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Did Al Capone Care About His Fellow Chicagoans?

Al Capone, notorious for his criminal empire, paradoxically showed care for fellow Chicagoans during tough times, like opening soup kitchens during the Great Depression. Yet, his philanthropy was shadowed by the violence he orchestrated. Did his actions stem from genuine concern or strategic image crafting? Discover the complex layers of Capone's relationship with Chicago—where does his true legacy lie? Continue reading to explore.

It's well known that Al Capone was a notorious gangster who led organized crime in Chicago during Prohibition, but that doesn't mean he didn't have a heart.

Coming to the aid of thousands in Chicago who struggled to survive the depths of the Great Depression, Capone opened a soup kitchen that served three free meals a day to anyone willing to stand in line. Capone's staff didn't ask for any money or proof of need, nor did anyone get turned down when they came back for more.

During the Great Depression, gangster Al Capone started a soup kitchen in Chicago that provided thousands of free meals every day.
During the Great Depression, gangster Al Capone started a soup kitchen in Chicago that provided thousands of free meals every day.

"He couldn’t stand it to see those poor devils starving, and nobody else seemed to be doing much, so the big boy decided to do it himself," one of Capone's men told a Chicago newspaper. While daily customer numbers reached just over 2,000 on average, the crowd grew to 5,000 on Thanksgiving in 1930. However, because someone -- not Capone -- had stolen 1,000 turkeys from a local seller, Capone wanted to let the city know it wasn't him, so he served beef stew instead.

Capone's generosity came to an end in late 1931, when he was sent to jail for tax evasion.

Surprising facts about "Scarface":

  • Estimates put Capone and company's yearly earnings from criminal activities -- bootlegging, gambling, and more -- at approximately $100 million USD.

  • Capone turned to the mob after getting kicked out of school at the age of 14 for hitting a teacher; he never went back.

  • Capone handed out business cards that cited his occupation as a used furniture dealer.

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    • During the Great Depression, gangster Al Capone started a soup kitchen in Chicago that provided thousands of free meals every day.
      During the Great Depression, gangster Al Capone started a soup kitchen in Chicago that provided thousands of free meals every day.