The History Of Nashville’s Printers Alley + The Bars And Restaurants There Now

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Nashville’s famed Printers Alley is so named because of the large number of printing companies that used to be housed in that alley.

In fact, the last printer to leave the alley was Ambrose Printing Company (a place where Jim worked) in 1977.

 

The sign over Printers Alley in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

Today, Printers Alley is a Nashville hot spot for tourists and locals alike.

It’s located between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue stretching between Union and Church Street.

Popular sites in Printer’s Aalley include: Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar, the Fiddle and Steel Guitar Bar, and Lonnie’s Western Room — to name just a few.

There are also some great restaurants in Printer’s Alley.

printers-alley-bars

 

Historical Facts About Printer’s Alley

Printers Alley was named from its early connection with Nashville’s printing and publishing industry which was located in the immediate area in the early 1800s. Thirteen publishers and ten printers were based in and around Printer’s Alley at the turn of the century. One by one, the printers moved to new locations, leaving only the alley’s name as testament to what once was there.

Located in a section downtown that takes up 3 city blocks between Fourth and Fifth Avenues (between Commerce and Union Street), Printers Alley is a narrow cobblestone lane that has been well-known for its nightlife since the 1940s.

printers-alley-sign-looking-east

In its early days, the printers would gather in the alley whenever the presses were idle. Eventually, the alley became the hub for the city’s nightlife, servicing the hotels, restaurants, and saloons along Fourth Avenue (known as the Men’s Quarter). In the 40s, nightclubs began opening along Printers Alley and the alley was being frequented by entertainers including Chet Atkins, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, to name just a few.

Printers Alley is also the site of Nashville’s first automobile parking garage, as well as the city’s first “skyscraper”. Built in 1957, the Life and Casualty Tower is located at the southeast corner of 4th Avenue North and Church Street (401 Church Street). Learn more about the historic buildings along Printers Alley.

looking-west-past-printers-alley

 

Today, Printers Alley is a part of the historic area known as The District — which also includes Second Avenue and Broadway.

The District serves as the entertainment hub of Nashville to this day.

 

Did You Know?

Most trucks delivering paper to the printers there couldn’t make the turn into the alleyway, so they would roll their large spools of paper off the truck, then literally roll them UP the alley and into the correct printer’s warehouse.