Gangster Museum of America

Zoie Clift


Have you ever seen the
series Boardwalk Empire? Martin Scorsese is behind it and I’m loving it so far.
If you’ve seen a few episodes, you know Lucky Luciano and Al Capone both play
heavily in the story. While watching it, I started thinking about the state’s
ties to these historical figures. Their story here can be found at the Gangster
Museum of America in Hot Springs-the nation’s first gangster museum. The museum
highlights the stories of many notorious gangsters such as Lucky Luciano.
Luciano was an Italian-American gangster who, according to the FBI,
“organized” organized crime in the U.S. In many ways, he was the
inspiration for the character Don Corleone in The Godfather. He evaded arrest
and survived attempted assassinations only to meet his downfall while
vacationing in Hot Springs in 1936.

The city was well known as
neutral territory for gangsters from Chicago and New York who visited the town
to enjoy the baths and racing. In Chicago, Detroit, New York – when the FBI and
police were after criminals because of a robbery or murder – gangsters knew
where to go to find a safe haven. Hot Springs was a sanctuary from both
prosecution and enemies. When visiting, Al Capone and members of his mob
frequently occupied the entire fourth floor of the Arlington Hotel. During one
stay, as the popular story goes, Capone’s archenemy (Bugs Moran and his gang)
checked in to the Majestic Hotel, just one block away. Contrary to what one
would expect, there was neither conflict nor violence since both were on

The museum’s galleries host
photographic displays, audiovisual presentations and artifacts (such as
weapons) related to this era when the healing powers of the city’s hot mineral
baths attracted visitors from around the world. During this period, the city
was a popular destination for the rich and famous, drawing the likes of Babe
Ruth and Andrew Carnegie. According to Raines, the museum will tell the story
of a political dynasty and its ultimate upset. Visitors will get an inside look
at the lives of Owen Vincent Madden, the kingpin of crime in Hot Springs, as
well as Capone, Luciano, Frank Costello, Bumpy Johnson, Maxine Harris and many
others. The museum is located at 113 Central Ave and is open 10-6
Sunday-Thursday and 10-9 Friday and Saturday. More details can be found at


Posted in Travel Arkansas
2 comments on “Gangster Museum of America
  1. Steve Owen says:

    I haven’t had a chance to visit this museum..however there is an individual by the name of Frank Nash that was killed in either the Kansas City Massacre or Valentine’s Day shoot out. I do recall Machine Gun Kelly was one of his running buddies. Frank is buried in the large Maseleum in Linwood Cemetary in Paragould.

  2. Zoie Clift says:

    Thanks for the information Steve!

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