Printers Alley in Nashville has a long and storied past that most people, including locals, have little to no clue about. Tourists and locals alike should learn more about this hidden, almost seamy, segment of Nashville, Tennessee history.
Before the bright lights and bustle of Lower Broadway, Printers Alley was the center for all the action. Today, the area may be tucked away between Third and Fourth Avenue, but it’s still hopping. Let’s look at Nashville’s Printers Alley – Then and Now.
Nashville’s Printers Alley – A Storied Past
In the early-19th Century, Printers Alley was simply a series of wooden posts where men headed for the courthouse would hitch their horses. Eventually, it became the site of Nashville’s printing industry, first established in the 1830s. But by mid-century, the area was thriving.
The alley eventually gave rise to 13 publishers and printing companies with offices for Nashville’s two largest newspapers —the Nashville Banner and The Tennessean. However, the alley was not simply early Nashville’s equivalent to the Vegas Strip. Printers Alley was also once home to hospitals and warehouses that served troops during the Civil War.
Printers Alley – and Evolution
The street was also home to hotels, restaurants, and saloons. What were once saloons gave rise to speakeasies during prohibition. Eventually, in the 1940s, nightclubs took their place and the alley saw the rise of talented performers.
Performers like Chet Atkins, Boots Randolph, Waylon Jennings, Dottie West, Jimi Hendrix, and Hank Williams made their way here. The nightclubs that line the street today are the descendants of the saloons and speakeasies that ultimately evolved into the entertainment district that is still known as Printers Alley.
Things to Do in Nashville’s Printers Alley
When you’re in Printers Alley, there are some favorite spots you’ll want to see, and below is a short list.
- Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar – One of Nashville’s top blues bars, this is the perfect place to jam to some incredible live music and enjoy some delicious Cajun fare.
- Fleet Street Pub – This is an English-style watering hole offering classic pub fare as well as a variety of imported beers. Enjoy dishes like fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, and bangers and mash with mostly English beers and ciders. Though there is no live music, there is a jukebox waiting to entertain.
- Skull’s Rainbow Room – This is a must-see in Printers Alley. In the speakeasy style of its ancestors, this lounge offers delicious American grub and a wide selection of craft beers. Though the food and drinks are top-notch, the real attraction is the nightly burlesque shows.
Glitzy dancers, great live music, and entertainment await you at this must-see nightlife destination in Nashville, Tennessee. Stay up to speed on all the hot spots and sweet destinations. Return to Travel Hop regularly for all the latest travel news and updates.