This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Phoenix, Arizona in the days of Prohibition


It's Friday night and I could use a drink. However, it's 1921, and we're in Phoenix, Arizona, and intoxicating beverages are illegal. The sale of beer, wine, and spirits have been illegal in the United States since the passing of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. And it's been illegal in Arizona since 1915. But that's OK, I know where to go.

Walk with me, I know a place. The place I know is called a "Speakeasy". I like to call these places "Blind Pigs", but there are a lot of names for places where you can get a beer, or a glass or wine, or some whiskey. You just have to know somebody, and you know me. Let's go.

No, there are no signs, so don't bother looking. I heard from a friend of a friend that there's a Speakeasy somewhere in Melinda's Alley, behind the Adams Hotel. Let's see, I'll knock on this door. The password is "Service and Cooperation".

We're in. Yes, there are a lot of people here. Just because the sale of alcohol has become illegal doesn't mean the consumption of it has gone down. The price has gone up, because now it's supplied as an illegal drug, and it's handled by organized crime, you know, Al Capone and his friends. What'll ya have? Don't worry, the booze here is fine. I've heard of places that sell hooch that's deadly, home-made stuff that not only tastes awful, but really isn't safe to drink. But I know the bootlegger who supplies this place, and he makes regular runs to Canada.

What's that sound? Dang, it's the cops, the place is being raided! Calm down now, this happens all of the time. Usually they just ask for your name and let you go. The worst that's happened to me is to spend the night in the hoosegow. I never give my real name, I just call myself Remington Steele, or something. I'd hate to have my parents find out that I went to a place like this. Besides, my dad stills his own gin, and he thinks it tastes fine. But it's awful!

See, I told you that they'd let us go. The place will be closed down, and a new one will open somewhere else right away. I got a little flask of whiskey, let's go down by Swilling's Ditch and finish it off.


Image at the top of this post: A Speakeasy in Phoenix in the 1920s. Undisclosed location, don't ask.


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