Discover the ultimate American Roadtrip

Grit, Gangsters <strong>and Gasoline</strong>

Grit, Gangsters and Gasoline

New York - Illinois

From the gangs of New York to Capone’s Chicago, America’s East Coast has a notorious past that is just waiting to be discovered on a memorable US road trip. It’s a chance to take a step back in time for a tour of the Eastern seaboard’s hidden underworld. Get ready to check out Mafia hangouts, historic prisons, and even a bit of gangster art along the way.

Grit, Gangsters and Gasoline

Stop 1: St. Patricks Old Cathedral 1/12

St. Patricks Old Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral was New York’s first ever cathedral, with a fascinating history dating back to 1809. Spot the moody Gothic architecture inside and out. The religious building also offers movie fans the opportunity to enter a location right out of The Godfather – the baptism scene for the famous film was shot here. Outside the cathedral, the walled graveyard was used for a scene in Martin Scorsese’s movie Mean Streets.

263 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

http://oldcathedral.org/

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Grit, Gangsters and Gasoline

Stop 2: Sparks Steakhouse 2/12

Sparks Steakhouse

It’s worth a visit to Spark’s Steakhouse to sample one of its award-winning steak and lobster dishes. But another reason to experience ‘Manhattan’s greatest steakhouse’ is for its more infamous role in gangland history. In 1985, Gambino crime family boss Paul Castellano and underboss Thomas Bilotti were gunned down as they stepped from their Lincoln limousine outside Sparks, on the orders of rival Italian-American gangster John Gotti. (Image credit: Leonard J DeFrancisci)

210 E 46th St, New York, NY 10017

http://www.sparkssteakhouse.com/

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Grit, Gangsters and Gasoline

Stop 3: Graffiti Wall of Fame 3/12

Graffiti Wall of Fame

New York is full of glossy upmarket art galleries to see priceless works of art – but it’s home of some of the best free street art in the world too. The best place to find it is at the ‘Graffiti Wall of Fame’, the walls of the playground of Jackie Robinson Educational Complex in the Upper East Side / East Harlem districts. The Wall of Fame was created in 1980 to provide a canvas for talented graffiti artists from across the city to show off their skills.

Park Ave & E 106th St, New York, NY 10029

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Grit, Gangsters and Gasoline

Stop 4: Eastern State Penitentiary 4/12

Eastern State Penitentiary

The early 19th-century jail was once one of the biggest and most expensive public buildings in the world. Visitors including Charles Dickens came from all over the world to see its revolutionary solitary confinement design. Inmates included gangster Al Capone, and the prison has many legends about ghosts and hauntings. The notoriously grim ESP closed in 1971 and is now open for daily tours.

2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130

http://www.easternstate.org/home

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Grit, Gangsters and Gasoline

Stop 5: Mutter Museum 5/12

Mutter Museum

It’s ghoulish and provocative but the Mutter Museum is also deeply fascinating if you have a taste for the medically macabre. The Museum is part of the College of Physicians but is really a storehouse of abnormal body parts, diseased organs and genetic mutations. Browse gruesome early surgical tools, like a Civil War amputation kit or a collection of 139 skulls. There are even slides of Albert Einstein’s brain on display.

19 S. 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

http://muttermuseum.org/

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Grit, Gangsters and Gasoline

Stop 6: Pittsburgh Overlook 6/12

Pittsburgh Overlook

The view from Elliott’s Bluff is one of the classic urban American panoramas. The lookout hill overlooks downtown Pittsburgh where the two rivers meet to form the Ohio. From ‘The Point’ as locals call it, Native American tribes would keep watch over the territory for miles around. Today the prime spot for selfies with the skyscraper backdrop is called ‘West End Overlook’. It’s a small park with a big view, particularly at night.

Marlow Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15220

http://www.visitpittsburgh.com/

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Grit, Gangsters and Gasoline

Stop 7: Monongahela Incline 7/12

Monongahela Incline

Putting the ‘fun’ into ‘funicular’, this is the oldest continuously operating cable car in the States, providing great views of the Smithfield St Bridge and across the river Monongahela. Connecting riverside leisure to the quaint and green Mt Washington neighbourhood, the trip up and down the steep incline offers a quiet few moments to soak up the stunning views – and has the added bonus of being much faster than covering the distance between the two points on foot.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15211

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Stop 8: Ohio State Reformatory 8/12

Ohio State Reformatory

A visit to the enormous Gothic chateau-like building is a chance to experience the oppressive atmosphere of The Shawshank Redemption, which was filmed here. The monstrous six-storey eastern cell block is the biggest in the world. The grandeur of the Victorian structure was meant to inspire inmates to reform but has more recently inspired a series of paranormal sightings. Today’s visitors can take history tours… or ghost tours. (Image credit: Mike Sharp)

100 Reformatory Rd, Mansfield, OH 44905

https://www.mrps.org/

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Stop 9: Helltown 9/12

Helltown

‘Helltown’ is the new name for a leafy village in Summit County that was formerly known as Boston. It was cleared by the authorities in 1974 to create a national park, but this development was never built and the village became overgrown and derelict. Today it’s an opportunity to explore a ghost town that is full of legends and myths. Hauntings, Satanists, serial killers, huge snakes and toxic chemical spills have all been quoted as the reasons for the abandonment of the village.

5801-5825 Main Street, Peninsula, Ohio, 44264

http://www.bostontownship.org/

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Grit, Gangsters and Gasoline

Stop 10: Old Man’s Cave 10/12

Old Man’s Cave

Ohio’s Hocking Hills boast a number of beautiful natural rock formations, and for many the highlight is Old Man’s Cave. The gorge into which the cave cuts forms part of many hiking trails through the region to the Buckeye State’s other natural wonders. This particular hike is just a mile long, so enjoy the forested hills and rocky cliff faces of Old Man’s Cave – and learn how it got its name at the visitors’ centre. (Image credit: Jaknouse)

21725 Ohio 374 Scenic, Logan, OH 43138

http://www.hockinghills.com/

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Grit, Gangsters and Gasoline

Stop 11: Rotary Jail Museum 11/12

Rotary Jail Museum

The ‘rotary jail’ seemed a good idea at the time. Cells were segments of a giant wheel, which was spun so only one prisoner could get out of the door at a time. Sadly the system often trapped prisoner’s limbs, crushing them immediately, so it was abandoned. The only working rotary jail that still exists is in the small town of Crawfordsville, making it an essential stop on our road trip. (Image credit: Don O'Brien)

225 North Washington Street, Crawfordsville, Indiana 47933

http://www.rotaryjailmuseum.org/

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Grit, Gangsters and Gasoline

Stop 12: Untouchable Tour 12/12

Untouchable Tour

As a grand finale to the road trip, take a tour of Chicago’s gangster hot spots with this long-standing organised crime outfit. The Untouchable Tours add a touch of mob-style showbiz and black comedy to the darker side of the city. Trace the footsteps of mobsters like Capone and Dillinger as the ‘Gangster bus’ cruises the Windy City, with costumed guides searching out the haunts of hoodlums, the seedy gambling dens, and even the sites of gangland shootouts. (Image credit: southie3)

600 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

https://gangstertour.com/

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