The origins of the Mob in America can be traced to the urban ghettos of the late 19th century, where Irish, Italian and Eastern European Jewish immigrants struggled to survive amid poverty, overcrowding and discrimination. These immigrants could get only the most dangerous and low-paying jobs. A few of the new arrivals took shortcuts to the American dream, forming street gangs and crime syndicates, and engaging in robbery, extortion, counterfeiting and other illicit schemes. The rise of organized crime compelled law enforcement agencies to become more professional and sophisticated in their investigative techniques. Police often used lineups to help witnesses identify criminal suspects.
Start your journey in our lineup. You’ll be booked and hooked into our exhibits.
Organized crime branched out across America to form a national syndicate. Does your hometown have a link to the Mob?
The faces of early American mobsters were captured in lineups and headlines as they gave birth to criminal empires.
Many personality traits are shared by those who choose a life in organized crime.
“We’re bigger than U.S. Steel” –Meyer Lansky. Watch and see how the Mob was born in communities in America.
Joe Petrosino was an Italian police officer in New York who led the fight against organized crime. He was assassinated in Italy while investigating ties between the Sicilian and New York Mafia.
The seeds of organized crime bloomed amid the crowding and poverty of America’s immigrant-filled cities.
Invented in 1931, the Iron Claw is a type of handcuff used on a single wrist. This one was used by a New York City police officer.
These chips were used at illegal gambling establishments in the early 20th century. Casinos were popular in many communities and often Mob run.
Leather saps like this one were used by police officers in the early part of the 20th century to enforce the law with physical action.