Image via Stanley Greenberg
We know the cavernous passageways and underground chambers of the Brooklyn Bridge hold many secrets–6sqft previously mentioned the Cold War-era bomb shelter, chock-full of supplies and provisions, hidden inside one of the massive stone arches below the bridge’s Manhattan side entrance. But the landmark also harbors a more pleasant secret: In the 1900s, the city rented out vaults beneath the ramps leading up to the bridge entrances for use as wine cellars (h/t NYT). A wine vault on the Manhattan side cost $5,000 a year, while Brooklyn-side storage was a mere $500 annually.
The vaults were perfect for wine storage due to their near-complete-darkness, as well as their consistently cool temperature. The rental income helped offset the debt from bridge construction. Prohibition put the brakes on this fortuitous pairing, but the minute the 18th amendment was repealed by the 21st in 1933, enterprising entrepreneurs got the corks popping again, beginning with a wine and liquor distributor who secured a vault for 5,000 cases of alcohol and proceeded to throw a party in the taproom. According to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article from the time, “musicians played Viennese waltzes, champagne corks popped and nobody remembered that above the trolleys and the elevators, the automobiles and the rushing pedestrians still hurried back and forth.” The vaults are now used to store maintenance equipment.
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