Sparks Steakhouse is a New York institution. Its been around since 1966 on East 46th Street near 3rd Avenue. It was also famously the location of one of the biggest mob hits in New York history. On December 16, 1985, Gambino Family boss Paul Castellano met his untimely end in front of the restaurant.
Castellano was an organized crime legend. The last of the old school mobsters, his life interwove the history of the Mafia. His sister was married to Carlos Gambino. Castellano was a capo under Murder Inc head Albert Anastasia. He was arrested at the famous Apalachin meeting where New York State Police raided a major organized crime meeting. When Carlos Gambino became head of his own family, he named Castellano the underboss. Castellano was Gambino’s successor after his death in 1975. He brokered a partnership with the westside Irish Mob as portrayed in the film State of Grace. Under Castellano, parts of the Gambino Family moved into less overt forms of crime. Parts of the organization went from gambling and prostitution and more into quasi legitimate ventures such as concrete supply and union management.
Castellano could not survive the youth movement inside organized crime. Younger mobsters such as John Gotti wanted to return to the older ways of organized crime and also move more heavily into the drug trade. Gotti determined that he needed to get rid of Castellano. On December 16, 1985, Castellano and his bodyguard and underboss Thomas Bilotti were walking into a meeting at Sparks. Gotti, who was watching from a car parked down the block, had arranged for a hit team to send Castellano to an early grave. The crew shot and killed Castellano and Bilotti. Gotti drove by to make sure the job was done right. Gotti was the new Gambino boss.