Speakeasy
Overview
 
A speakeasy, also called a blind pig or blind tiger, is an establishment that illegally sells alcoholic beverage
Alcoholic beverage
An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes: beers, wines, and spirits. They are legally consumed in most countries, and over 100 countries have laws regulating their production, sale, and consumption...

s. Such establishments came into prominence in the United States during the period known as Prohibition
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

 (1920–1933, longer in some states). During this time, the sale, manufacture, and transportation (bootlegging
Rum-running
Rum-running, also known as bootlegging, is the illegal business of transporting alcoholic beverages where such transportation is forbidden by law...

) of alcoholic beverages was illegal throughout the United States.
The term "speakeasy" might have originated in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 in 1888, when the Brooks High-License Act raised the state's fee for a saloon
Bar (establishment)
A bar is a business establishment that serves alcoholic drinks — beer, wine, liquor, and cocktails — for consumption on the premises.Bars provide stools or chairs that are placed at tables or counters for their patrons. Some bars have entertainment on a stage, such as a live band, comedians, go-go...

 license from $50 to $500.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
A speakeasy, also called a blind pig or blind tiger, is an establishment that illegally sells alcoholic beverage
Alcoholic beverage
An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes: beers, wines, and spirits. They are legally consumed in most countries, and over 100 countries have laws regulating their production, sale, and consumption...

s. Such establishments came into prominence in the United States during the period known as Prohibition
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

 (1920–1933, longer in some states). During this time, the sale, manufacture, and transportation (bootlegging
Rum-running
Rum-running, also known as bootlegging, is the illegal business of transporting alcoholic beverages where such transportation is forbidden by law...

) of alcoholic beverages was illegal throughout the United States.

Etymology

The term "speakeasy" might have originated in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 in 1888, when the Brooks High-License Act raised the state's fee for a saloon
Bar (establishment)
A bar is a business establishment that serves alcoholic drinks — beer, wine, liquor, and cocktails — for consumption on the premises.Bars provide stools or chairs that are placed at tables or counters for their patrons. Some bars have entertainment on a stage, such as a live band, comedians, go-go...

 license from $50 to $500. The number of licensed bars promptly plummeted, but some bars continued to operate illegally. Kate Hester had run a saloon for years in McKeesport, just outside of Pittsburgh. She refused to pay the new license fee and wanted to keep from drawing attention to her illegal business. When her customers got too rowdy, she would hush them by whispering, "Speak easy, boys! Speak easy!" This expression became common in McKeesport and spread to Pittsburgh.

An alternative theory is that the term was simply derived from a patron's manner of ordering alcohol without raising suspicion—bartenders would tell patrons to be quiet and "speak easy".

History

Speakeasies were numerous and popular during the Prohibition
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

 years. Some of them were operated by people who were part of organized crime
Organized crime
Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are...

. Even though police and agents of the Bureau of Prohibition
Bureau of Prohibition
The Bureau of Prohibition was the federal law enforcement agency formed to enforce the National Prohibition Act of 1919, commonly known as the Volstead Act, which backed up the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution regarding the prohibition of the manufacture, sale, and transportation...

 would often raid them and arrest their owners and patrons, they were so profitable
Profit (economics)
In economics, the term profit has two related but distinct meanings. Normal profit represents the total opportunity costs of a venture to an entrepreneur or investor, whilst economic profit In economics, the term profit has two related but distinct meanings. Normal profit represents the total...

 that they continued to flourish.

Blind pigs and blind tigers

The term "blind pig" (or "blind tiger") originated in the United States in the 19th century; it was applied to lower-class establishments that sold alcoholic beverages illegally. The operator of an establishment (such as a saloon or bar) would charge customers to see an attraction (such as an animal) and then serve a "complimentary" alcoholic beverage, thus circumventing the law.

"In desperate cases it has to betake itself to the exhibition of Greenland pigs and other curious animals, charging 25 cents for a sight of the pig and throwing in a gin cocktail gratuitously."


"[They] are in a mysterious place called a ‘blind tiger,’ drinking the very bad whiskey for which Prohibition is indirectly responsible."


The difference between a speakeasy and a blind pig was that a speakeasy was usually a higher-class establishment that offered food and entertainment. In large cities, some speakeasies even required a coat and tie for men, and evening dress
Evening gown
An evening gown is a long flowing women's dress usually worn to a formal affair. It ranges from tea and ballerina to full-length. Evening gowns are often made of a luxury fabric such as chiffon, velvet, satin, or silk...

 for women. But a blind pig was usually a low-class dive
Dive bar
A dive bar is a type of bar or pub. Dive bars generally have a relaxed and informal atmosphere—they are often referred to by local residents as "neighborhood bars," where people in the neighborhood gather to drink and socialize...

 where only beer and liquor were offered.

Blind pigs continue to exist in the United States. Some people sell alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption from their homes (often at double the retail price, or more) during hours when legal sellers are closed by law, and some people operate bars illegally.

Gangsters

The era of Prohibition saw the growth of organized crime
Organized crime
Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are...

 in the United States.

