POSTED Tue. Oct 11, 2016

NOLA History

A City of Bad Temperance

Prohibition came and went, wreaking havoc and scoring small victories in other parts of the country, but, unsurprisingly to anyone, New Orleans never stopped drinking. As we’re enjoying a cocktail Renaissance of sorts, it’s appropriate to pause and explore how history has shaped our drinking habits.

“It makes me proud, almost, to know that the debauch has continued uninterrupted since 1718,” says Hannah Griggs, who curated Prohibition Raids in New Orleans, 1919-1933, an interactive exhibit now on display in The Museum of the American Cocktail, which is housed inside the Southern Food & Beverage Museum.

Griggs is quick to point out that while the Prohibition era is sometimes hailed as the Golden Age of drinking, it wasn’t.

“People died from poisonous bootlegged liquor, and lives were destroyed and rights infringed upon for doing the things they had always done,” says Griggs.

On July 1, 1919, a year after the 18th Amendment was narrowly passed by a 21-20 vote in the Senate, the sale of alcoholic beverages became prohibited. At the time the National Prohibition Act was carried out, New Orleans was home to some 5,000 bars.

It’s no wonder that a city with such a lively and lucrative drinking culture became a center for bootlegging throughout the Gulf South, flaunting its opposition to the 18th Amendment in both production and consumption. Many establishments defied the ban on alcoholic beverages, and liquor remained widely available.

Referred to by the historian Joy Jackson as “the unlikeliest crusade,” the period of Prohibition also saw a rise in organized crime, bribery of public officials, and an increase in gang activity.

Louisiana Prohibition Director O.D. Jackson played hardball and sent his agents to raid hundreds of establishments – restaurants, breweries, barbershops, cafes, speakeasies, saloons, corner stores, cabarets, pharmacies, you name it – resulting in massive arrests. (Even Commander’s Palace was raided in 1921!). The Times-Picayune diligently published the names and addresses of the violators on an almost daily basis.

The online exhibit, which takes the form of a raid map, visualizes the impact of the Volstead Act (as the National Prohibition Act was often called) on the lives and neighborhoods of New Orleanians between 1919 and 1933. Each dot on the map represents a raid; the color of the dots indicates specific years. You can zoom into different neighborhoods and click on each dot to reveal the raid’s details.

Griggs, an adjunct professor at Boston College and a Ponchatoula native, runs, a digital project archiving cocktail culture in New Orleans. The site currently houses the online component of this exhibit, which you can explore here.

According to Griggs, the bulk of mapped raids occurred at private residences where citizens were arrested for brewing their own. She says the data is incomplete, even with 507 raids mapped as of June this year. (Griggs plans to keep mapping; you can also follow Intemperance on Twitter to receive updates on the project).

“I love New Orleans, and I honestly believed it was the center of the world until I moved to Boston for graduate school,” says Griggs. “When I started my Master’s degree at Boston College, I realized I knew absolutely nothing about the history of New Orleans or Louisiana. You have to leave, I suppose, to really appreciate what it means to be from the South. I became fascinated – obsessed, really – with the history of Louisiana. It’s riveting and hilarious and beautiful and devastating, all at once.”

Her “epicurean tendencies,” Griggs says, combined with a love for the South, led to creating a map for a digital humanities class project in graduate school that showed “the relationship between drinking/cocktail culture and the rise of the middle class at the end of the 19th century through the 20th.” That became the catalyst for the current Prohibition raids project.

Visiting the Museum of the American Cocktail for the first time last January sealed the deal. Griggs says she “nearly fainted with excitement – on the wall were bottles, advertisements, and publications from companies that I had found in my research, as well as some that I hadn’t heard of before…my research fit in really well with their Prohibition display.”

All of the data on Prohibition raids came from The Times-Picayune’s historic archives and was painstakingly logged by hand. “I built the entire exhibit from scratch,” notes Griggs.

“The T-P would print the names and addresses of people whose homes and businesses were raided by Prohibition agents… [It] would also print these crazy stories of things people would do to hide liquor and avoid arrest, like building trapdoors and elaborate booby traps. People jumped out of buildings and would start shootouts with Prohibition agents,” she adds.

The Museum of the American Cocktail is located inside the Southern Food & Beverage Museum at 1504 Oretha C. Haley Boulevard. The museum is open Wednesday through Monday (closed Tuesday), 11am-5:30pm. Ticket prices: Adults: $10; Students, Military, Seniors: $5; Children under 12: Free.

Image via

POSTED Dec 30, 2016

NOLA History

Bearing Witness at the Whitney Plantation

Bearing Witness at the Whitney Plantation

Visitors to New Orleans often make day trips to the old Gold Coast plantations along the Mississippi river, where wealthy landowners made a fortune growing sugarcane harvested with…....

Written by CREE MCCREE
POSTED Dec 5, 2016

Creative Culture

The Mermaid Lounge Rises Again

The Mermaid Lounge Rises Again

“Did you hear!? The Mermaid is closing!” Twelve years ago this month, in December 2004, that news was greeted with stunned disbelief by the hundreds of musicians, artists…....

Written by CREE MCCREE
POSTED Nov 30, 2016


Celebrating the Season the Islenos Way

Celebrating the Season the Islenos Way

The last vestiges of Spanish Colonial Louisiana reside in the least fancy of places: New Orleans East. Out in St Bernard Parish, just before the land tapers off…....

POSTED Nov 29, 2016

Creative Culture

A Creole's 'Krazy' Take on the Comics

A Creole's 'Krazy' Take on the Comics

When I moved to New Orleans in 2001, Michael Tisserand was then editor-in-chief at Gambit Weekly. When I worked there, I found him smart, funny, and deeply sympathetic…....


    Our Local Publisher Partners

    • The Arts Council of New Orleans
    • WWNO
    • WWOZ
    • PRC
    • NOMA
    • The Historic New Orleans Collection
    • Southern Food
    • Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
    The Arts Council of New Orleans

    The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.


    WWNO, the NPR member station for New Orleans, serves southeast Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi by broadcasting balanced news, thought provoking analysis, classical music, jazz and other musical styles, intelligent entertainment, and unique local content. We broadcast on 89.9 FM, and KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area as a public service of the University of New Orleans. All of WWNO’s programs, including its growing local news coverage, are available online at


    WWOZ 90.7 FM is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station offering listener-supported, volunteer-programmed community radio. WWOZ covers many events live in and around the city and across the United States, and broadcasts live from the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival annually. WWOZ’s mission is to be the worldwide voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage.


    Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.


    As a nexus for the arts in New Orleans, NOMA is committed to preserving, interpreting, and enriching its collections and renowned sculpture garden; offering innovative experiences for learning and interpretation; and uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures.

    The Historic New Orleans Collection

    The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Its holdings comprise more than one million items from more than three centuries, documenting moments both major and minor. Its four exhibition spaces–the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art–faithfully depict the multicultural stories of the region, from permanent displays exploring the evolution of Louisiana to rotating exhibitions showcasing history and fine art.

    Southern Food

    The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

    Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.



    was added to your favorites.



    Share On Twitter Share On Facebook