Bay Ridge Liquor Store Moves—Into Former Hotbed of Prohibition-Era Bootlegging!

McGovern's Wines and Liquors
Via Facebook

This weekend, McGovern’s Wines and Liquors will celebrate its move from its long-time home at 7207 Third Avenue into the old Eco Foods supermarket space at 7304 Third Avenue. Fred Golden, Harry Faber, Edward Williams, Jack Sobel and Harry Martin would surely see some irony here, were they still alive—all five were arrested at this address, in separate incidents in the 1930s, for possessing then-illegal alcohol.

7304 Third Avenue had always been a grocery store, even when there was a different building there. The address’ earliest mention in the Brooklyn Eagle is in March 1921, as one of dozens of branch stores of the H. C. Bohack Company, a leading supermarket chain in New York that lasted until 1974, when it entered bankruptcy proceedings. (Prior to the Bohack’s, a larger building was on the lot, number 7306; what it housed, I don’t know.) But the Bohack’s was in a different building, one that, apparently, also included housing, as it’s listed in the 20s as a home address for various peoples—the recently married, the winner of a dog show and a puppy breedera veteran and the owners of sewing machines and motorcycles.

The present building was built in 1931, according to department of buildings records, though why the old one was torn down is unclear. It was leased to the United Brooklyn Markets, according to the Eagle, although that article is literally the only mention on the Googleable Internet of a company by that name. (Next door was a dairy!) But apparently United Brooklyn Markets stocked more than groceries.

The first arrest came a year later, in June 1932. Prohibition had been law for 12 years when Fred Golden, a 43-year-old who lived in East New York, was apprehended at 7304 as part of a citywide roundup. Five months later, in November 1932, 22-year-old Harry Faber “of Manhattan” was arrested there, charged with selling liquor and held on $1,000 bail.

Less than two weeks later, the Eagle reported that Edward Williams, who lived in the apartment building at 314 79th Street, was also arrested there, allegedly in possession of nine quarts of gin, one quart of rum, two quarts of wine, one quart and 12 pints of whiskey, and another five pints of “alleged alcohol.” The following May, Jack Sobel of E. 112th Street in Manhattan was arrested there, with ten quarts of gin, seven pints of whiskey, three pints of “alleged alcohol” and a box with approximately 1,000 liquor ads.

Harry Martin, of 1980 65th Street, was also arrested at the address that month, with much more booze than Edward Williams and Jack Sobel combined: 73 quarts of gin, eight pints of whiskey, and one gallon and 13 pints of misc. “alleged alcohol.” He also had bootlegger paraphernalia: half a pint of coloring fluid, a gallon of glycerine, two funnels and 10 feet of rubber hose.

Prohibition was repealed that December, 1933, and if there were anymore raids at 7304 Third Avenue leading up to it, they weren’t reported in the local paper.

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Eco Food 1980s
Eco Food in the 1980s, via department of records
Eco Food
Eco Food more recently, via Google
  • Ryan

    Really cool history!