And now, a photo of a New York City bar from the night before prohibition went into effect. That fact, coupled with the visual evidence that the place was pretty dern crowded, makes it a fair assumption that the bar was set to make a killing on this particular evening.
To be clear, this doesn’t depict the night before Prohibition Proper went into effect.
Rather, it’s from the night before the effects of 18th Amendment’s predecessor, the Wartime Prohibition Act, were felt. This little beasty of an act went into effect on June 30, 1919. By then, the 18th Amendment had been ratified but had not yet been enacted. Supposedly put into place as part of the effort to save grain during its nominal wartime, it made the sale of beverages with greater than 2.75 percent alcohol illegal. This didn’t necessarily make sense, because when the act was passed — in November of the previous year, before the ratification of the 18th Amendment — the World War I armistice had already been signed.
No matter; just a couple of months after the wartime act was passed, the 18th Amendment was ratified in January, 1919. As we said, the Wartime Prohibition Act went into effect on June 30 of that year — just after the above photo was taken — and real live prohibition took hold in 1920. This made the production, transport and sale of alcohol illegal (by extension giving rise to a great many mobsters and accomplishing enough of nothing to be repealed just 13 years later).