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Nashville's Historic Printers Alley

Historic Printers Alley - Nashville's First Entertainment Hotspot


Copryright Jan Duke

Printers Alley

© Jan Duke Copyright Jan Duke

Printers Alley

© Jan Duke

Although the Printers have long since gone, The Historic Printers Alley still remains, providing a Flair of Bourbon Street for those in search of Wine, Women and Song, with a strong tinge of Naughty.

Located between Third and Fourth Avenues stretching from Union to Church Streets, the Alley started before the turn of the century as the location of many of Nashville's first Publishing and Printing Companies.

Without the Country Music influences that started in the 1930's, Nashville could have possibly been known as the Printing Capitol of the World. As late as the 1960's, Nashville was home to over 36 Printing Companies and many other numerous Businesses, whose roles were, to support and supply the massive industry.

In the late 1800's Printers Alley was a part of "The Men's District". Many Cafes, Saloons, Gambling Halls and Speakeasies sprang up to cater to the men of Nashville's Print shops. Judges, Lawyers, Politicians and other Nashville Elite were also known to frequent the Alley. At the turn of the Century, The Climax Club of Printers Alley was nationally known as Nashville's Premier Entertainment hotspot.

Printers Alley was Nashville's dirty little secret. It didn't matter what you were looking for, you could find it there.

Nashville's Politicians and Police protected the Alley even after the sale of Liquor was outlawed in the early 1900's. Hilary House, elected Mayor at the time was quoted by reporters as saying; "Protect them? I do better than that, I patronize them" He was Mayor for 21 of the 30 years that the sale of intoxicants were illegal.

In 1939 Nashville repealed prohibition and made it legal to buy Liquor in stores. For the next 30 years The Alley flourished as the Mixing Bar came into existence. Although Liquor was legal, you could not buy it by the drink. Advertisements for the Clubs in the 1960's stated "Bring Your Own Bottle" and they would mix your drink for you.

People would bring their choice of beverage tightly wrapped in a brown paper bag and leave it in a locker or on a shelf behind the bar of their favorite haunt. Written on those bottles were the names of Nashville's movers and shakers of the day.

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