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DRY NOT

Photos: The rise and fall of prohibition in the US

Johnny Simon
By Johnny Simon

Deputy Photo Editor

Prohibition in the US was made law 100 years ago on Jan. 16, 1919, as Nebraska became the 36th state to ratify the 18th amendment, which banned “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.”

It wouldn’t formally go into effect until 1920, when the Volstead Act, the measure passed by Congress in October of 1919 laid out the enforcement of prohibition.

The push for prohibition in the US was decades in the making. The temperance movement had been preaching about the ills of alcohol for more than a century.

Prohibition in turn led to the rise of organized crime, while Americans continued to drink heavily. “Rum runners” brought illicit liquor into the US, speakeasy bars flourished in cities and the massive parties that defined the “Roaring Twenties” still went on behind closed doors, all while law-enforcement officials appeared in press photos confiscating liquor and taking axes to barrels of beer.

It would be law of the land until it was repealed in 1933, the only constitutional amendment ever to meet that fate.

Library on Congress
The National Prohibition Conference meets in Indianapolis in 1892.
Library of Congress
Elsie Hill, a prohibition campainer speaking at street meeting in St. Paul, Minn., during Prohibition Party convention that endorsed a plank advocating a suffrage amendment in July 1916.
Library of Congress
Governor James P. Goodrich of Indiana, surrounded by prominent “dry” workers, signing a state-wide prohibition bill to take effect April 2, 1918. The federal prohibition amendment was put into law the next year.
Library of Congress
A group of men holding bones, probably connected to “bone dry” support of prohibition, at the US Capitol in an undated photo.
Library of Congress
A moonshine still confiscated by the Internal Revenue Bureau photographed at the Treasury Department in 1921
National Archives
Prohibition agents destroying a bar in an undated photo.
National Archives
A woman shows off the flask hidden in the garter on her leg.
National Archives
New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach, right, watching agents pour liquor into sewer following a raid during the height of prohibition.
Library of Congress
A policeman stands alongside a wrecked car and cases of moonshine in Washington DC in 1922.
AP Photo
Bottles of Scotch whiskey smuggled in hollowed-out loaves of bread, photographed in 1924.
AP Photo
Authorities unload cases of whiskey crates labeled as green tomatoes from a refrigerator car in the Washington yards on May 15, 1929. The grower’s express cargo train was en route from Holandale, Florida to Newark, NJ.
Beer barrels are destroyed by prohibition agents at a dump in New York City, in 1931
AP Photo
Coast guardsmen stand on a speed boat packed with nearly 700 cases of liquor they captured as it was unloaded at Newburyport, Massachusettes in 1932. They pursued the craft from outside the harbor into the Merrimack River. The crew fled as the government boat approached.
AP Photo
Estelle Zemon, left, and an unidentified woman model ways to conceal bottles of rum to get past customs officials during the U.S. alcohol prohibition, March 18, 1931.
National Archives
Officials posing in front of a Bureau of Prohibition vehicle in 1930.
AP Photo
Confiscated liquor that has been seized by the New Jersey State Court in 1924.
AP Photo
Rufus S. Lusk, vice chairman of the Crusaders, left, and Sen. Millard E. Tydings (D-Md.), hold a map, March 9, 1932, prepared by the local “Crusaders”, a prohibition organization, and is said to contain 1,155 spots for each place raided for liquor in the capital last year.
(AP Photo)
A “beer for taxation” rally makes its way down 50th Street in New York, May 14, 1932.
AP Photo
An anti-prohibition parade in Newark, New Jersey in 1932.
Crowds jam a downtown Chicago bar as word came from Utah that prohibition has been repealed, Dec. 12, 1933. Before the scramble for a legal drink, the crowd tossed a few hats in the air and let loose a round of cheers.
AP Photo
A crowd gathers on Broadway to celebrate the repeal of prohibition after midnight in New York City in 1933.
AP Photo
A crowd gathers as kegs of beer are unloaded in front of a restaurant on Broadway in New York City, the morning of April 7, 1933, when low-alcohol beer is legalized again.
AP Photo
Dorothy Wentworth, right, is shown with a friend at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, Dec. 5, 1933 to enjoy first legal cocktail party in many years.
AP Photo
This is the scene in one of the Chicago Loop hotels when beer started flowing, April 7, 1933, following the repeal of prohibition.