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The Story Behind Southern California’s Underground Tunnel Will Fascinate You

Few people are aware that beneath its sunny topside appearance, Los Angeles is hiding a network of secret tunnels that once served as a haven for bootleggers and partiers during the Prohibition era.

Over 11 miles of service tunnels provided an easy way for people to continue distributing and enjoying alcohol while the rest of the city dried up. Secret bars were set up within the tunnels with inconspicuous fronts above.

The King Eddy Saloon on 5th and Main converted their aboveground premises into a fake piano store, while patrons enjoyed their real wares belowdecks. Even though the saloon is now operating openly again, the basement is still filled with relics from its time as a secret bar.

Though the people who caroused in these tunnels were technically criminals, the supply of liquor was actually regulated from an unlikely spot: the L.A. mayor’s office. Despite the prohibition on drinking, Los Angeles was a city that just couldn’t stop partying.

These tunnels weren’t used exclusively for mischief, however. Some of them are abandoned subway routes and equestrian paths. The city supposedly uses the tunnels to transport dangerous criminals and large sums of money without risking transit on the streets. City employees occasionally use the tunnels as shortcuts between offices, and runners even train in the tunnels during bouts of bad weather.

The tunnels are officially closed to the public. The entrance is behind the Hall of Records on Temple street via a hard-to-spot elevator.

Have you ever been in these tunnels? Tell us about your experience!

Sophia
Massachusetts native. Freelance writer and strawberry eater. Get in touch: smitrokostas@onlyinyourstate.com.