Speakeasies were formed in the 1920's so that people could get around the everyday hassle of police watching for people to break the 18th amendment. A speakeasy was an underground bar that discreetly served patrons liquor and often served food and had live bands and shows. The term speakeasy comes from bartenders to "speak easy" when ordering so they weren't overheard. Speakeasies were often unmarked establishments or were behind or under legal businesses. Due to Prohibition speakeasies were an established institution. When one saloon closed even more underground ones opened up. By the middle of the 1920's it was thought there were 100,000 speakeasies in New York City alone. Federal agents reported this as the 'wettest" area in the country.

Owning A Speakeasy


People that took a chance on owning a speakeasy could make a lot of money. It also was expensive to own one because of the operation cost. You not only had to buy the liquor, food and pay the bands but you would have to pay off the officials so they would turn their heads and ignore what they saw. Many people became criminals during Prohibition because it was worth the risk to get caught because the money to be made was so outstanding.

Popular Speakeasies


  • Manhattans "21" Club : This speakeasy was opened by Jack Kriendler and Charlie Berns. They spent a lot of money to have an elaborate alarm system because it was cheaper than buying off the officials. This alarm system attached to a separate cache so if they happened to get raided they could push a button and all the liquor would be hidden so the police wouldn't catch them and give the owner a fine.
  • The Stork Club: A famous speakeasy in New York City.
  • Green Lantern Club: Famous speakeasy in Ecrose, Detroit

Cause Of Speakeasies


Speakeasies were a necessity for all drinkers in the 1920's during Prohibition. Prohibition, which was brought on by many socialist movements, such as the Womens Christian Temperance Union, was the driving force behind speakeasies. There socialist movements in reality brought on more drinking and more alcohol production than at any point in history before.

Historical Significance


Speakeasies are very significant to the 1920's and even through to today. There are many things that we still enjoy today. Jazz music became very popular during the 20's as a way for musicians to express their thoughts and feelings. Many modern day jazz musicians carry on this tradition and jazz music is still extremely popular. If people had not been forced underground it is very possible people would not have bonded the way they did and jazz music may have died out. The 20's would have been significantly different, possibly just a forgotten era. Without Prohibition and speakeasies. They would have gone about with normal life if they had not been forced underground. In some ways it seems to have made the 20's a very popular time to study. It definitely made for interesting history.


1. http://alliance.ed.uiuc.edu/cdrom/hononegah/prohibition/speakeasies-s.htm
2. http://www.albany.edu/~wm731882/speakeasies_final.html
3. http://www.legendsofamerica.com/ah-prohibitionspeakeasy.html