Edit ModuleShow Tags

History Alive: The 1920s


Published:

When I think about the 1920s, my mind automatically transports me to scenes from Midnight in Paris. I picture the Fitzgerald sipping cocktails with Hemmingway, a Peugeot Type 176 driving by, and all passerbys clothed in flapper-style dresses or simple suits and fedoras. Of course, aside from the jazz, style, and nightlife, there was a fair amount of drama going on in the U.S., often not portrayed in these glamorous 1920s-era films.

On January 7, 1920, the 18th Amendment was added to the constitution, prohibiting the manufacture, selling and transport of alcohol. And while this affected the entire country,

Photo courtesy of the library of congress

Minnesota has it’s own story. The Volstead Act, which designated how the amendment was enforced, was named after Andrew Volstead, a U.S. representative from Granite Falls, Minn. The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda lived and partied in St. Paul, inspiring the term Jazz Age to be used to describe the youth of that time. Formerly standing St. Paul clubs like The Boulevards of Paris and Coliseum Pavilion became a gathering spot for those sneaking drinks, while the city also became a hideout for a number of famous criminals, including Baby Face Nelson and John Dillinger.

The Minnesota History Center is offering a rare look at this constitutional hiccup in their latest exhibit, American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, which opens Friday. This is the first comprehensive exhibit of its kind, in which you can experience what life was like in the era of bootleggers, flappers, suffragists, and temperance workers.

This movement, of course, started because of America’s drinking problem; consumption in the mid-1800s was three times greater than it is today. Learn about those who were against the habit by sitting in a recreated early 1900s church and hearing about the rise of the Anti-Saloon League, and take a quiz to find out if you would have been a “wet” or a “dry.” You can also view related artifacts, including Anheuser-Busch branded glasses and art, a hatchet used by Carry Nation in a barroom-smashing raid and bootlegger stills and flasks made to look like everyday items. No matter whether you’re deemed a “wet” or a “dry,” both will enjoy learning to dance the Charleston in a recreated speakeasy, or pretending to be a federal Prohibition agent pursuing rumrunners in a custom-designed video game. As a keepsake, get your mug shot taken with mobsters and gangsters like Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, and Meyer Lansky.

Due in part to the rise of organized crime and the effects of the Great Depression, Prohibition was revoked in 1933. Sit in a 1930s-style theater and see how Americans celebrated the repeal and return of legal beer, view Minnesota’s original copy of the 21st Amendment, and see a map that identifies Prohibition’s lasting effects.

If the era fascinates you like it does me, you should also consider attending our Fine Spirits Classic event, which will take place on repeal day—December 5. Sample high end spirits that any of the “wets” would’ve downed, enjoy bites, and be entertained by local bartenders and music. You can purchase tickets here

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

Learn about the contributing writers.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Travel Blog

Record Store Day: Where to Find Rare Releases in MN

On April 21, rock out at mini-music festivals around the state, dig into gourmet donuts, and collect the rare vinyls available one time a year

Catch the Lyrids Meteor Shower

The meteor shower peaks April 21 and 22, just in time for Earth Day

A Day Trip to Excelsior

Just 20 miles west of the Twin Cities, this waterfront town is complete with charming shops and lakeside dining

Night Art Gallery Is Your Sober Night Out

The Lindstrom art gallery entertains with hors d'oeuvres, tons of art available for purchase, and non-alcholic drinks

Weekend Activities to Satisfy Your Inner-Child

Check out these weekend activities that will have you feeling like a kid again.

Sue Z.'s Charitable Check-In: April

Sue Z.'s picks for philanthropic food events in April will have you supporting women chefs, sipping crafty cocktails, and celebrating Cookie Cart's 30th birthday

A Day Trip to Waconia

Enjoy great views, dining, and craft beverage destinations in this West Metro lakeside town

11 Easter Egg Hunts: From Flashlights to Geocaching

Yes, there's an annual adults-only Easter egg hunt in Rochester—and another for dogs, and another with geocaching, and another that drops them out of the sky. Check out more of the best egg hunts around Minnesota.

Rock Climbing in Minnesota

Rock on this spring at climbing gyms and favorite outdoor spots around Minnesota

5 Natural Wonders in Minnesota

Mother Nature takes the best selfies

Bad Axe Throwing Opens Minneapolis Location

Axe throwing makes its debut in Northeast Minneapolis—and it's not as dangerous as it sounds

Visit Award-Winning Minnesota Distilleries

Tattersall Distilling, J. Carver Distillery, and RockFilter Distillery are all worth the trip

Sue Z.'s Charitable Check-In: March

Sue Z. picks Cochon555 as her philanthropic food event this month

5 Must-See Minnesota Public Gardens

Visiting these botanical wonders are sure to make your daisy
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags