Rare Prohibition Era Photos

Rare Prohibition Era Photos

Old Photos: 27 Rare Prohibition Era Photos

The Prohibition era was an extremely difficult time in 20th century American history. During this period, from 1919 until Prohibition was finally repealed in 1933, it was against the law in the United States to make, sell, or consume alcohol. Americans, however, loved their alcohol and banning it actually resulted in a whopping 70% increase in alcohol consumption during the Prohibition years.

We Want Beer - Labor union members marching through Broad Street, Newark New Jersey, carrying signs in protest of Prohibition - 1931

WE WANT BEER
Labor union members marching through Broad Street, Newark New Jersey, carrying signs in protest of prohibition – 1931.
(Library of Congress)

People went to great lengths to both make and find alcoholic beverages. Criminal gangs, in particular, exploited the system. These operations distilled their own whiskey, beer, gin, moonshine and other types of alcohol or simply illegally imported it by air and sea from other countries. The sale and distribution of alcohol netted huge profits for their illegal liquor businesses and also resulted in literal war between gangs and police across the country.

In this collection of rare Prohibition era photos, you’ll get a glimpse of what everyday life was like for not just the average citizen, but also police officials as they sought, found and destroyed millions of gallons of booze throughout America.


Inside shot of a crowded bar just before midnight, when wartime prohibition went into effect - New York City - June 30, 1919 Inside shot of a crowded bar just before midnight, the night before Prohibition went into effect. New York City – June 30, 1919. (Library of Congress)


A Fair Haul by the Liquor Squad - Group of policemen posed with cases of moonshine, Washington, D.C. - September 23, 1922 A Fair Haul by the Liquor Squad – Group of policemen posed with cases of moonshine, Washington, D.C. – September 23, 1922. (Library of Congress)


January 26, 1926 - Latest fashion trend in flasks. Mlle. Rhea, dainty dancer with the Keiths Program started the garter flask fad in Washington, DC The Latest Fashion Trend in Flasks. Mlle. Rhea, dainty dancer with the Keiths Program, started the garter flask fad in Washington, DC – January 26, 1926. (Library of Congress)


Prohibition Era Photos - Krazy Kat Speakeasy - Washington, DC - circa 1920s Prohibition Era Photos: Several people standing outside the Krazy Kat Speakeasy in Washington, DC – circa 1920s. (themobmuseum.org)


Alcohol pouring out the third floor windows after being discovered by Prohibition agents during a raid on an illegal distillery in Detroit, Michigan - December 10, 1929 Alcohol is seen pouring out the third floor windows of a building after an illegal distillery is discovered and destroyed by Prohibition agents during a raid. Detroit, Michigan – December 10, 1929. (Public Domain)


Man carrying a case of Four Roses whiskey on his shoulder, possibly confiscated by the U.S. Internal Revenue Bureau - ca1921-1932 Man carrying a case of Four Roses whiskey on his shoulder, possibly confiscated by the U.S. Internal Revenue Bureau – ca1921-1932. (Library of Congress)


Prohibition agents pouring whiskey into a sewer drain - July 8, 1921 Prohibition agents pouring whiskey into a sewer drain – July 8, 1921. (Library of Congress)


A woman hides 2 large containers of alcohol under her dress and coat, as seen in this 'on off' photo - Detroit, Michigan - circa 1925-1930 A woman hides two large containers of alcohol under her dress and coat, as seen in this “on / off” photo – Detroit, Michigan – circa 1925-1930. (Public Domain)


Prohibition officers raiding the lunch room of 922 Pa. Ave., Wash., D.C. - April 25, 1923 Prohibition officers raiding the restaurant, Lunch Room – 922 Pa. Ave., Wash., D.C. – April 25, 1923. (Library of Congress)


One barrel and multiple bottles of confiscated whiskey - Prohibition - ca1921-1930 One barrel and multiple bottles of confiscated whiskey – Prohibition – ca1921-1930. (Library of Congress)


Coast Guardesmen with rifles along deck facing a rum runner - 1924 Coast Guardesmen with rifles along deck facing a rum runner – 1924. (Library of Congress)


Wreckage of a Stutz automobile that crashed into a tree at 70 MPH - Bootlegger driver was killed and fifty gallons of corn liquor was destroyed and confiscated - July 29, 1924 Wreckage of a Stutz automobile that crashed into a tree at 70 MPH. Bootlegger driver was killed and fifty gallons of corn liquor was destroyed and confiscated – July 29, 1924. (Library of Congress)


