Are you ready to bring out your inner gangster? Three floors of gangster, that is.
Whether you’re intrigued with the bad boys like Bugsy Siegel and Al Capone or the heroes (FBI investigators and other law enforcement agencies), you’re going to love The Mob Musuem in Downtown.
I wasn’t really too familiar with the mob, although “A Bronx Tale” was one of my favorite movies as a kid. Whether we like to admit it or not, this part of history is intriguing, indeed.
While “A Bronx Tale” was a fictional story, it was fun to see the mob life through the eyes of an adolescent. In a way, walking through this museum was like witnessing all the dirty deeds without worrying about taking a bullet.
“The story of the mob is a story of America,” said curator Kathleen Barrie. “Through the interpretive program of the Mob Museum, visitors understand where the connections are, how organized crime, mob activity, and law enforcement ran parallel and then collided at certain points. It is a fascinating story that plays out through the museum experience.”
The experience begins with an elevator trip to the third floor, then flows down to the lower floors. The third floor re-creates a police department environment of the 1950s. You can even walk inside a police lineup booth. I personally liked all the emphasis on the law enforcement — the good guys! Mob busters include J. Edgar Hoover, Joe Pistone, Rudolph “Rudy” Giuliani, among others.
Don’t miss the second floor’s historic courtroom where the Kefauver hearings took place. You can take a seat on one of the benches and watch a video explaining the history about it.
Also on the second floor, you can listen in on actual wire taps, as well as read the steps on what it takes to be in the witness protection program.
There’s also a section that talks about other organized systems, including Yakuza, the Japanese crime lords.
Like to shoot? Here you can take your shot with a simulated Tommy gun. There’s even a section where it shows you how to become a “made” man.
There are some pieces at this museum that are sure to make your skin crawl. You’ll witness the electric chair where one of the mobsters got executed. You’ll also see the actual barber shop chair where another mobster was murdered.
The Vegas room is a lot of fun — you get to watch surveillance tapes of actual people cheating the tables. There’s also a room that explains what goes into the process of a “skim.”
The bottom floor features a Hollywood room, as well as an area where you can kick back and watch clips of Mafia-related movies. What a way to end your tour!
The Mob Museum is from the same folks who designed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. Even if you’re not a history buff, you’ll still enjoy yourself. There’s just so many interactive stations to look through, that I plan on making a second trip back myself.