Raise a Glass to the Past: Colorized Memories of Prohibition

May 30, 2024

Agents Dumping Bootleg Booze in 1926 City Sewer

Prohibition was a wild time in American history, having lasted from 1920 until 1933. The ban outlawed the sale, production, and transport of alcohol. This era gave rise to speakeasies, organized crime, and the elusive figure of the bootlegger. People remember Prohibition for its stories of rebellion, corruption, and defiance. It was a time when the American people faced a moral dilemma, and many chose to flout the law to enjoy their beloved spirits. The effects of Prohibition are still felt today, as it largely shaped the public's views of alcohol and the government. So what was life like in this seemingly lawless era full of rampant bootlegging and organized crime? Let's get into it!

 

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

In 1926, the Agents from the Bureau of Prohibition were on a mission to rid the streets of illegal alcohol, and this image shows what a major score looked like.

Regardless of how the agents actually felt about the booze they were searching for (not every agent was a teetotaler), they went about their jobs as if they had never touched a drop. How many gallons of illegal booze was destroyed this way? We may never know.

Gangsters, Bootleggers, and Prohibition: The Capone-Prignano Chronicles

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In this October 10, 1931, photo, gangster Al Capone attends a game between Notre Dame and Northwestern Grid in Chicago. Former city councilman A.J. Prignano is on the left. Al Capone and A.J. Prignano were both prominent figures during the Prohibition Era.

Capone was a notorious gangster who rose to power during this time who ran many illegal activities like bootlegging, gambling, and prostitution. Prignano was a federal agent, tasked with enforcing Prohibition laws and cracking down on organized crime, which must have made this an interesting day for these two men.

The paths of these two men crossed in a violent and deadly game of cat and mouse. Capone's criminal empire made him dangerously powerful and Prignano was determined to bring him to justice. Despite his best efforts, Prignano struggled to catch Capone. Capone used his wealth and influence to evade capture. In the end, Capone was ultimately arrested and convicted of tax evasion and served time in Alcatraz prison.