Los Angeles, CA

The underground tunnels of Los Angeles were used during prohibition to help create the speakeasy scene

Sara B

Underneath Los Angeles are 11 miles of forgotten service tunnels primarily used during prohibition. Prohibition started on January 17, 1920, when the Volstead Act banned the manufacturing, consumption, transportation, and sale of alcohol in the US and lasted until December 1933.

However, some have called it a ¨failed experiment that glamorized illegal drinking¨. Nevertheless, it was a win for the gangsters and bootleggers, who helped to create the underground drinking scene, and in LA, the tunnels were crucial for creating one of the best underground scenes in the country.

It is reported that the Mayor's office supplied the booze to the speakeasies through the underground tunnels. Prohibition was difficult to enforce, especially in LA, where the underground tunnels became the conduits of smuggling and passageways to the basement speakeasies.

The tunnels were created to help with congestion in the downtown LA area. Some were used for service tunnels and other tunnels for streetcars, and some for moving cash. There is also an abandoned subway and equestrian tunnel underneath LA.

Construction began around 1901 near Bunker and Hill Street; even Pacific Electric Red Cars began to create their system of tunnels and smaller passageways linking buildings all underground. But unfortunately, most of the tunnels were abandoned by 1920.

Which was the perfect time for prohibition, and then the tunnels had a new reason to be utilized. There were also rumors that the police used the tunnels to escort prisoners and that banks transported large sums of cash. Other rumors were the mobsters and the coroner used the area to store bodies.

Unfortunately, many tunnels have been forgotten and lost. There is a way to access the tunnel from an elevator hidden behind the Hall of Records on Temple Street. However, the tunnels are officially closed off to the public. The tunnels are not maintained and can be dangerous with rough terrain.

One of the most popular speakeasies that still exists today is King Eddy Saloon. During prohibition, the speakeasy was in the basement, and the upstairs, now the bar area, was a piano store. When I lived in downtown LA, I remember going to King Eddy's Saloon, and I always thought it had a fascinating charm. However, I just learned its history now.

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Pasadena, CA

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