After being unable to drink legally since 1919 due to the National Prohibition Act, Clevelanders shed a tear of joy on Feb. 20, 1933, as Congress passed the 21st Amendment, which officially repealed Prohibition. Despite the vote not going into effect until Dec. 23, 1933, Feb. 20 was a day of jubilation in bars and restaurants across Cleveland, with these unidentified patrons of the Hollenden Hotel raising their glasses in celebration.
Even with Prohibition in place, Clevelanders found a way to knock back their fair share of drinks in the 1920s — despite only about 50 of the city’s 1,028 bars staying open. But with the rise of bootlegging (thanks in large part to the presence of the lake), alcohol was never too hard to get in Cleveland.
It’s no surprise that these revelers chose the Hollenden as the place they went to celebrate. One of the premier hotels in Cleveland, the 1,000-room Hollenden opened on June 7, 1885, and was considered a marvel for its time due to each room having electric lights. Along with housing both permanent and temporary residents, it had a theater, barbershop and several bars.
The hotel was purchased by real estate developer Ben Tobin in the 1930s. It closed in 1962 and was demolished in 1963. In 1965, a new hotel, under the name the Hollenden House, was built on the site. The new name didn’t do much, though, as the hotel closed and was torn down in 1989. It’s now the location of the Fifth Third Center in downtown Cleveland.