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Monday, December 5, 2011


On December 5, 1933, at 2:00 p.m., the 18th Amendment -- Prohibition -- was repealed, finally ending the so-called "noble experiment."

As we write in Inside the Apple:
The 18th Amendment, passed by Congress in December 1917 and ratified by the majority of the states in January 1919, was the outgrowth of years of temperance crusading in America. While there was always a moralistic tone to the temperance movement, there was also a genuine desire to improve public health. In no era did Americans drink as much as they did in the late 19th century. Alcohol was cheap, it was served at saloons that acted as de facto community centers, and it was considered by most immigrant New Yorkers to be safer than water. In Tompkins Square Park, in the middle of Kleindeutschland, Henry Cogswell, a crusading dentist from San Francisco, set up a temperance fountain in 1888 to provide clean drinking water and convince the Germans there to stop drinking beer—and stop feeding it to their children. Similarly, a working dairy was planned for Central Park directly next to the German children’s playground (called the “Kinderberg”), where children would be provided with free, uncontaminated milk. (The rustic Dairy was built, but no cows were ever brought to the park and it ended up as a restaurant. Today’s it’s the park’s gift shop.)
Read more about repeal in our blog post from 2008, or if you haven't seen it already, take a look at Ken Burns's Prohibition, which tells the sad story of the 18th Amendment from start to finish.

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And don't forget to pick up a copy of Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City

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