Library of Congress
February 26, 2017

Surprise: The Brooklyn Bridge was once a hopping party spot for socialites in the 1930s. We're not talking about big soirées held on the bridge itself, but underneath it in a 50-foot wine cellar that's no longer open to the public.

Shut down during World War II for security reasons, the vault once housed multiple chambers full of wine stacked up to the ceiling. The entire cellar is located in the two anchorages on either sides of the bridge. According to The New York Times, two businesses were knocked out of the way when construction for the bridge began: Rackey's Wine Company and Luyties & Co.

Photo: Museum of the City of New York

To make the best of a potential financial disaster—the bridge did cost $15 million to build, after all—engineer John Roebling built it rentable spaces in the base of the bridge's beginning and end to help offset the overall cost. Given the chambers' environment—very dark, and very cool—it only made sense for liquor and wine retailers to jump on the opportunity. Both Rackeys and Luyties rented space in the bridge's vaults.

Gill E/Flickr

Today, no one is exactly sure how big this cellar is. Not many people alive today have experienced it in its heyday, and we only have archival photos to go off of. One thing's for sure: If they ever decided to recreate the party scene that the Brooklyn Bridge underground once was, it would still be just as popular today.

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