It’s no secret that the mob was linked with the establishment of the city of Las Vegas as it is today. The history of both the city and some of the better known hotels in Las Vegas
is strewn with some of the most recognizable mob names imaginable. Although this was previously considered to be a weak point in the evolution of the city, it has been embraced in recent years. This is in large part due to the opening of the Mob Museum in the heart of Downtown Las Vegas. This uniquely Vegas museum breathes history, including everything inside, along with the building in which it is houses.
One of the most exciting aspects of the Mob Museum is the corresponding history of the building
where it is located. Falling perfectly in line with the rich history of the entire Downtown area, The Mob Museum was originally both the U.S. Post Office and courthouse and was opened in 1933. Although it was not primarily used as a courthouse for several years after opening, in 1950 the building gained notoriety for holding one of the Kefauver Committee Hearings.
The famed hearings, led by Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver, were to investigate organized crime in interstate commerce. Although these hearings took place across the country and were intended to investigate organized crime in general, it became clear the mob connections in Las Vegas were front and center. The courtroom on the second floor of the museum, where testimony was heard for these hearings, has been restored to its original glory. The building was sold to the city in 2002 with the agreement that it be preserved and used as a museum.
The idea of the museum was proposed by the Mayor of Las Vegas, and well-known mafia criminal defense lawyer, Oscar Goodman, as a way to tell the complicated story of organized crime in society.
Officially known as the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement
the museum is an interactive journey using a vast collection of exhibits to tell true stories. The underlying theme of the museum is how mobsters led to the rise of the city and how law enforcement led to their eventual downfall.
Exciting Exhibits & Artifacts
One of the most anticipated exhibits in the museum is the restored second floor courtroom where visitors can see video clips of the actual Kefauver hearings that were broadcast to Americans during the time. There are also plenty more interactive exhibits to visit including a wiretapping display, a firearms simulator and an audio visual panel where you can see FBI testimonies.
The most valuable and exciting artifact in the entire museum, however, is the blood stained and bullet battered brick wall where the infamous Chicago Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre took place. Some of the other notable artifacts include the sunglasses worn by Bugsy Siegel on the day of his death, the white suit famously worn by John Gotti during court appearances and a 1919 World Series ticket showing the game has been fixed.
Those who curated the amazing artifacts for this one-of-a-kind museum clearly spared no expense in securing artifacts from some of the most well-known names in organized crime. There are rare items from Al Capone, Charlie Luciano, Tony Spilotro, George Moran, John Gotti, Bugsy Siegel, Carlo Gambino, Edgar Hoover, Estes Kefauver, Eliot Ness, Rudy Giuliani and many more.
This unique museum is a must visit next time you find yourself looking for something interesting to do in Downtown Las Vegas. You are sure to leave the museum with a great understanding of how organized crime infiltrated American culture and society during these times.