Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Bootlegging


St. Valentine's Day Massacre, 1929
Despite national Prohibition, many Chicagoans sought alcoholic beverages during the 1920s. To meet this demand, large organizations brewed beer and imported and distributed liquor; thousands of families manufactured bootleg, providing access to the decade's prosperity; and neighborhood “soft drink parlors” sold these illegal products. Bootlegging thus undermined the Prohibitionists' great social experiment. Official efforts to stop bootlegging were halfhearted, though supply restrictions meant bootleg booze was often of inferior quality. Competition over bootlegging markets turned so violent that gangs, alcohol, and crime became a permanent part of Chicago's reputation.

Allsop, Kenneth. The Bootleggers and Their Era. 1961.
Blocker, Jack S. American Temperance Movements: Cycles of Reform. 1989.
Haller, Mark H. “Bootlegging: The Business and Politics of Violence.” In Violence in America, vol. 1, The History of Crime, ed. Ted Robert Gurr. 1989.