Speakeasy in New York City - The Mona Lisa Club

..."one of the most lavishly appointed in the New York 'white light' district..."

Does a space carry the energy of it's past?

Part of being in an older Manhattan building is knowing that it has a past. Usually, we don't believe in holding onto the past (a topic for another post!), but this seems so interesting considering there has always been this energy in the space that we could never quite pinpoint. 

The Mona Lisa Club was a speakeasy during the Prohibition Era that occupied our building at 36 West 56th St. Midtown during the era was known as the 'white light' district because of the many speakeasies in the neighborhood.  This New York speakeasy had a public dining area occupying the first two floors. The third floor, part of our loft, served as the "private dining room", with the fourth and fifth floors serving as "store rooms".

 

An interior shot of the private dining area, which was located on the third floor of the building, after a raid.

 A copy of the Certificate of Occupancy from 1933, obtained from NYC Dept. of Buildings, showing the 'private dining room' was located on third floor.

The Mona Lisa Club was considered a high-end speakeasy with elite patrons. It was not immune to occasional police raids as seen in the images below.  After a raid in 1932, The Gazette of Schenectady, N.Y., described the club as "one of the most lavishly appointed in the New York 'white light' district." 

An exterior shot of the building after a raid. 

Another exterior shot of the building after a raid. 

The history of the building is fascinating and we have learned much more of it as we investigate its past. See you in the 'private dining room'!

Sources:

 Where the Gizmos Fizzled and the Gin Fizzed, NY Times Jan. 21, 2010

The 1882 William J. Morton Mansion - No. 36 West 56th Street, Daytonian in Manhattan, Oct 26, 2011 

Getty Images


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