Like something straight out of a movie starring Al Pacino and Marlon Brando, St. Paul, Minnesota has a fascinating gangster history. The Wabasha Street Caves are located on Wabasha Street in downtown St. Paul across from the Mississippi River, a short distance from your furnished apartment in Minneapolis. You may be surprised to learn that St. Paul’s gangster history is unmatched compared to most American cities. Historically, “public enemy era” criminals like John Dillinger and the Barker gang frequented the caves. These were some of the “most ruthless, dangerous and resourceful criminal brains” of the 1920’s and 30’s according to J. Edgar Hoover, and all of them were wanted by the FBI for their crimes.
How did the gangsters stay under the radar?
St. Paul’s corrupt executive police chief protected the gangsters and allowed them to graduate from robbery to kidnapping for ransom. The caves, too, provided somewhat of a safe haven for criminal activity. There was a shootout in the caves and several murders, although no bodies were ever recovered. You can still see where the bullets ricocheted off the walls of the caves. Your short term stay in Minneapolis, MN would not be complete without getting out of your furnished rental and heading across the river to check out the remarkable gangster history in St. Paul.
After the son of famed aviator Charles Lindberg Jr. (who happened to be a Minnesota native himself) was tragically kidnapped, Congress and President Herbert Hoover signed the Federal Kidnapping Act in 1932. The act made it a federal crime to transport the victim of kidnapping across stay lines. In charge of the FBI at the time was J. Edgar Hoover, so it was his responsibility to deal with such crimes.
At the same time, Ma Barker and her gang affiliated sons were committing bank robberies and murders across the Midwestern United States. When they moved to St. Paul, they lived at the Commodore Apartments. A few years earlier, those furnished apartments were home to F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda. There, the gang committed their first kidnapping of William Hamm Jr., owner of the Hamm Brewery, drove him to Chicago, and demanded a $100,000 ransom. The gang would get their money, launder it, and continue their crime spree.
Get out of your Minneapolis furnished apartment for a fun, two-hour weekend activity during your stay in the Twin Cities. Each Gangster Tour is led by a notorious gangster or his costumed moll. You’ll have the opportunity to visit infamous, furnished gangster hideouts and the nightclubs where many gangsters socialized. Reservations are required and there are tours every Saturday at noon and in June through September, every Sunday at noon as well. The tour costs $24 per person.