Thursday, December 3, 2009

Secret Prohibition-era bowling alley uncovered

From Scouting NY:

We recently purchased a building in Queens, and while clearing out the basement we discovered a two lane manual bowling alley in very good condition. We did some research and this basement was most probably a club during the prohibition era. Would you or someone you know be interested [in the space]?

A hidden prohibition-era bowling alley? Yes, definitely interested. I took a trip to see it today – Just incredible:

According to the owner, the bowling lanes were hidden under boxes and boxes of junk. After researching the property, the owner now believes the basement was a speak-easy club during the Prohibition Era, with two bowling lanes to entertain customers.

I understand the building is in Ridgewood.


Anonymous said...

If my memory of pre-school isnt too hazy, there is a pair of bowling lanes in the basement of the Salvation Army just off Fresh Pond Road.

I know there was bowling there, but what it looked like is hard to remember, if it was an old manual system like this or not.

-Joe said...

Salvation Army just off Fresh Pond Road.
YEP I was played bowling on that ally as a kid.
It was near the old German school near the 104 PCT.
(That triangle where the old Strauss store was, I forgot the name of it)
This 60 hippie Ritchie ran the place, he had just gotten out of jail.

The pins were wooden, (dark wood)you had to set them by hand. The place was real ram shackle in an interesting way

-Joe said...

Looking at more photos the Scouting NY braught back more memorys.
The damage to the lanes was there even back then (early 70's)
As kids we went to the Salvation army to hank out and play guitars.
We couldnt hang with the German kids in Ridgewood.
They as well as parents hated most non Germans. The Germans kids would start in and jump us after school at least one a week however WE GOT IN TROUBLE OR SUSPENDED !
We were outcasts just like the guy who ran the place.

At the time there were all sorts of things to do there, play guitars, drums, Bass, Pool, Bowling, Basketball, old shortwave radios people dumped in that basement, checking out snakes and things on the railroad tracks and old switching tower behind it.

I doubt it was a bar. I think it was an old school or some sort of stop for the railroad ages ago


faster340 said...

That's cool. I like finds like this.

BABS said...


Babs said...

Joe - I'm sorry but my memories of Ridgewood are quite different than yours.

The Germans and the Italians that I knew that lived in Ridgewood during the late 60s and early 70s ALLLLLL - not only got along - but MARRIED. AND I knew MANY!

. . . . Perhaps you were beaten up by the German kids for another reason.

Anonymous said...

I know Italians that married Polish. But never German.

georgetheatheist said...

My German cousin married an Italian guy. They eat meatballs with sauerkraut.

-Joe said...

Not on by block (Seneca and Norman)Babs.
The Germans HATED all the Italians that were migrating from Bushwick.
Thaught they were PR's at first

Some kids on the block were cool (thaught I was German) till the parents found out I was Blue eyed Sicilian.
--Then forgedaboutdit.
At the time there were no Polish people I knew of

BTW -I never got "beaten up"
I had learned many things from the "corner men" in Bushwick.
I was also 6'1 175 by age 15.
Those old Gambinos were great. They would give all the Italian kids self defense lessons every Friday after school.
Even old ladys ---They got umbrellas with the slide tubes and handles filled with lead.
At the time Buswick had become a war zone

Babs said...

Anonymous said - "I know Italians that married Polish. But never German."

well - now you do - me.

My first husband was a dark haired Italian American, I am a blonde haired, green-eyed German American - we lived happily ever - for awhile anyway.

It is quite natural for people who live / go to school / work with others outside of their own culture to mate. In the 60s and 70s most of us were either 3rd or 2nd generation Americans whose parents fought in WWII. We did not have the "immigrant experience" - English was our language and American was our culture - we related to the other kids from our various middle class neighborhoods - AND attracted much of the time to those who did NOT look like our brothers and sisters.

Babs said...

Joe -

your comments are very interesting to me - you mention Bushwick - I am going to take a guess that you are older than I - because I recall Bushwick NOT being an Italian neighborhood.

I remember many of the "old Gambinos" too - yes, they were great. My father-in-law was one of them, and he was a wonderful man.

Babs said...

georgetheatheist said...
"My German cousin married an Italian guy. They eat meatballs with sauerkraut."

LOL - there ya' go - the first "fusion" food. . . .

-Joe said...

Bushwick was a paradise up untill in the late 60s.
I remember sleeping in the yard on hot summer nights (those 1920s houses used 10 amp fuse boxes and couldnt run air conditioners at the time)
My Grandfather and uncle ran the gas line into the yard to cook stir giant vats of tomato sauce all night long for the resteraunt.
My uncle had a giant yard of perhaps 400 of tomato types plants on Central ave by St.Barberas

I grew up both on Dekalb and Evergreen & Troutman and Knickerbocker (mothers side is Gambino BTW)
I went to St.Leonards
Good read about that shithole of batshit crazy German nuns hating Italian kids here:;action=display;threadid=19113

Both that immigration act 1965 and the Nam war messed it all up. it created Mortgage scandals for Mayor Lindsays 3rd world garbage housing and huge demand for hard drugs due to returning Vietnam war addicts

People laugh about me hanging out with bums at the Salvation army as a kid-- however.
If it werent for those old guys showing me how to play blues and guitar id likey have nothing or be in jail today.

--I wasnt going to work behind a desk or for a boss thats for sure

georgetheatheist said...

That's when he cooks. When she cooks, it's knockwurst with linguini.

Babs said...

Joe -

I liked your little story about old Bushwick.

"German nuns hating Italian kids" -

I didn't go to Catholic schools - but, I recall MANY stories from my then friends about nuns or the Brothers literally beating up kids in school. I assume where you went to school German nuns predominated. They were allowed to be mean then - so I guess they were! I am not from Ridgewood - but I did hang out there quite often in my teens - my first husband grew up there.

P.S. - I LOVE a blues guitar too - last night an old concert of Stevie Ray's was on cable.

George - till this day, I cook like my German mother AND my Italian mother-in-law.

Anonymous said...

This is gold, baby. Get this thing on eBay and clean up! There are collectors out there who would love this stuff and pay you for the privilege of hauling it away.