Government officials have long attempted to ignore, or at least downplay, Chicago’s somewhat seedy past. The city government rarely mentions any of the famous gangsters of the 1920s who once made Chicago their home, and the government is understandably reluctant to point out any of the buildings that were the sites of famous shoot outs and arrests. Most city officials would be hesitant to lead tourists to the site of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, for instance.
The president of the preservation group Landmarks Illinois, Jim Peters, acknowledges that the city “has been very hesitant to glorify or recognize” its gangster glory.
“Capone’s onetime headquarters, the Lexington Hotel, was designated a Chicago landmark by the group for its architecture but was torn down in 1995. An effort to have Capone’s home added to the National Register of Historic Places failed.”
But recently, the National Register of Historic Places did decide to grant the Biograph Theater in Lincoln Park—the theater where John Dilinger was shot by FBI agents—landmark status, and many Chicagoans believe that more people will actually visit the theater now that they know about its infamous history. They also believe that the increase in tourism could bring an extra source of revenue to the neighborhood.