The Mob Museum: Shedding Light on the Dark Mob History

Scarface. Does the term ring a bell? For sure, there are some of you who are familiar with it. After all, it is the nickname of one of the most notorious gangsters in the history of organized crime: Al Capone. So, why are we talking about Capone? Well, his life and his contributions to mob history are examples of what a museum in Downtown Las Vegas features. Located along 300 Stewart Avenue, The Mob Museum is the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. Basically, it presents mob history through interactive exhibits and artifacts. 

 

Al Capone The Mob Museum Las Vegas
Al Capone earned approximately $60 million annually from his bootlegging operations and speakeasies. Image courtesy of the Mob Museum’s website.

 

THE MOB MUSEUM IN LAS VEGAS

Initially, the building that houses The Mob Museum was the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse. Later in 2002, the federal officials sold the building to the City of Las Vegas for $1 under the condition that the building will be preserved as a cultural center. The mayor back then, who used to be a defense attorney of mobsters, suggested that the building feature mob history. In 2012, such idea materialized and the Mob Museum was opened.

The Mob Museum Building Las Vegas
The Mob Museum is located at 300 Stewart Avenue Downtown Las Vegas, NV. Image courtesy of The Mob Museum’s website.

THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ORGANIZED CRIME AND LAW ENFORCEMENT 

The Mob Museum features a total of nineteen exhibits. Some of the noteworthy stuff to look forward to in the exhibits are a wall featuring the most notorious gangsters, a 17-inch touch wall where you can find out the location of organized crimes today, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Wall, and many more!

100 Years of Made Men Exhibit of Mob Museum Las Vegas
100 Years of Made Men Exhibit of The Mob Museum located on its first floor. It features the most notorious mobsters in mob history. Image courtesy of The Mob Museum’s website.

In the first floor of the museum, there are two exhibits that will surely get you extra excited! These are the Crime Lab Experience and Firearm Simulator Training. The former is where you will be able to explore the work of professionals getting evidence to detect crime and the reason behind it such as DNA profilers and fingerprint analysts.

The Crime Lab Experience Exhibit The Mob Museum Las Vegas
The Crime Lab Experience Exhibit of The Mob Museum will let you explore the work of professionals such as Fingerprint Analysts. Image courtesy of The Mob Museum’s Website.

Only those 11 years old and above are eligible to enter the Crime Lab Experience. Additionally, a companion is required among those under 16 years old. The exhibit is open from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm.

The Firearm Training Simulator, on the other hand, is where you’ll discover the training that law enforcers go through to prepare themselves for situations where they need to use force. You will engage in both digital and live role-playing scenarios of this type of situations. You will hold a CO2 pistol and wear a police officer duty belt throughout the experience too! Pretty exciting, right?

Firearm Training Simulator Mob Museum Las Vegas
The Mob Museum holds Firearm Training Simulator. Image courtesy of The Mob Museum’s website.

Only those 16 years old and above can experience the Firearm Training Simulator. Additionally, minors need to present parental consent. The Firearm Training Simulator is available from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm.

THE UNDERGROUND

Thought that’s all there is to The Mob Museum? There’s more! The basement of the museum or more popularly called as The Underground holds two more exhibits: The Speakeasy and The Distillery. Both exhibits will take you in on an immersive experience of the Prohibition Era.

From the name itself, The Speakeasy is an exhibit that lets you experience the speakeasy or bars that illegally sells liquors during the Prohibition Era. Back then, speakeasies also served as an avenue for the rise of the jazz music style.

The Speakeasy Exhibit The Mob Museum Las Vegas
The Speakeasy Exhibit of The Mob Museum. Image courtesy of The Mob Museum’s website.

The Speakeasy exhibit includes a well-stocked bar, a stage, artifacts, videos, and much more! Of course, it wouldn’t be a speakeasy if you can’t taste the liquors of the Prohibition Era. So, yes, its bar is open for you! Here’s the menu for you to review.

Since alcohol is banned during the Prohibition Era, mobs either smuggled liquors or produced moonshine themselves. The Distillery features these stories. The main attraction of the Distillery is the copper still.

The Distillery Exhibit The Mob Museum Las Vegas
The Distillery Exhibit. Image courtesy of The Mob Museum’s website.

The Underground also holds events. It holds live jazz music events for a certain period each month. You may also book it for private events.

Oh, one more thing, before you even reach The Underground, you will already have a feel of the Prohibition Era because of the Alleyway, the way going to The Underground. Among many others, you will hear recordings of those who advocate and oppose the Prohibition as you go through it.

THE PROHIBITION ERA

It is inevitable and even crucial to discuss the Prohibition Era in tackling mob history. It is, after all, a time where mobs proliferated. One reference site even claimed that the period practically created mobs.

