Speakeasies had many uses. Besides drinking, speakeasies were used as storage rooms for their dank, cool climate typically constructed in full or in part by stone. Bedford, Indiana had plentiful quarries of limestone which were shipped into Chicago and were attributed to the Greystone style of residential architecture. Some speakeasies were also hidden by residential fronts. Considering the accessibility of the stone, it would be no surprise to see it used throughout the city, especially considering the anti-inflammatory nature of the stone which was a high priority to rebuild Chicago after the city fire of 1871. Speakeasies were also escape routes for those breaking the law inside its walls. More often than not, a small door was installed in a discreet corner of the speakeasy to allow for escape of lawbreakers, gang members, and bootleggers. The front door of the speakeasy was usually very thick, metal, and could contain a peephole or slide for the more discreet institutions unless it was well hidden in a large building of a reputable business. In these depressing settings, patrons and owners took to decorating their spaces with drawings, paintings, and mosaics along with decor. Furniture had to remain economical, usually consisting of a bar without stools, small tables, and small chairs. That way, extra space could me made or saved for a dance floor.
The industrial feel of Chicago from the ’20s comes from the use of stone for major structural security and the addition of steel and other metals as the city grew. Major roadways, railways, and building expansions began to blend these two looks together. The use of the telephone, electric light, and other conveniences were also becoming more common, leading to exposed wiring in and out of doors. The blend of many materials is what gave Chicago its look. The Art Nouveau style was popular in Chicago. Chicago commonly used steel and glass to the benefit of Art Nouveau, enhancing the industrial look.
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