Mob house tour shows origins in Oak Park, River Forest
Notorious mobster Tony Accordo and his home in River Forest will be featured on the May 20 tour of mob homes.
WHAT: There Goes the Neighbor Hood Tour
WHEN: May 20, June 3, Sept. 23, and Oct. 14.
WHERE: The bus departs from (and returns to) the Oak Park Visitor Center, 1010 Lake St.
TIME: 11 a. m. and 1:30 p.m. on each date.
PHONE: Visitor Center ata (708) 848-1500
Updated: June 18, 2012 8:44AM
River Forest resident John Binder isn’t a gangster, but he sure knows a lot about the lives of some colorfully-named — and dead — local hoodlums, the mobsters who once lived in Oak Park and River Forest.
Let’s see, there was Tony Accardo, Paul “the Waiter” Ricca, “Tough Tony” Capezio, Sam Giancana, “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn, Frankie Lake, “Three Fingered Jack” White, and “Slippery Frank” Rio, to name a few.
You can see for yourself where all these goons lived during Binder’s There Goes the Neighbor Hood Tour on Sunday.
Binder — a Chicago organized crime historian for two decades — has conducted the tour for about eight years now.
“There is a great deal of Chicago gangster history, from Prohibition to the 1990s, around Oak Park and River Forest,” said Binder, author of “The Chicago Outfit.”
“There are many people who grew up with this subject being in their back yard or have heard about this from their relatives or have read about it in books and newspapers, but may not know the real details.”
“Other people have been inside various houses as friends of the children of mobsters, but they don’t know the true story about the homeowners.”
Fifteen homes are on the tour. One Accardo former home has a tunnel from the basement to the ground level outside and bullet-proof glass on at least one window. Another has a mural, commissioned by Accardo, that includes him, his wife, and former Outfit boss Jackie “The Lackey” Cerone and his wife. A third has a bank vault put in by Accardo, because the house was built for him.
Additionally, there are secret hiding places in one of Paul Ricca’s homes and Frank Rio, an alleged gunman in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, left a gun behind in the house.
But tour-goers only get to see exteriors of the homes, although Binder is considering a special tour version that would go inside one.
Binder discusses the criminal careers of the former owners, the unique features of each home (he has been in eight of them), and the family’s time there. He said new knowledge this year that, “one hundred percent verifies Accardo’s first house in River Forest.”
Binder said anyone with an interest in the history of organized crime in Chicago should check out his tour.
“If you’re from the near western suburbs, this is your local history,” said Binder. “Even if you’re not from the west suburbs, this is a two-hour total immersion into the history of the Chicago Outfit that touches on everything from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre to the Kennedy assassination.”
Sounds to me like the tour will be a big hit!