A 1931 story and map republished earlier this year analyzing the U.S. liquor industry is making the internet rounds today, and not surprisingly, Chicago plays a big role in the flow of suds.
Pulled from Fortune’s magazine archives, the article is a fascinating look at the then-illegal liquor business. There are some interesting parallels to be found with the Chicago Reader’s ongoing look at the city’s heroin business.
The first lesson a student of the liquor industry must learn concerns this very normalcy. Only in the fiction of the Sunday Supplement is the business of supplying the U. S. A. with alcoholic beverages any more glamorous or romantic than the business of supplying it with canned peaches or cellophane or steel.
Not surprisingly, Chicago played a big in the illegal distribution of liquor-
Illinois, most notorious of liquor states, is a great manufacturer, a lusty consumer, and an open distributor, running liquor and rackets jointly and profitably. Its tastes are eclectic. Big cities import from New Orleans and Savannah, and drink Detroit Bourbon; but in Egypt a favorite drink is half port wine, half corn whisky. Illinois drinks much beer, but has plenty left over to send to neighboring states. Export points for alcohol are Aurora, Cicero, and Chicago Heights.
[Fortune via Deadspin]