As the film Kill the Irishman elevates Collinwood native Danny Greene into
the pantheon of Hollywood gangster antiheroes, we look back at Greene's life story,
his legend, and the gloomy yet seductive era when Cleveland was Bomb City, USA.
"Kaboom!" The mural's red letters shout, and the explosion streaks across the building's facade in happy white and orange. Danny Greene lived here 36 years ago, until a bomb crashed through the downstairs window, and the 41-year-old gangster and his 18-year-old girlfriend rode the collapsing bedroom down like an elevator.
Collinwood has changed a lot since 1975, but the bohemian re-inventors of the Waterloo Arts District have found a way to pay homage to their street's incendiary moment in Cleveland history.
Right by the record store Music Saves, 15805 Waterloo Road is still a vacant lot, just like after the bombing, when Greene fenced it off, installed two trailers and raised the Irish flag. He sat outside sunning himself — shirtless to show off his broad, bronzed chest and the Celtic cross dangling from his neck — and, with a TV camera rolling, dared all his bomb-throwing enemies to come get him.
Cleveland Magazine stories have influenced every retelling of the city's 1970s mob wars in print and film. Here are four of our best pieces.
Why They Blew Shondor Birns Away, July 1975
On the eve of retirement, after bombing and shooting his way into the headlines for half a century, Cleveland's leading racketeer was murdered in a style he would have admired. Where do you begin to look for the killer of a man feared and hated by so many?
The Bombing Business, April 1977
A local underworld power struggle has made Cleveland the most explosive city in America. And bombs are being set all over town town — for every reason imaginable. One problem: Innocent people are being killed.