Mob Museum promoted on anniversary of hearings
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Officials are using the 60th anniversary of the Kefauver hearings on organized crime to promote a museum under construction in Las Vegas.
The Mob Museum, officially known as the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, will be housed in the federal building where the Nov. 15, 1950, hearing in Las Vegas was held.
The courtroom where the hearing took place will be the centerpiece of the museum, which is expected to open sometime next year, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
It was the seventh of 14 hearings across the country organized by the U.S. Senate Special Committee to Investigate Organizef Crime in Interstate Commerce led by Sen. Estes Kefauver, D-Tenn.
“It was the first time that the public was being advised of the possibility that organized crime existed in the United States,” Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said.
Interest was high in the hearings, with more than 30 million people tuning in to the new technology of television to watch a live, national news event.
Elsewhere, the hearings led to crackdowns on illegal gambling. But in their wake, the Las Vegas Strip underwent one of the largest construction booms in its history.
According to one estimate, the mob had invested $300 million in Las Vegas, roughly $2.1 billion in today’s dollars, by 1962.
The courtroom, on the second floor of the Stewart Avenue building, will be restored to its condition at the time of the hearing, said Dennis Barrie, the museum’s creative director.
The rest of the museum will feature exhibits on money laundering, mafia violence and the role organized crime played in Las Vegas and other cities across the country.
“It’s a history of the American Dream that hasn’t been told before,” Barrie said.
The building, built between 1931 and 1933 as Hoover Dam’s construction was starting, served as both a courthouse and post office during its life as a federal building.
“The building really is a great symbol of federal authority,” said Paul Westlake Jr., a planning and architecture consultant working on the museum. “The government needed a presence in the area.”