Barney Gallant was the first person in NYC arrested for serving alcohol during prohibition in 1919. He owned the Greenwich Village Inn and took full responsibility for the serving of alcohol during a raid to prevent his waiters from being arrested. He spent 30 days in The Tombs, the notorious jail in the city.
His arrest made him an immediate celebrity. Gallant went on to open swanky speakeasies and nightclubs, popular among locals and visitors from uptown alike. The names of his venues include Club Gallant, Barney’s, and Speako de Luxe. His clubs were known for the exclusivity.
Originally from Hungary, Gallant was a member of the Liberal Club in the 1910s, worked for a time as the business manager of the Greenwich Village Theater, and was Eugene O’Neill’s first roommate after his arrival in New York.
Thomas Healy owned Healy’s near current Columbus Circle in the early 1900s. Healy’s was one of the busiest clubs in the area with a spacious dining and dance floor. It featured an indoor ice-skating rink and enormous ballroom and more. It was one of New York’s most trendy dining palaces in 1913.
At 1 a.m. on August 13, 1913, the police burst into Healy’s and violently threw out all the patrons. The problem began days earlier when Mayor Gaynor initiated the Cafe Curfew for the wild lobster palaces and nightclubs that he felt were turning Midtown into an all-night party. Establishments holding proper liquor licenses would now have to close at 1 a.m. unless granted an exemption or extended license (often given to hotels). Mr. Healy saw he would lose money by closing an hour earlier so he protested the law and remained open.
Healy filed an injunction against the law and its wording, which could be interpreted as allowing his dining room to remain open, even if the bar was locked. For several days, police entered the restaurant and asked patrons to leave at 1 a.m. On Tuesday, August 12, police barricaded patrons in the restaurant, announcing that none of them could leave until 6 a.m. Healy removed his remaining diners out a back entrance, foiling the police.
The newspaper coverage of the raid on the 13th, which included the roughing up of the NY District Attorney and future governor Charles Whitman, sparked such a large crowd to come to Healy’s the next day and eventually had the Cafe Curfew revoked.
Healy is also known for Pomander Walk, a beautiful enclosed grouping of homes on the Upper West Side entered through an iron gate. He had the homes built while waiting for financing and finalization of plans for a hotel. He also had partial ownership of the famous Stork Club.