Bootleggers and moonshiners wore special 'cow shoes' to hide their footprints from police and prohibition agents - Prohibition Era - 1922

Above and Below Photos… Bootleggers and moonshiners wore special ‘cow shoes’ to hide their footprints from police and prohibition agents – 1922. (Library of Congress)

Second photo showing the bottom of the 'cow shoes' worn by bootleggers and moonshiners - prohibition - 1922 According to The Evening Independent (May 27, 1922):
“A new method of evading prohibition agents was revealed here today by A.L. Allen, state prohibition enforcement director, who displayed what he called a “cow shoe” as the latest thing front the haunts of moonshiners. The cow shoe is a strip of metal to which is tacked a wooden block carved to resemble the hoof of a cow, which may be strapped to the human foot. A man shod with a pair of them would leave a trail resembling that of a cow. The shoe found was picked up near Port Tampa where a still was located some time ago. It will be sent to the prohibition department at Washington. Officers believe the inventor got his idea from a Sherlock Holmes story in which the villain shod his horse with shoes the imprint of which resembled those of a cow’s hoof.”


Women and ballot box- Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform - 1932 Women and Ballot Box – Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform – 1932. (Library of Congress)


Woman holding a poster that says 'Abolish Prohibition! - 1931 Woman holding a poster that says ‘Abolish Prohibition! – 1931. Near the end of Prohibition in 1933, many women had organized in efforts to repeal the law as gang violence and illegal distilling of alcohol had become a huge problem throughout major cities in America. Along with gang members, innocent bystanders were also killed or seriously injured in the violence. (Library of Congress)


Internal Revenue Bureau agents destroying whiskey and beer - November 20, 1923 Internal Revenue Bureau agents destroying whiskey and beer – November 20, 1923. (Library of Congress)


Photo shows Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Public Safety Director, Smedley D. Duckboards Butler, destroying kegs of beer with an axe and dumping the alcohol into the Schuylkill River - 1924 Photo shows Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Public Safety Director, Smedley D. Duckboards Butler, destroying kegs of beer with an axe and dumping the alcohol into the Schuylkill River – 1924. (Library of Congress)


Prohibition agents dismantling a still in San Francisco - ca1909-1932 Prohibition agents dismantling a still in San Francisco – ca1909-1932. (Library of Congress)


Two U.S. prohibition agents carrying confiscated liquor past a group of men - ca1921 Two U.S. prohibition agents carrying confiscated liquor past a group of men – ca1921. (Library of Congress)


Lt. O.T. Davis, Sergt. J.D. McQuade, George Fowler of Internal Revenue Service and H.G. Bauer with the largest still ever taken in the national capitol and bottles of liquor - November 11, 1922 Lt. O.T. Davis, Sergt. J.D. McQuade, George Fowler of Internal Revenue Service and H.G. Bauer with the largest still ever taken in the national capitol and bottles of liquor – November 11, 1922. (Library of Congress)


Prohibition Era Photos - Two men posing with a whiskey still - ca1920-1930 Prohibition Era Photos – Two men posing with a whiskey still – ca1920-1930. (Library of Congress)


A rather happy looking group of New York law enforcement officials dumping illegal alcohol during Prohibition - 1920 A rather happy looking group of New York law enforcement officials dumping illegal alcohol during Prohibition – 1920. (Public Domain / New York Daily News)


Police Officers watch as prohibition agents pour a barrel of alcohol into the sewer after a raid - New York City - Prohibtion - 1921 Police Officers watch as officials pour a barrel of alcohol into the sewer after a raid – New York City – Prohibtion – 1921. (Library of Congress)


Woman showing a Prohibition-era fashion accessory, the cane-flask, 1922 - Washington, DC Woman showing a Prohibition-era fashion accessory, the cane-flask. 1922 – Washington, DC. (Library of Congress)


Bandleader Ted Lewis is seen here celebrating the end of Prohibition at the Hollywood Club with his ‘Broadway Beauties’ Bandleader Ted Lewis is seen here celebrating the end of Prohibition at the Hollywood Club with his ‘Broadway Beauties’ in 1933. (Public Domain / Dan Kelleher / New York Daily News)

To the delight of most everyone, except the mobsters profiting from illegal alcohol sales, Prohibition was repealed on December 5, 1933, when the U.S. government ratified the 18th amendment.


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August 29, 2018 / by / in

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