Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Mob

A fab new museum has just opened in the East Village in honor of the American mobster. The Museum of the American Gangster traces the Prohibition era and the role crime has played in shaping New York City.

The Museum is housed in a former "speakeasy" which belonged to gangster Frank Hoffman, one of the major importers of Canadian beer during prohibition. His office was housed under the speakeasy, so while he counted the cash with a cigar in his mouth, his business partner Walter Scheib was entertaining upstairs in a tux!

Highlights of the collection include original newspapers, documents and photographs from the prohibtion era, a Tommy machine gun found in the speakeasy when it was sold in the 60's and vintage whiskey bottles. Apparently when the owner's father bought the place in 1964, he stumbled upon 2 locked safes downstairs, one which had $2 million of gold currency inside! Its owner and origin are still a mystery. These safes are now on display, as is the barber chair from the Park Sheraton where a mob boss was whacked in 1957. Frank Sinatra once sang here as he waited on tables, Trotsky lived in the gallery space and infamous men with names like Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Al Capone all propped themselves up at one time along the mahogany bar, where bootleg booze flowed and so did the blood of their enemies. Riveting stuff!

Images: berg properties, museum of the american gangster

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