Liquor Smuggling Prohibition Era The Mob Museum Las Vegas
Smuggling of liquor during the Prohibition Era. Image courtesy of The Mob Museum and the Association of Former Customer Special Agents.

The Prohibition Era lasted from 1920 to 1933. It was indicated in the 18th amendment and enforced through the Volstead Act. It was the result of the strong call for temperance back in the early 20th century. The call was from women who claimed that alcohol is a strong contributor to the destruction of families and marriages, factory owners who wanted to increase the efficiency of their workers, and some religious groups. 

The mobs saw alcohol ban as an opportunity to earn money illegally. Mobs began bootlegging operations or the illegal manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcohol. They either smuggled liquors or produced liquor on their own. 

America also saw an increase in gang violence during the Prohibition Era. Mobsters were fighting against each other to remain at the top of the competition of liquor supplier. An epitome of this was the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

St. Valentine's Day Massacre Wall The Mob Museum Las Vegas
St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Wall located on the third floor of The Mob Museum. Image courtesy of The Mob Museum’s website.

These problems led to the declining support for the Prohibition Act. On 1933, Congress proposed a 21st amendment that would invalidate the 18th amendment or the Prohibition Act. It was approved before 1933 ended, marking the end of the 13-year Prohibition Era.

Some states continued the ban even after the 21st amendment was approved. Nonetheless, all states ceased the ban by 1966. 

The prohibition era led to many cultural changes. Some of them are the rise of jazz music, the advancement of women’s rights, and the prevalence of dating instead of courtship. 

BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW!

Indeed, the Mob Museum holds one of the darkest histories of America. Nonetheless, it is sometimes through looking back to the darkness of the past that we appreciate the light of the present much more. See, taste, and learn the past in an exciting way. Book your tickets to the Mob Museum now!

The Mob Museum is open from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. The Underground, on the other hand, is open from 9:00 am until midnight. For early closures of the museum, check out this link.  

The Hammargren House of Nevada History

The house of Lonnie Hammargren, a former two-term Lieutenant Governor of Nevada and a retired neurosurgeon, is a remarkable tourist attraction in Las Vegas. It is impossible for someone who lives or pays a visit to Las Vegas to miss the Hammargren House of Nevada History.

Home to Three Houses

Hammargren’s abode is a sprawling estate. It measures to 12,000-square-feet and it is home to three houses. Every room in each of the house is themed. It is also beaming with artifacts from around the world. Eventually, Hammargren’s abode became known as a museum that showcases the history of Las Vegas.

Hammargren bought the first home, which he refers to as Castillo del Son (Castle of the Sun), in 1972. He outfitted it for two reasons: to look like the Palace of the Governor found in the Mayan Ruins and to function as a planetarium and observatory. Hammargren used to host a huge feast for Nevada Day, making the first home open for a tour for years.

One of the things you’ll see in Lonnie Hammargren’s Museum Home. Photo courtesy of Yelp’s review of Lonnie Hammargren’s Museum Home.

Besides being known as a NASA flight surgeon, a bronze star-winning Vietnam flight surgeon, and an earner of five academic degrees, Lonnie Hammergren is also known now for his odd collections. CNNMoney described Paradise Castle as the “only place in the world where you can find an Apollo space capsule, a dinosaur skeleton, Liberace’s staircase, the Batmobile, and a full-size Venetian gondola.”

He moved into the first home at 4218 Ridgecrest Drive, close East Flamingo and Sandhill streets in 1971 and later extended his accumulation into the neighboring property. TV’s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous has featured his home.

Hammargren’s House, A Hidden Gem

The home goes by at least three names — the Castillo del Sol, the Hammargren Home of Nevada History, and the Paradise Castle. Dr. Hammargren considers his stead its very own country and gives guests false gold coins with his face on them.

One of the reasons why the Hammargren home has remained such a hidden gem is because it’s difficult to describe what it is. Hammargren’s property is predominantly occupied by items from old Vegas casinos, an interior dome of a hotel wedding chapel, an Egyptian tomb (where he plans to be buried in someday) and Evel Knievel’s motorcycle. There’s also a spirit house from New Guinea and replicas of famous landmarks like the Taj Mahal; an Apollo space capsule, a replica of the atomic bomb, life-size T-Rex, and movie props.

You’ll see a roller-coaster car from the Stratosphere in The Hammargren House. Photo courtesy of Yelp’s review of Lonnie Hammargren’s Museum Home.

The Collection

Signs from Vegas’ mobster heyday, casino-related artifacts like Popeye and Olive Oyl from the MGM Grand theme park, a roller-coaster car from the Stratosphere, and the Showboat’s paddlewheel are what comprise Hammergren’s collection.

