By Judy Berman
Did the mob once run Las Vegas? Some dispute that, but few would quibble about the explosive growth in Sin City as a result of the Mob’s presence.
This reputation is one that The Mob Museum in Las Vegas capitalizes on. The $42 million museum opened two years ago on Feb. 14, 2012.
That date is probably no coincidence. One of the artifacts on display on the third floor is the actual wall from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929.
A Chicago Tribune newspaper clipping reported that gunman dressed as policemen lined seven men of George “Bugs” Moran’s gang up against the whitewashed wall and gunned them down.
“It was the most infamous of all gangland slayings in America, and it savagely achieved its purpose – the elimination of the last challenge to Al Capone for the mantle of crime boss in Chicago.”
The way the museum tells it: “This is truly the underworld uncovered.” It’s billed as “An authentic exploration of the endless tug-of-war between organized crime and law enforcement.”
Last July, my husband and I spent more than two hours in the museum and, truthfully, we could have spent much more time there if we didn’t have a pressing engagement. (No. Forget the scene in Goldfinger when James Bond referred to a dead mobster who was entombed in a crushed car.)
On the second floor of the museum is the courtroom. This is the same federal courthouse where the 1950-51 Kefauver Committee hearings were held to expose organized crime. Here, you can see film clips of those hearings.
Longtime locals are fond of saying that Vegas was better when the Mob ran the casinos. They felt there was less crime and the mob took care of – policed – their own.
The tour quickly dispels that notion by showing some of the innocent bystanders who were rubbed out by those “connected” to the Mob – along with a few of the bad guys, of course. The focus is not just on the Mob that infiltrated Vegas nightlife, but on major cities throughout the U.S.
Some of the exhibits aren’t for the faint-hearted. There are gory ones that show what happens when you run into the wrong end of a gun. For example, you can see the barber chair that mobster Albert Anastasia was murdered in on Oct. 25, 1957, in Manhattan, New York.
You can listen in on authentic Mafia Omerta induction ceremony or to actual FBI surveillance tapes on wiretapping equipment.
For a more glamorized look of the mob, sit a spell in the theater room and watch clips from gangster movies.
Parting words from philosopher/mobster Al Capone, “You can get much further with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.” This quote is just one of the souvenirs I picked up from the gift shop at the Mob Museum.
Hey! They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. But I took an oath not to reveal it.
Not to be a Wiseguy, but you can get the total scoop on the cost of admission, hours and attractions at The Mob Museum’s web site: http://themobmuseum.org/
Movie Trailer: Casino with Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBjmiE1kf_Q
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Video: 60 Years: KLAS-TV Documents Mob’s Rise, Fall in Las Vegas http://www.8newsnow.com/story/22881346/60-years-klas-tv-documents-mobs-rise-fall-in-las-vegas
Main Photo: Las Vegas – Flamingo Road – Taken April 24, 2012, by curimedia http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/50/Flamingo_road%2C_Las_Vegas_%287314950038%29.jpg/640px-Flamingo_road%2C_Las_Vegas_%287314950038%29.jpg
Photo: Mob – The Skim at the Flamingo – my photo collection
Photo: The Mob Museum – Las Vegas – Wall of Mobsters – Taken Feb. 14, 2012 by Kremerbi http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/72/Las_Vegas_Mob_Museum_Wall_of_Mobsters.JPG/640px-Las_Vegas_Mob_Museum_Wall_of_Mobsters.JPG