Saturday, January 3, 2009

Manhattan Brewing Company

The Manhattan Brewing Company was incorporated in 1892. Producing suds at 3901 S. Emerald, in Chicago, it always seemed to have an locational identity crisis.

For the first 27 years of its existence, it was a large, but otherwise ordinary brewery (one exception was an accidental explosion in 1908 that killed two workers, and could be heard throughout the South side).

In 1919, at the start of national Prohibition, Joseph Stenson, a top Chicago brewer, along with South side gang leader Johnny Torrio, bought the brewery, changing its name to Fort Dearborn Products -- although it continued to make beer. After Torrio's departure from Chicago, the brewery fell into the hands of Al Capone, and it became one of the largest manufacturers of alcoholic beverages during Prohibition.

In the early 1930s, with Capone in prison and Prohibition ended, the brewery came to be held largely by Capone's chief accountant, Louie Greenberg. Greenberg changed the name back to Manhattan, and later began producing a sister brand, Canadian Ace. That the brewery remained in the hands of organized crime is evident from the continued attempted bombings of the factory throughout the 1930s. In the 1940s, Greenberg attempted to open a sister brewery in New York with business partners including prizefighters Joe Lewis and "Sugar" Ray Robinson, but was turned down by state authorities due to his connections with the Outfit in Chicago.

In the 1940s, the Federal Trade Commission successfully sued the brewery on false advertising charges, since Canadian Ace was produced on the South side of Chicago, not in Canada (or in Manhattan!). Both Manhattan Beer and Canadian Ace were highly successful brands in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

After Louie Greenberg was assassinated in 1955, the brewery continued to operate, but faced with increasing competition and a lack of gang muscle, it finally shuttered in 1968. The factory was demolished in the mid-1970s. The lot is empty and overgrown with brush today.

For more about the Manhattan Brewing Company, including historic photos, see this fansite.

12 comments:

Blogger said...

Order a professional Sparkling White Smiles Custom Teeth Whitening System online and SAVE BIG!
* Up to 10 shades whiter in days!
* Professional Results Are Guaranteed.
* Better than your dentist, for a fraction of the cost.
* Same strength as dentists use.

Jack Shaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack Shaw said...

There is a Gentleman, namely Edward V. Melsha, that was Vice President of Manhattan Brewing, during the 1940's , Possibly during the Frank Nitti and Louis Greenberg Years... He was still there in in 1947 when the product was changed to Canadian Ace..... Before he was involved with Manhattan, He was Sec/Treasurer of Food City Beer, that had financial ties to Manhattan.....Melsha was born in Brooklyn, N.Y, in 1900.... Capone was Born in Brooklyn in 1899.....He lived in Michigan, was married in Indiana and Worked in Chicago... in the 1930;s Melsha's wife was a victim of and Armed Robbery at a Jewelry shop..........Has anyone heard of Melsha and would there be a connection with him and the Chicago Mafia?...... He passed away in 1984 in Jew Jersey....

Blogger said...

QUANTUM BINARY SIGNALS

Professional trading signals delivered to your cell phone every day.

Follow our signals NOW & gain up to 270% a day.

Blogger said...

Want to join additional affiliate programs?
Visit our affiliate directory to get the ultimate list of affiliate networks.

Unknown said...

Where can i find info and value for my Manhattan brewery collectables?

Unknown said...

Yes Melsha was Directly involved with Al Capone and Frank Nitti! As he was also the one who signed, deposited, helped keep track of finances, and cashed the checks for the company at least up until 1947 "that I know of" the year Capone died and I have a genuine hand signed Manhattan Brewing Co. Of Chicago, Dated Nov. 24th 1944 that is cancelled/voided, and stamped by the bank! Nitti died in March of 1943 the check I have is signed by Melsha only 20 months following Nittis Death who happened to be the President of Manhattan Brewing after Capone left for Alcatraz in 1934, however do to Capone and Nitti's notoriety or infamy they did not sign Company Checks themselves "that I am aware of", as well as they did not like leaving paper trails due to both of them having been brought up on tax evasion charges prior. Hence they needed a more "for lack of a better word" a respectable person to sign checks, deposit them, as well as someone they trusted to handle financial aspects of the company and interworkings of operations be it illegal or legal that remains speculative, As they were also known for money laundering and they probably needed a legitamit business and personel to do this! I believe I have proof of this by way of a hand signed check as proof of this timeline and the ties to Al Capone, Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti, and Manhattan Brewing Co., As I find it hard to believe Melsha did not know Al or Frank or any knowledge of their illegal activities, 3 years prior to Capones death and only 20 months after Nittis' albeit well after prohabition ended I do not believe The Chicago Syndicate abruptly stopped illegal activities! Keep in mind this is also when Paul Ricca and Tony Arcardo "suposedly became heads" of the Chicago Outfit! I cant say if Melsha knew, didnt know, if he was honest, dishonest, forced into it! "I can not say and do not know!", however the court case was due to him being refused a license to open a brewery in Manhattan or NY and infringement suits! So you decide what Melsha was involved in but I can tell you unequivocaly that he did sign checks during a period directly involving Capone, Nitti, The Chicago Syndicate, and Manhattan Brewing Co. Of Chicago in the early to mid 40's. I hope this helps solve your questions and intregue in Milshas life and times as I have been studying this topic, gathering material on this topic and similar topics alike for almost 30 years! Keep in mind these are my opinions my findings and mine alone nothing more and in no way do I know Melshas personal activities other than public record and findings through my own research and this is not to credit or discredit his integrity in any way or involvement in legal or illegal activities,! You decide, But I have the Check his Backside Did Cash! Replys are welcome!

Unknown said...

CORRECTION* Actually Melsha Did not Cash the Check he Paid it to the Order of Hyman Goldman, a man at the time that had supposed ties to the "Jewish Mob" and a "suspected" accountant for them! Melsha wrote and signed it to this man! The supposed Jewish mob Heads at the time were Arnold Rothstein, Charles "Lucky" Luciano, Vito Genovese, Ben "Bugsy" Seigal, Meyer "The Accountant" Lansky,Joseph Columbo, etc.

Jack Shaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack Shaw said...

Thanks for the info... One More thing I found on Melsha.... After Manhattan and Canadian Ace Brewing, He went to work for Vulcan Steel, In Pa. Vulcan was owned by Alex L. Greenberg.... Interesting....

Earl please said...

Have you found any more info on these checks ? I have some.

Unknown said...

Are you selling any of them?