Speakeasy does it
Lake Claremont Press releases Sean Parnell's Historic Bars of Chicago in May. Here are five bars that survived Prohibition.
Green Mill, 4802 N Broadway, 773-878-5552
Maybe the most famous Prohibition-era bar, this jazzy watering hole was believed to be controlled by Al Capone and operated openly by “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn. Parnell says the police would occasionally complete a bust for show, knowing full well that important customers escaped through a network of underground tunnels.
Green Door Tavern, 678 N Orleans St, 312-664-5496
Another haunt that famously survived Prohibition, this River North bar masqueraded as a restaurant. The basement of the bar hid a speakeasy, which is now decorated with Prohibition ephemera.
Schaller’s Pump, 3714 S Halsted St, 773-376-6332
Parnell says this Bridgeport spot is likely the oldest continuously run bar in Chicago, having opened in 1881. Dubbed a “pump,” it was fed beer in a direct line from a brewery, which stood in place of today’s parking lot. At least five mayors have been rumored to visit the pump. “During Prohibition, the politicians needed a place to drink, just like everyone else,” Parnell says.
John Barleycorn, 658 W Belden Ave, 773-348-8899
One of the more creative speakeasies, this spot fronted as a laundromat; alcohol entered on carts below a heap of dirty clothes. Parnell says John Dillinger was known to stop in and buy the house a round.
Southport Lanes, 3325 N Southport Ave, 773-472-6600
One of several former Schlitz bars, this venue was called a “tide bar.” Unlike “public houses,” which served several beer brands, tide bars provided only one brewer’s beer. Many Chicago drinking locales still boast the Schlitz logo, a three-dimensional globe poking out above the doorway. One of the more notorious spots, Southport Lanes hid a brothel upstairs.