In an episode of A&E’s Hoarders on December 18, 2016, Hammargren admitted that he and his wife, Sandy, were mired in $750,000 in debt and unable to pay the mortgage on their principal home, Castillo del Sol, where most of his accumulation stayed.

You’ll see signs and casino-related things in The Hammargren House. Photo courtesy of Yelp’s review of Lonnie Hammargren’s Museum Home.

Amazing Reviews

There are several reviews from Facebook, Trip Advisor, and Yelp. See what some people had to say about the Hammargren’s Home of Nevada History:

– Cheryl Adamson (Facebook)

“Dr. Hammargren has opened his personal house up to the public for tours once a year on Nevada Day for many years, for a small charitable donation. Last year, there was talk about it being the final year that he was opening it up for tours, but I am not sure if that is true or not — he is about 80 years old, and it is a huge intrusion into his personal residence, but he is the one who sent decades collecting all of the memorabilia and he loves to share it. It is an amazing place to visit. I’ve been there several times, and if it is open again this year, I’ll probably go again.”

– Mike45LC (TripAdvisor)

“We decided to check this place out with friends. Lonnie was walking around and saying hi to people. I recommend a quick visit when it is open once a year. This is a unique experience.”

– Greg K. (Yelp)

Dr. Hammargren still opens his home to the public on Nevada Day weekends (the last weekend of October) to show off his collection, but take note that his collection is now housed at 4300 Ridgecrest Drive. For a private tour, contact him at (702) 596-6669. According to reviews, entrance fee to the Hammargren Home of Nevada History ranges between $15 to $25 per person.

National Atomic Testing Museum

Las Vegas – famous for being the “Sin City”, is known for all its glitz and glamour. It is home to intricate and sophisticated themed hotels and dazzling festivities. How about taking a detour from the glamorous casinos to learn about the other history of Vegas? Learn more about the National Atomic Testing Museum.

Experience Nevada’s Explosive History

The National Atomic Testing Museum is a national science, history and non-profit educational institution. It is located at 755 East Flamingo Rd. in Las Vegas. The museum discloses the story of America’s nuclear weapons testing program at the Nevada Test Site. It has displays of collection-based illustrations and learning activities for the public to appreciate the world that we are all living in.

The National Atomic Testing Museum’s interiors in Las Vegas

The Museum opened its doors to the public in 2005. It has a collection of over 3500 artifacts, including thousands of rare photos, videos, scientific and nuclear reports, and data. The visitors will learn about world events leading up to the foundation of the Nevada Test Site. They will also discover its advancement from the above-ground tests to underground tests and non-nuclear activities.

Even kids learn and have fun at the National Atomic Testing Museum

They will get to contemplate on the history of atomic testing and its importance to national and international security and stability. Tourists will see a replica of the Control Point where the countdown was conducted before each nuclear detonation. What’s more exciting is they will get to experience a simulation of a Ground Zero Theater, an impersonation of an above-ground test.

Atomic Era

From Atomic Age, also known as the Atomic Era – the period of history following the detonation of the first nuclear “atomic” bomb during World War II, to the scientific and technological advances, the institution emphasizes 70 years of nuclear testing. To the end of the Cold War to the beginning of the Global War on Terror, the Museum amazingly depicts the cultures of the said eras. Not just that, it honors the nation’s Cold War-era veterans.

When to Come to the Museum

This Museum is entirely different from the usual ones because of what it fascinatingly caters to the public. They are open from Monday to Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM and on Sunday from 12 PM to 5 PM, except on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. General Adult Admission is just $22, $16 for ages 7 to 14 and free for ages 6 and below.

Use the Lessons of the Past to Better Understand the Present

So if you’re planning to visit, you’ll be saving more if you’ll get to bring your family and loved ones. Not just to feast your eyes on the exhibits but to learn and get to use the lessons of the past to better understand the present. It also has a store which features interesting products that can be bought home as a token.

So what are we all waiting for? Come and visit this one-of-a-kind museum for all the captivating stories it has in store for us all. Its history is rich and is as relevant today as it was nearly 70 years ago! It’s relaxing to visit places like this once in a while for it’s totally different from our everyday hustle and bustle.

 

Pinball Hall of Fame

See the World’s Largest Pinball Collection

This might be one of the most unique arcades in Las Vegas for it features over 200 different pinball games. It interestingly has some of the classic video arcade games and other past and present souvenir machines. We all know that pinball is an arcade game where a player controls one or more steel balls inside a pinball table. So imagine seeing more than a hundred of those glass-covered cabinets at the Pinball Hall of Fame!

