Depending on part of the country, they might be carefully hidden and open only to those who knew the password, the equivalent of “Joe sent me”, or they might be operated rather openly in areas whee the police had been sufficiently bribed to look the other way. ‘Speakeasies’ welcomed women. That was a change from the bars and saloons of the past that were off-limits to women or had a back entrance for the use of working-class women.
Getting around the law turned into an elaborate game that often proved deadly.
Some ‘Speakeasies’ were built at the end of piers, where boars could unload their liquor up through a trap door directly into a bar. Others had secret rooms, rotating shelves, trap doors, fake walls and emergency disposal shafts to thwart police.
The vast majority of ‘speakeasies’ were hidden within or behind legitimate operations such as grocery stores, restaurants, tailors and even barbers…
New York’s notorious prohibition joints were often guarded by a man at the front door with a buzzer he pressed to warn people inside if the place was about to be raided.