The Gangster Museum of America in Arkansas is filled with mob history

Thermal soaking waters of what was then known as America’s Spa City was not only a magnet for Texas oilmen, musicians like Duke Ellington and Elvis, baseball players like Babe Ruth and tourists who flocked to elegant establishments like the Hotel Como, where glazed white bricks were set back. with the word “Tiffany”, made by Leon Tiffany, brother of jeweler Louis Comfort Tiffany. It was also the favorite vacation destination for gangsters everywhere.

Al Capone first visited in the mid-1920s when he was Johnny Torrio’s right-hand man in Chicago; it is said that Capone would “take the waters” to treat syphilis which would eventually leave him deteriorating. Capone’s cohort Lucky Luciano made appearances, as did Baltimore gambling kingpin Julius Salsbury and brutal Owen Vincent Madden, aka Owney “The Killer” Madden. (He owned the New York City Subway. Besides, he killed a bunch.) Madden made his affair with Hot Springs permanent: After his second stint at Sing Sing, he was exiled from New York by the governor of New York. era, Franklin D. Roosevelt. He moved to the Arkansas town, eventually marrying the postmaster’s daughter and living out his days without violence in the South.

The gangsters came for peace. “The politics and the government here were so lax that they shielded them, because they came with a lot of money,” says Robert Raines, director of the Gangster Museum of America. “It was a safe place to meet, discuss business, have a good time and go back to rob a bank somewhere else and make more money.” He notes that there were no robberies in Hot Springs in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, because all the robbers were there on holidays.

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