Gangster
Gangster
A gangster is a criminal who is a member of a gang. Some gangs are considered to be part of organized crime. Gangsters are also called mobsters, a term derived from mob and the suffix -ster....

s such as Dutch Schultz
Dutch Schultz
Dutch Schultz was a New York City-area Jewish American gangster of the 1920s and 1930s who made his fortune in organized crime-related activities such as bootlegging alcohol and the numbers racket...

, Al Capone
Al Capone
Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone was an American gangster who led a Prohibition-era crime syndicate. The Chicago Outfit, which subsequently became known as the "Capones", was dedicated to smuggling and bootlegging liquor, and other illegal activities such as prostitution, in Chicago from the early...

, and Lucky Luciano
Lucky Luciano
Charlie "Lucky" Luciano was an Italian mobster born in Sicily. Luciano is considered the father of modern organized crime in the United States for splitting New York City into five different Mafia crime families and the establishment of the first commission...

 made fortunes by supplying illegal beer and liquor to speakeasies across the country.

Some speakeasies were used as homes and offices by gangsters, who adopted an extravagant and easily identifiable lifestyle. Successful gangsters could be identified by their fashionable silk suits, expensive jewelry, and guns.

Bootlegging

The term “bootlegging” came into use in the 1880s, when it referred to the practice of hiding flasks
Hip flask
A hip flask is a thin flask for holding a distilled beverage; its size and shape are suited to a trouser pocket.-Description: Hip flasks were traditionally made of pewter, silver, or even glass, though most modern flasks are made from stainless steel...

 of illegal liquor inside boots.

Bootlegging was widespread in the United States during Prohibition. Even though the Eighteenth Amendment
Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Eighteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution established Prohibition in the United States. The separate Volstead Act set down methods of enforcing the Eighteenth Amendment, and defined which "intoxicating liquors" were prohibited, and which were excluded from prohibition...

 prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, the law was widely disobeyed by the public and even by government officials.

During Prohibition, the production of illegal beer and whiskey quickly expanded across the country. Bootleggers made large profits by distributing these products to speakeasies and other consumers. Bootlegging became an organized business run by crime families and gangsters, (e.g. Al Capone).

Locations

In many rural towns, small speakeasies and blind pigs were operated by local business owners as a way of making extra money. These family secrets were often kept even after Prohibition ended. For example, in 2007 secret underground rooms thought to have been a speakeasy were found by renovators on the grounds of the Cyber Cafe West in Binghamton, New York
Binghamton, New York
Binghamton is a city in the Southern Tier of New York in the United States. It is near the Pennsylvania border, in a bowl-shaped valley at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers...

.

The locations of speakeasies were commonly known in the cities of New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

. However, they could be found in many other American cities, both large and small.

See also

  • Alcohol laws of the United States by state
    Alcohol laws of the United States by state
    This list of alcohol laws of the United States by State provides an overview of alcohol-related laws by state throughout the United States. This list is not intended to provide a breakdown of such laws by local jurisdiction within a state; see that state's alcohol laws page for more detailed...

  • Baptists and Bootleggers
  • Bootlegging
    Rum-running
    Rum-running, also known as bootlegging, is the illegal business of transporting alcoholic beverages where such transportation is forbidden by law...

     / Rum-running
    Rum-running
    Rum-running, also known as bootlegging, is the illegal business of transporting alcoholic beverages where such transportation is forbidden by law...

  • Bricks of wine
  • Bureau of Prohibition
    Bureau of Prohibition
    The Bureau of Prohibition was the federal law enforcement agency formed to enforce the National Prohibition Act of 1919, commonly known as the Volstead Act, which backed up the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution regarding the prohibition of the manufacture, sale, and transportation...

  • Dive bar
    Dive bar
    A dive bar is a type of bar or pub. Dive bars generally have a relaxed and informal atmosphere—they are often referred to by local residents as "neighborhood bars," where people in the neighborhood gather to drink and socialize...

  • Free State of Galveston
    Free State of Galveston
    The Free State of Galveston was a whimsical name given to the island city of Galveston in the U.S. state of Texas during the early-to-mid-20th century. Today, the term is sometimes used to describe the culture and history of that era...

  • Govenlock, Saskatchewan
    Govenlock, Saskatchewan
    Govenlock was once a small village of 151 in Reno Rural Municipality No. 51, Saskatchewan, Canada. The former townsite of Govenlock is located on Highway 13 also known as the historic Red Coat Trail, about 15 km east of the Alberta-Saskatchewan border...

  • Moonshine
    Moonshine
    Moonshine is an illegally produced distilled beverage...

  • Prohibition in Canada
    Prohibition in Canada
    The temperance movement reached its height in Canada in the 1920s, when outside imports were cut off by provincial referendums. As legislation prohibiting consumption of alcohol was repealed, it was typically replaced with regulation restricting the sale of alcohol to minors and imposing excise...

  • Prohibition in the United States
    Prohibition in the United States
    Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

  • Shebeen
    Shebeen
    A shebeen was originally an illicit bar or club where excisable alcoholic beverages were sold without a licence.The term has spread far from its origins in Ireland, to Scotland, Canada, the United States, England,...

  • Volstead Act
    Volstead Act
    The National Prohibition Act, known informally as the Volstead Act, was the enabling legislation for the Eighteenth Amendment which established prohibition in the United States...

  • Webb–Kenyon Act


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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