‘How did this happen?’: Speakeasy, saloon hatchet help tell tale of Prohibition at Pa. exhibit

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PHILADELPHIA — A hatchet used to bust up saloons, the verdict sheet from Al Capone’s trial, and lawman Eliot Ness’ sworn oath of office are among the more sobering artifacts in a new exhibit documenting the driest period in U.S. history.

But the items help tell a lively tale as part of “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.” The installation now on view at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia also includes a re-created speakeasy, where visitors can learn the lingo and fashions of the Roaring ‘20s and even how to dance the Charleston.

“We’ve never had as much fun building an exhibition,” said Stephanie Reyer, one of its developers. “Of the 27 amendments we have to work with, this is by far the sexiest.”...

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