Amid midtown Manhattan’s high-rise buildings stands a vestige of old New York. Three 19th century townhouses keep a secret buried deep inside -– the 21 Club.
The club opened as a speakeasy in 1929 and was one of the swankiest of the city’s approximately 32,000 illegal clubs during Prohibition. It’s one of the very few that still exist today.
"Anybody who was anybody who wanted to see and be seen would come to 21," said 21 Club general manager Bryan McGuire.
Famous faces, like Ernest Hemingway, Humphrey Bogart and Frank Sinatra were regulars, and even Hollywood has captured its glamorous appeal over the years in films like “Wall Street.”
But it wasn’t all good times and glamour for 21 Club. Federal agents targeted the bar during Prohibition. In fact, a gossip columnist was banned after he penned a column noting that Prohibition agents had never raided 21. The next day, law enforcement agents decended on the speakeasy and the owners vowed that day in 1930 never again to lose their precious liquor in a raid.
They hired an architect to design an ingenious and intricate system to hide and destroy liquor in case of future raids…
One of the Good Dead Ones - John Frankenheimer during his days inventing how live television was made. There are a few exceptional interview pieces with the man about that time; one is on the Criterion Collection edition called THE GOLDEN AGE OF TELEVISION (where these were taken from) and the quite-frankly indispensable Archive of American Television, which has a staggering 13-part interview with him there. His patience waxes and wanes with the kid interviewing him, but he’s sharp, funny, vivid and crackling with intelligence.