Something so giddy and wild as New York City in the Jazz Age would have to burn out at some point but nobody expected the double catastrophe of a paralyzing financial crash and a wide-ranging government corruption scandal.
Mayor Jimmy Walker, in a race for a second term against a rising congressman named Fiorello La Guardia, might have had a few cocktails at the Central Park Casino after hearing of the pandemonium on Wall Street in late October 1929. The irresponsible speculation fueling the stock market of the Roaring 20's suddenly fell apart, turning princes into paupers overnight. Rumors spread among gathering crowds in front of the New York Stock Exchange of distraught traders throwing themselves out windows.
And yet a more immediately crisis was awaiting the party mayor of New York -- the investigations of Judge Samuel Seabury, steering a crackdown authorized by governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt to rid New York City of its deep-ceded, Tammany Hall-fueled corruption.
With the American economy in free fall and hundreds of New York politicians, police officers and judges falling to corruption revelations, the world needed a drink! Counting down to the last days of Prohibition....
PLUS: The fate of the fabulous Texas Guinan, the movie star turned Prohibition hostess who hit the road with a bawdy new burlesque -- that led to a tragic end.
This is the final part of our three-part NEW YORK IN THE JAZZ AGE podcast series. Check out our two prior episode #233 The Roaring '20s: The King of the Jazz Age and #234 Queen of the Speakeasies: A Tale of Prohibition New York