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Journal / Nashville Guide

History of Printer's Alley

Part 1.

One of the cool things about the Bobby—if we do say so ourselves—is that you get a completely different experience when you walk in the front door, than when you walk in the back.

If you haven’t headed to Bobby’s Garage yet, here’s what you can expect to find right outside its doors. The entrance to the bar, which is adorned with neon art from LA street artist Risk, is off of historic Printers Alley. Printers Alley and the connecting Bankers Alley are more than just places to have a good time. (Although, they are that, too.)

Since 1828, Printers Alley has been essential to Music City. Named after the city’s important printing industry, it was once home to both of the city’s newspapers (The Tennessean, which is still the city’s daily, and the Nashville Banner, which folded, but is on its way back again), plus other publishers and 10 print shops. In 1915 it was in its heyday, and even as late as the 1960s, there were still 36 printers in the area. The last printer moved out of the alley in the 1970s.

Of course, publishing is still important to the city (the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention is based in Nashville and is one of the largest Bible publishers, for example). But Printers Alley wasn’t all printing either. In the early 1800s President Andrew Jackson had his law offices on Union Street and he was one of many men who kept his horses tied up in the alley while he was at work. Parking issues were different back in the early 19th century (horses, not cars).

Stay tuned next month and we’ll tell you what happened next in Printers Alley. As a hint, there was a lot more activity than a horse waiting for his rider.