"Broads, Bootleggers and Bookies" - The Roaring 20s Come to Life

Raziel Ungar

Raziel Ungar

December 29th, 2011 - 1 min read

The front of the Old San Mateo County Courthou...

There’s just a little time left for you to get a glimpse of life on the Peninsula during the Roaring 20s, when San Mateo County was considered “the most corrupt” in California (if you can believe it!). The San Mateo County History Museum “Broads, Bootleggers & Bookies” exhibit, which opened last February, will close on December 31.

Step into the past, where you will be met by video interviews that tell of local capers, including one interview with a lighthouse keeper’s daughter who recalled seeing rumrunners operate by moonlight. Learn about local speakeasies, such as Half Moon Bay’s Moss Beach Distillery and the Miramar Beach Restaurant, which was called the Ocean Beach Hotel during Prohibition.   This hotel was originally designed and built as a Prohibition roadhouse, and there were secret compartments and revolving kitchen doors built into the building as places to hide contraband.  The upstairs of the Miramar served as the Bordello.  (They even boast their own "ghost".) You can explore the museum “speakeasy’s” kitchen to discover the clever spots used for the hidden liquor.

The era was not only marked by Prohibition, but by illegal gambling dens with bookies, blackjack, slot machines and a wheel of fortune, and you can see what it was like to enter one of these underground "clubs".

The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students. Children 5 and under are free.

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