Secrets behind Detroit bar may go back 100 years

The work of anthropology Ph.D. student Brenna Moloney was profiled on WDIV-TV recently.

Uncovering Detroit's Bootlegging SecretWayne State University's Department of Anthropology researchers have uncovered evidence that may reveal bootlegging activities occurring during the 1920's prohibition era. Tommy's Bar, located near the Joe Louis Arena and Detroit River, is believed to have housed one of Detroit's 15,000 illegal speakeasies that flourished in the city following the Prohibition Act of 1919.

Many of the speakeasies were controlled by the purple gang which generated estimated revenue of $300 million a year, translating to almost $4 billion in today's economy.

Researchers found artifacts in the basement of the bar that also was believed to house an underground casino. A tunnel was dug in the basement which provided an escape hatch in case there were raids. It extends the full length of the building and exits at the rear of the site.

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