Now here is something you probably didn’t know.
Pinball was banned in most American cities from the 1940’s through the 1970’s.
In New York, the pinball ban was executed in a particularly dramatic fashion. Just weeks after Pearl Harbor was attacked, Mayor Fiorello Henry La Guardia issued an ultimatum to the city’s police force stating that their top priority would be to round up pinball machines and arrest their owners.
Although pinball was illegal in New York, it did not disappear entirely—it just moved behind curtains to seedy pornography shops, in places like Harlem and the Village. And the police were still raiding illegal pinball operators through the 1970s.
During World War II, much of America’s manufacturing infrastructure switched over to the war effort. The pinball industry, which was a major user of copper wiring, was no exception. During the war, few new games were made. Instead, pinball suppliers began selling so-called conversion kits, which would allow pinball operators to transform a machine’s artwork to a fresh theme. These conversion themes often took the form of war-time motifs, such as the patriotic “Victory in the Pacific.”