TV programmes and filmes of notorious gangsters from yesteryear are rife. And the latest must-watch? Making of the Mob: Chicago, on AMC (BT TV channel 332/381 HD).
If catching a glimpse into gangster history on screen isn’t quite enough for you and you want to visit some ‘mob hotspots’ in real life, then you’re in luck, as it’s surprisingly easy to retrace the steps of some of history’s most famous felons.
Here are seven destinations to add to your ‘gangster history’ travel list:
1. Palermo, Sicily
In a move which has been considered by many to be controversial, Angelo Provenzano, the son of Bernardo Provenzano, regularly sits down with patrons of Overseas Adventure Travel to discuss life as the son of one of Italy’s most violent offenders – and one of the Mafia’s top bosses.
While locals have been left dismayed by this move, keen for their island to move on from its gangster reputation, rather than see it glamorised, this is undeniably a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those who can stomach it.
2. Sparks Steak House, Manhattan
The whole of New York City is steeped in fascinating criminal history, but it’s the mob and Manhattan which truly go hand in hand.
Take a trip to Sparks Steak House in Midtown – not only does it boast some of the most exquisite steak and seafood in the entire city, but the restaurant was the site of the brutal execution of American mafia boss Paul Castellano.
3. Little Italy, New York
A bustling hub of activity, Little Italy is former home to the Ravenite Social Club, the headquarters of the Gambino crime family during the 1970s and 80s.
The club is long since closed, and the building is now home to a high-end shoe store. However, you can still walk the same streets the gangsters once did, surrounded by artisan pasta places and rustic market stalls.
4. The Blackstone Hotel, Chicago
Stomping ground of the notorious Al Capone, Chicago is just as historically significant as New York when it comes to matters of the Mafia. Why not check yourself into the Blackstone Hotel?
The hotel offers a ‘Good to be a Gangster’ package for guests interested in criminal history, which includes two tickets for a gangster tour of the city. A former haunt of both of Capone and Lucky Luciano, a night under Blackstone’s roof is one that can’t be missed if you’re fascinated by the history of organised crime.
5. The Blind Beggar, London
The Kray twins’ legendary reign of terror over London’s East End during the 50s and 60s is a particularly iconic entry in British crime history. Grab a pint at The Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel, where Ronnie Cray shot and killed George Cornell, a member of rival gang, the Richardsons.
The venue continues to thrive, made famous by the murder on its grounds, and behind its understated exterior boasts an ornate beer garden and a menu of fancy hot dogs and burgers.
6. The Tower of London
Believe it or not, the Kray twins were among the last prisoners to be incarcerated in the Tower of London. They were held there for just a few days in 1952, after failing to report for national service.
The Tower has a rich history far more archaic than that of the Krays, and is an essential stop on any tourist’s journey around London.
7. Black Country Living Museum, Dudley
If you’re a fan of the hit television series of the same name, you’ll know that Birmingham was once ruled by the Peaky Blinders, a ruthless gang known for stitching razor blades into the peaks of their flat caps. Many of the scenes in the series are filmed at the Black Country Living Museum, an open air museum of reconstructed buildings resembling a Black Country town as it would have been in the era of the Blinders.
The site is populated by actors who play characters from the early-1900s and interact with tourists. Unfortunately, Cillian Murphy has yet to be seen taking up this role.
The Making of the Mob: Chicago begins on AMC Sunday 25th February at 9pm.
AMC is one of 60 premium channels available on BT TV along with other channels such as E!, Comedy Central, National Geographic and many more.
> BT TV customer? Head to channel 332 to watch AMC, or visit the BT Player