Vintage Photos: L.A. Celebrates The End Of Prohibition 80 Years Ago
Raise your glasses! November 8 marks the 80th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition.
The unpopular amendment prohibited the sale of alcohol, beer and wine but enterprising Americans found a way to keep the booze flowing, thanks to bootleggers and speakeasies, which were plentiful in L.A., including Lucey's on Melrose Avenue, King Eddy Saloon at 5th and Main (masquerading as a piano store) and The Del Monte Speakeasy in Venice, with an innocuous grocery store front.
Once the nationwide ban became law on January 16, 1920, local authorities had their hands full seizing and destroying illegal liquor, which they then poured into drains or directly into the ocean. (Environmental concerns were pretty much nil at the time.)
Thirteen long (and colorfully crime-filled) years later, Prohibition was finally dismantled. First, the sale of beer became legal again in April 1933, with none other than "beautiful platinum film star" Jean Harlow christening the first load of beer that rolled away from the Eastside Brewery in Lincoln Heights. Thirsty patrons flocked to sites like the (now gone) Belmont on Main Street, where the beer was quickly sold out.
Prohibition was finally overturned completely on November 8, 1933 and jubilant revelers celebrated in style, ringing in a new age of sophisticated (and legal) cocktails. As Homer Simpson once toasted: "To alcohol. The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems."
Update: On November 8, Utah became the 36th state to repeal the 18th Amendment, the majority needed to end Prohibition on a national level, which was definitely cause for celebration. California was the 13th state to vote to repeal the unpopular amendment. Ratification was completed on December 5, marking the nationwide end of Prohibition.
According to Prof. David J. Hanson, Ph.D. of State University New York, Angelenos were a thirsty bunch. In 1928, an L.A. jury consumed the evidence against a bootlegger on trial, who then had to be released for lack of evidence.