The Capones: Tour Al Capone's Chicago
01.23.14 by Ryan
Al Capone was born in Brooklyn, but his name is synonymous with Chicago. Not long after moving to the Windy City, Capone would soon become its most infamous citizens, and his legacy remains rooted there. In ReelzChannel's upcoming, reality docuseries The Capones, audiences will be able to catch up with the latest generation of the Capone family as they follow Dominic "Dom" Capone's attempts to run his restaurant and keep his sanity while being surrounded by an eclectic crew, including his mother Dawn, girlfriend Staci, ex-girlfriend "Cherry Lips" and swooning, crooning, philosophizing Uncle Lou. However, prior to seeing how the current Capones are faring in the Windy City on their Tuesday, January 28th debut, we thought we take a tour of Al Capone's Chicago.
Get to know the family
The Green Mill Lounge
Started in 1907, this Uptown landmark has seen some of the finest jazz musicians and singers walk through its doors, as well as a few unsavory characters, due to its presence as a speakeasy during Prohibition. Jack "Machine Gun" McGurn, a member of Capone's outfit, owned a stake in the Green Mill, which brought Capone in, despite the mobster owning his own speakeasy in a basement across the street.
Capone's favorite seat was in a booth at the end of the bar, with full view of the entrance so Capone could keep track of who was coming in at all times. Capone's favorite singer at the Green Mill was Joe E. Lewis, but when Lewis took a more lucrative offer at the New Rendezvous Club in downtown, McGurn had his men slash Lewis' throat, cut off part of his tongue and leave him for dead. Lewis survived and found a new career in comedy, and the entire incident was commemorated in a large, wooden carving that hangs over the bar as well as the 1957 movie The Joker is Wild. The Green Mill remains one of Chicago's popular bars and venues, even welcoming in a new era of the Capone family.
2122 North Clark Street
On Valentine's Day, 1929, seven men were executed at gunpoint at this address, which, at the time, was for a garage used by Capone's North Side rival George "Bugs" Moran. Intended as a way to eliminate both Moran and his top Lieutenants, the crime became one of Capone's most notorious deeds, though he was never convicted or charged with having anything to do with the crime. While Moran was not gunned down that day (he was running late and fled the scene when he saw the police car Capone's men were using as part of their ruse), the incident cemented Capone's ruthless reputation.
The Clark Street garage was demolished in 1967, though not before the infamous wall inside the garage where the execution took place was sold to the highest bidder. Today, the address is nothing more than a vacant, fenced-in lawn housing several trees, while the brick wall can now be seen at the Mob Museum located in Las Vegas, Nevada, where it was reconstructed, bullet holes and all.
The Lexington Hotel
One of several Capone hideouts, The Lexington Hotel was later discovered to have at least ten secret tunnels, one that led to the old Metropole Hotel so Capone could make a hasty exit if the need arose. An entrance to a secret stairwell was located behind his medicine cabinet, one of a dozen such secret stairwells located in the hotel.
The Lexington became a historic landmark in 1985 and the promise of unknown fortunes stored away in the vaults found in the hotel's secret passageways led Geraldo Rivera to open one (albeit an empty one) on a national television. However, in spite of its landmark status, the building was demolished in 1995. In its place stands a giant apartment building.
7244 Prairie Avenue
Capone purchased this South Side two-flat home in 1923 for $5500, and its where his wife Mae, widowed mother Teresa, his son and his younger siblings lived. While Capone would continue to maintain other residences, Teresa continued to occupy the home until her passing in 1952.
In 1924, Capone's brother Frank was shot to death after opening fire on the police while he and Al were trying to "help" an election for a mob-friendly candidate in the Chicago suburb of Cicero. Frank's funeral was held in Capone's Prairie Avenue house, and the Capone brothers helped win the election for their candidate.
Capone's Restaurant and Pizzeria
Owning a restaurant has been a long-standing tradition in the Capone family. Al began several soup kitchens after the 1929 stock market crash, and his sister, Malfalda, owned a deli in the South Side until she retired in 1965, selling the business to a Chicago restauranteur Tom Fox Sr. "She said, 'Don't worry, I'll make you an offer you can't refuse,'" Fox told The Chicago Tribune in 1994.
Dom Capone continues that tradition with his restaurant, located in the Lombard suburb of Chicago. Whether or not Dom is continuing on with the other family business is anyone's guess.