What role did Saint Louis play during Prohibition?
During Prohibition, which lasted from 1920 to 1933, Saint Louis played a significant role as a hub for illicit alcohol production, distribution, and consumption. The city became a center for bootlegging and speakeasies, where people could obtain and consume alcoholic beverages despite the nationwide ban.
One key aspect of Saint Louis's involvement in Prohibition was its proximity to major alcohol-producing regions, such as the nearby Missouri wine country and the Bourbon distilleries of Kentucky. This geographical advantage allowed the city to become a major distribution point for smuggled and homemade alcohol. Bootleggers used the Mississippi River and the extensive railroad system to transport large quantities of illegal liquor into and out of Saint Louis.
Additionally, Saint Louis was home to several organized crime groups that profited from the illegal alcohol trade. Gangsters such as Egan's Rats and the Shelton Brothers ran large-scale bootlegging operations in the city. These groups controlled speakeasies and employed enforcers to protect their interests.
Saint Louis also had a significant influence on the temperance movement during Prohibition. The city was home to the Anti-Saloon League, a powerful national organization that advocated for alcohol prohibition. The league organized rallies, campaigns, and lobbying efforts to promote their cause.
Overall, Saint Louis played a central role in the illegal alcohol trade and was known as a city with a vibrant nightlife during Prohibition. While the ban on alcohol led to increased crime and corruption, it also provided opportunities for individuals and criminal organizations to profit from the demand for booze.