Unearthed: The Secret Tunnels of the King Eddy

When it comes to historic buildings, the King Eddy holds a most interesting tale.

Built in 1906, decades before its decline, The King lent a warm bed for seasonal workers and weary travelers. Like most designs by Architect John Parkinson, (City Hall/Union Station), the King held its crown high with a grand lobby complete with imported area rugs over mosaic tiles, chandeliers and marble pillars to touch the high ceilings.

Slowly over time, the area deteriorated and so did the King. Many came and went with complaints, but the one thing no one seemed to be complaining about…The King Eddy Saloon!

King Eddy Saloon holds LA’s longest standing liquor license and is located on the bottom floor of the 120-year old King Edward Hotel. No less than 6 years ago it was crowned King of the Dive Bars and offered a spiritual refuge for alcoholics on a budget. Just kidding… That was low. Still, the King Eddy Saloon has always been infamous.

During prohibition, it was the main hub of illegal alcohol bootlegging back in Los Angeles. More intriguing rumor has it, the alcohol was being run by the Mayor? and the Police? No, we don’t believe it.

   Either way, The King was once part of a huge network of underground tunnels that reached as far up as to the Millennium Biltmore, beginning with a speakeasy basement complete with dance floor and lavish foods.   

   After prohibition ended in 1933 there was no use for the underground dwelling as the upstairs was slowly transformed into…well, just The King of Dive Bars.

   But the creepy cellar below the tavern still exist and with the right tour guide one may travel down into the basement to explore its antique murals drawn by the artists of yesteryear.

   The murals of King Eddy are warn and faded but still possess the secrets of the underworld with the drawing encodings of secret maps showing the locations and routes of the underground tunnel system.

    One mural if decoded properly is rumored to show the way to an underground bar located directly under the interception of 5th and Main. While others show other tunnels used for smuggling alcohol.

   The entrance to these tunnels are long sealed off, only the murals, furniture and antique refrigeration and some dusty old artifacts are left.

    Recently refurbished by the Acme Bar Group and later sold, plans to reopen the long lost tunnels and turn the King Eddy Saloon into a down ass hipster bar have long withered. Instead,  The AIDS Healthcare Foundation announced this month, they purchased the hotel roughly for $15.25 million for low-income housing to assist in LA’s homeless crisis. No word if this will affect the state of the Saloon, or if they will unseal the tunnels, but no doubt the purchase will bring much needed renovations to the King and a new chance to wear the crown once more.


By Alan Reyes and Adeline Banco

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