wrong'uns about, and a whole lot of bad blood between them. In this 'Gangs of Old Shanghai' series, French presents us with a who's who of old time organized crime, and quite the rogues gallery it is too.


The 'Friends' of Riley

Boss: Edward Thomas ‘Jack’ Riley
Base: The Manhattan Bar, Blood Alley, Rue Chu Pao San (Xikou Lu)

If there was ever a mobster who managed to charm all of Shanghai despite his sinful ways, then it was Jack Riley. One of the most wanted criminals in the US, he had fled to China and changed his identity, having burnt his fingerprints off with acid.

In Shanghai he became a King… the ‘Slots King.’ Jack Riley it was who introduced Shanghai – a city that loved to gamble anyway, anyhow, anytime – to the slot machine. And he made millions, a Tulsa orphan riding high on the Huangpu.

He set up a bar on the infamous Blood Alley called the Manhattan, and the Fourth Marines stationed in the city worshipped him. He formed a baseball team of nightlife hoods and criminals to play the Marines team. His crew – an assortment of wanted men, AWOL Marines and jumped ship sailors – called themselves the ‘Friends of Riley.’

He opened more bars for the Marine Corps, he bought into the more high end DDs chain of swank joints. He did it all on those millions of pennies going into the slot – the handle pulled, the fruit spins round, nothing comes out… and then they did it again, and again, and again. Jack Riley got richer and richer.

So rich he wanted a Badlands casino – but ‘Lucky Jack,’ as the papers dubbed him, didn’t have any class. Joe Farren did, so they teamed up – it was a dream team of Shanghai gangsterism that was to become its biggest nightmare...


To read about more Gangs of Old Shanghai, click hereFor more history stories, click here.

[Images courtesy of Paul French]

more news

Music-Filled Hainan International Tourism Event Held in Shanghai

The event was held at the Shanghai Himalaya Art Centre on November 7.

Gangs of Old Shanghai: The Spider Club Gang

A who's who of old time organized crime.

Gangs of Old Shanghai: The Lojnikoff Gang

A who's who of old time organized crime.

Gangs of Old Shanghai: The Hovans Gang

A who's who of old time organized crime.

Gangs of Old Shanghai: The Tipsy Gang

A who's who of old time organized crime.

Gangs of Old Shanghai: The Broadway Mansions Gang

A who's who of old time organized crime.

Gangs of Old Shanghai: The Red Rose Gang

A who's who of old time organized crime.

Gangs of Old Shanghai: The Velvet Sweetshop Gang

A who's who of old time organized crime.

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at Thats_Shanghai for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

7 Days in Shanghai With thatsmags.com

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday

Subscribe

Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's Shanghai!

Visit the archives

Get the App. Your essential China city companion.