View of Battery Park and S. Ferry, during Prohibition Dead Man's Basin here

Battery Park in New York City was a center of Prohibition enforcement. The park is in lower Manhattan where the Hudson and East Rivers empty into Upper New York Bay.

Agencies responsible for enforcement

Three agencies responsible for enforcing Prohibition had offices near Battery Park. Customs was located in the historic Customs Building. (Today, it is a Native-American museum.) The Prohibition Bureau was also located there as well as the Office of Coast Guard Intelligence.

Barge Office

The Barge Office was used by both Customs and the Coast Guard. The office was next to the  ferry terminal, the one used today for the Staten Island ferry. Smaller boats seized with liquor were hauled to the dock at the Barge Office. Larger seized ships were anchored off Liberty Island.

Dead Man’s Basin

At Dead Man’s Basin, adjacent to the Barge Office, seized vessels of all sizes were auctioned off to the highest bidders. Some bidders represented smuggling rings. The new owners were  “dummy” owners for liquor syndicates.

Pictured below is a seized ship with its illegal liquor cargo still aboard. The liquor on it was stored in government warehouses or destroyed. Sometimes seized boats were not sold but given to the Coast Guard for its own use.

Guardsmen overseeing seized liquor with crowd watching in background behind iron gate.

Guardsmen overseeing seized liquor with crowd watching in background behind iron gate.

The recent photo below is a of dock at the westernmost end of Battery Point. This is  where water from the Hudson River meets water in New York’s upper harbor or bay. Is this building the original 19th century Customs dock where barges departed even during the 1920s?

[For more, see Smugglers, Bootleggers, and Scofflaws: Prohibition and New York City (SUNY Pres 2013). The book, less than 200 pages, is scholarly with extensive footnotes, primary documents, bibliography, and index as well as text and photographs.]

NYC first pier on Hudson River