The big sign on the road of Pinball Hall of Fame

But how did it start? It was Tim Arnold of Michigan who dreamt of it back in 1972, when he was just 16 years old. He was an avid pinball player and knew all the strategies of the game when he bought his first pinball. The kids in the neighborhood wanted to play it and being the “investor” that he was, he charged 10 cents per game in his garage. He eventually made it fancier and put his machine out in public for coin play.

He bought more used games and learned to renovate and put them out in grocery stores and laundry mats for coin play. After four years, he opened Pinball Pete’s in Lansing as a large pinball arcade which grew in popularity. By 1982, Tim and his brother a.k.a his partner were scooping up quarters into five gallon pails and taking them to the bank.

Collection of Nearly a Thousand Pinball Machines

His collection of nearly a thousand pinball machines made him move to Vegas and decided to help the less fortunate in his community. But he wouldn’t trade his collection because the distributor would only give them $50 credit in exchange for an old game. So he made a choice of just keeping all the machines, which is one of the largest collections in the world.

The Shed and Fun Night

He made use of his house, garage and tennis court for him to store and restore the games. After almost a decade, all the games were moved into a 10,000 square foot building that he built next to the tennis court which he called “The Shed” and where “Fun Night” started where he had pinball parties which grew bigger and bigger that they can no longer handle the number of people coming.

Passion to Help Charities

Tim also did other things to help local charities. He would travel around the country to conduct raffles and sell pinball-related items to raise money. He would buy, restore and operate his own games, where all proceeds went into a fund. Now he’s using his pinball machines in making money for charity for which his dream became a reality. Then came the idea of opening the Pinball Hall of Fame.

Some of the Pinball Machines you’ll see at Pinball Hall of Museum

Las Vegas is known for the bizarre, the eccentric – which is why Pinball Hall of Fame is a perfect fit! It is a non-profit corporation, open to the public which is all pure pinball. Not only that the entire family can see them but can enjoy non-violent arcade games, machines that deliver fun!

So if you’re looking for a tourist spot in Las Vegas, consider this as one! Just don’t forget to bring a bunch of pennies for young ones and kids-at-heart will surely enjoy this one-of-a-kind attraction!

The Neon Boneyard

Most of the time, even the mention of going to a Boneyard scares people away. No one would probably want to accept an invitation to such place. But this particular boneyard in Las Vegas, The Neon Boneyard, may be the one that changes their mind.

The Neon Backyard’s Facade

It started out merely as an attempt to refurbish old neon signs in 1996 then it turned out to be one of the most iconic tourist attractions that Las Vegas now has to offer. The Neon Boneyard showcases a collection of neon signs from various places all around the city. It highlights the culture and identity of the city and its people.

When the year 2005 came, the La Concha Hotel became its official museum visitor center and since then, the museum just kept on growing. It is divided into three different kinds of exhibits: the North Gallery (featuring Brilliant!), the Main Boneyard and the Boneyard Park, a long walk yet a wondrous sight awaits all its guests.

The City’s Most Iconic Art Form in Las Vegas

As it grows, more and more people become a part of the establishment. Different signs and ephemera are collected throughout the city. Each sign is refurbished and creatively placed in the museum. Different artists are given the opportunity as well to let loose their creative talents. They create pieces that will be hosted in special exhibits.

The amazing signs at the Neon Backyard

Ideally, the museum attempts to keep in touch with the trends of today while still incorporating their pieces from 1996 to the present. It is their beautiful way to bring back the old, fix the broken and remind everyone that the past is not always a sight for sore eyes.

Guests and tourists are given the opportunity to choose how they want to go around the museum. You can go with a guide, by yourself or on a limited-access only. Reviews from past visitors highly encourage night visits. After all, it is in the dark that we can appreciate more the light. Given that fact, the darkness of the night sky indeed gives the exhibits the spotlight during tours and visits.

Not Just a Museum

The museum also offers areas within that can be used for parties, weddings, photo shoots, educational trips, and other events.

It caters all sorts of different events that will not only give each bright lights but also great photos to remember.

Some may say that it is just a collection of old things – vintage at the very least, but old nevertheless. What they fail to realize is that each sign exhibits the image of the city. Telling a story about when and where it was from, who created it, who inspired it and what it contributed to the city. Each has a historical artifact that will leave tourists and locals alike in awe.

Taking pictures of unique pieces of art at the Neon Backyard is a photographer’s sanctuary

Walk Towards Memory Lane

Ultimately, may the experience be a walk towards memory lane or a stroll through new sights. It might be hard to stay true to: “what happens here, stays here”, because a visit in the Neon Boneyard will surely be a story to tell and share with everyone.