The Ryde Hotel was built in 1927 at the peak of the prohibition era.
It was an opulent establishment, complete with beauty salon and barbershop, that served as a riverboat way station. It was also rumored to be a bordello. The lower level was a speakeasy, offering bootleg whiskey and jazz to a clientele in search of a good time.
There was even a trap door in the floor that allegedly opened to reveal a tunnel running under the road to a hidden doorway at the river’s edge. It’s not difficult to imagine the type of nocturnal activities that secret passageway has seen!
Speculation mixed with fact generated a good amount of notoriety that brought with it a certain cachet. The Ryde attracted celebrities of all types from President Herbert Hoover to local and state politicians to movie stars and mobsters.
In later years the Hotel became a boarding house for the men and women who built the Delta levees and pioneered the area’s thriving agricultural industry. Over time, the Ryde has experienced many incarnations and owners including the Lon Chaney, Jr. family. At one point the name was changed to the Grand Island Inn. During the 1980’s it was even a rock’n’roll mecca!
Video of the Solid Gold Dancers in a film shot in the Ryde Hotel Speakeasy
The Hotel has resumed its original name and undergone a major renovation, maintaining the character of the original design while incorporating contemporary amenities, such as Jacuzzi tubs, with glorious river views. What has been achieved is an ambiance that is both unique and casually elegant.