Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What Went Before? 1710 N. Las Palmas

During the mid-thirties 1710 N. Las Palmas was home to The Swing Club, an 'Exclusive Club for Members and Their Guests Only'. Prohibition was over but the place had a nasty habit of serving alcohol to undercover cops from the hours of 2am and 6am, they soon were subject to raids. In February 1938 the club's operator, H.S. 'Babe' Hensley, found himself on a list of 30 individuals that were deemed to have some knowledge of the 'vice and gambling situation in Los Angeles' by the Assembly Committee on Public Morals. He was in good company- the list also named (corrupt) Mayor Frank Shaw.

In May 1938 the 1710 Club opened at the same location, again with Babe Hensley as the operator or as he called himself 'Managing Director'. By mid-1939 Hensley had changed the name yet again, now it was Club 17. Club 17 had the same nasty habit as The Swing Club. At 2:30am on Tuesday, October 24, 1939, raiding officers found 150 after-hours customers at Club 17, nearly all had a bottle of liquor on their table. Management's latest idea to get around the 2am closing law was to 'sell' patrons a bottle of liquor shortly before 'closing'. Any liquor left in the bottle when the patrons actually decided to leave was subject to a cash refund or a trade ticket. The officers also happened to find a secret tunnel leading from the back of 1710 N, Las Palmas to the back entrance of a typewriter store which fronted on Hollywood Boulevard, a convenient exit during raids. Hensley's explanation for the tunnel was that he'd been told to get a Hollywood Blvd address if he wanted a liquor license from the State Board of Equalization. Club 17 was raided repeatedly in 1940 (as was the 41 Club, now at 7819 Beverly). With a new name, this time it was Manhattan Club, Babe Hensley gave it a go again at 1710 N. Las Palmas in mid- 1941. This incarnation of the club was raided because they were selling liquor without a license. Cut to 1943- we are back to The Swing Club again albeit with a new owner, William Berg. See the accompanying photo as an illustration of the fun that could be had at the Swing Club in December 1944.

Today, 1710 N. Las Palmas is known as Central.