8 Fascinating Speakeasies that Helped the 1920s Roar
8 Fascinating Speakeasies that Helped the 1920s Roar

8 Fascinating Speakeasies that Helped the 1920s Roar

Larry Holzwarth - November 10, 2017

8 Fascinating Speakeasies that Helped the 1920s Roar
One use of Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse was to warn patrons if the Coast Guard got too close to Cap’s Place. Wikimedia

Cap’s Place

The citizens of South Florida were so disdainful of Prohibition that it would seem as if speakeasies were unnecessary. Rumrunners and bootleggers were rife and the police exhibited little interest in stopping them from completing their self-appointed rounds. When they did, the courts and juries were hesitant to convict. In one famous case, a New York real estate magnate (and bootlegger) named Harry Black was arrested with more than 50 cases of liquor stashed in his private railroad car. When bottles of the illicit liquor were used as evidence in his trial four members of the jury insisted on sampling them to ensure that they did in fact contain booze. The jury deliberated for less than ten minutes before Harry Black was found not guilty.

Regardless, some entrepreneurs opened blind pigs and speakeasies, and one such was Lighthouse Point’s Cap’s Unique. Cap’s was opened by Eugene “Cap’s” Knight, a former merchant mariner, sometime fisherman, and enthusiastic rum rummer. Cap beached a barge near a small inlet and erected a bar and gambling facility using the barge as a base. Because he was well known to the locals as “Cap” the establishment became universally referred to as Cap’s Place.

Cap’s was quickly popular as a gambling and drinking establishment and while it was well known for its illegal activities it was mostly left alone. Soon additional buildings were erected on the nearby shore, mostly for legal activities, though some were used to store additional liquor and other supplies.

Cap’s was reachable only by water, which provided additional security in the unlikely event that the authorities would attempt to curtail the fun. A thirsty hopeful would park near Hillsboro beach facing the speakeasy and flash headlights, in a previously agreed pattern. If the pattern was correct a small boat would emerge from the shadows of the barge and row ashore to collect the patron.

Nearby Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse was used as a vantage point to ensure there was no encroachment by federal officers or the Coast Guard approaching by sea. The Lighthouse, manned by Cap’s brother Tom, would flash its beacon when unknown vessels got too near. Since 1990 Cap’s Place, formerly patronized by Al Capone, Meyer Lansky, Humphrey Bogart (while filming Key Largo), and more recently George Harrison and Mariah Carey, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Advertisement