Seattle's Oldest Bars

Seattle Bars Pre-dating Prohibition

1) 1890 - Merchants Cafe
2) 1892 - Central Saloon
3) 1901 - Queen City Grill
4) 1902 - J&M Cafe
5) 1903 - The Virginia Inn
6) 1907 - Jules Maes
7) 1910 - The Triangle Pub

(Click names for more details. See Notes below for age criteria)

Other current Seattle bars in spaces once occupied by bars -- with different names -- before prohibition: Volume, Table In Gallery (TIG), Conor Byrne, Trinity Nightclub, Hattie's Hat -- See details below. In addition, while Von's has only been in its current location since 2013 (and only been named Von's since 1940), it has been a continuously running restaurant, at least, since starting out as Rippes in 1904.

(See also working list of oldest bars in Washington state)


Seattle Area Bars Established Before 1940

1933 Athenian Inn Restaurant since 1909 (1)
1933 Five Point Cafe Opened as restaurant 7/1/1929
1933 The Cabin Not technically in Seattle, but approximately a mile north of the city limits
1933 Hilltop Ale House The original Hilltop Tavern opened in 1933 and closed in 1993; the more upscale Hill Top Ale House opened in 1994)
1933 Mecca Cafe Opened as a restaurant 7/1/1930
1934 April Blue Moon Tavern Note that city and telephone guides of 1934 and 1935 continue to list Blue Moon Cafe on 4526 Roosevelt, from which the current Blue Moon's sign was taken in 1934
1934 The Double Header Although I have not yet found it in city guides until 1937, it seems to have been around since shortly after Prohibition. Upstairs from "The Casino," perhaps the most famous gay nightclub on the west coast at the time (now "Heaven" nightclub), there is a plausible argument that the Double Header is the oldest continually running gay bar in the United States (see my post in Seattle Twist). (3)
1934 Deluxe Bar and Grill In 1934 a bar was opened in this 1931 building by Thomas McClanahan. By 1935 it was listed in city guides as the "De Luxe Tavern," still owned by McClanahan, who ran it at least through the 30s. It was purchased in 1963 by Joe Rogel and Bernie Minsk, and remains operated by Joe's son Barry at this time. Barry Rogel has described it as the first post-prohibition tavern in Seattle, though a number of bars make similar claims, and it seems likely that the first would have begun in Dec. 1933. The address was originally listed as 619 Broadway N, but in the Broadway renumbering/renaming became 626 Broadway E in 1942.
1934 The Duchess The Duchess first appears in city guides at its current address in 1937, although it then disappears from 1938 through 1944. A photograph in the bar itself is accompanied by a plate dating it to 1934. The building was constructed in 1926.
1934 Fiddler's Inn The Fiddler's Inn was constructed in 1934 by Walt Haines, who ran the bar for many years thereafter.
1934 The Reservoir The Reservoir Tavern was established in 1934 and is said to have been a speakeasy for years before that. The building was constructed in 1928.
1935 or earlier The Comet Tavern Originally "Wee Deoch and Doris," which appears in the 1936 city guide, it changed to The Comet in 1945; it appears in the 1935 guide under Duncan McKenzie; the structure was built in 1907 or 1910. 1 2 3 Polk City Directories
1935 or earlier Fifth Avenue Tavern This starts appearing in city guides as "Stewart's" in 1935, but is listed as "5th Ave Tavern" by 1938.
1936 OE Caroline Tavern The Caroline itself includes mentions of a start date in 1933, and this Seattle PI blog entry states that "The Polk directory shows the Caroline at that address at least as early as 1937." However, I'm pretty confident that this is mistaken, and that while the bar may possibly date back to 1933, it was at a location on Victory Way (now Lake City Way) until approx. 1940. In the late 30s and early 40s the Caroline was owned by Mrs. Mary McNulty. The 1937 Seattle Polk guide includes no mention of the Caroline or McNulty, but the 1936 through 1939 telephone directories list the Caroline Tavern or a tavern under Mary McNulty at 12341 Victory Way (now Lake City Way). Then in 1940 the telephone directories and eventually the Polk Guide begin to list the Caroline Tavern, Mary McNulty, or both at the current address. It is not unusual for Seattle directories of the time to be missing bars that are so far out from downtown, and I would not at all be surprised to see the that the Caroline does indeed date back to 1933, although not likely at the current address. However until I see this from some primary source, I will list it as "1936 or earlier."
1936 or earlier Mike's Chili Parlor The web site notes that Mike's was established in 1922 (i.e. during Prohibition) and does not specify how soon they started serving alcohol after the 21st amendment. I suspect it was around 1933 or 34, but so far I've only found it listed under bars ("Taverns") as early as 1936, and this was at a different address across the street (1453 Ballard Way). (It seems to be missing from Polks City Directories, but included in telephone directories.)
1937 or earlier The Shanty The Shanty Tavern goes back to at least 1937, although it was previous located in a couple different locations up the road on Lake City Way. The 1937 listing has "Mack's Shanty" at 8816 Lake City (AKA Bothell Way AKA Victory Way), and it is listed in a few subsequent years under the name of owner Doris McLeod. In the 1941 guide, Mack's Shanty begins appearing at an 8916 address, and then shifts to the current 9002 address around 1948. In at least this last move, and perhaps the previous one, the actual building (constructed in 1932) was moved. It continues to be listed as "Mack's Shanty" into 1960. In 1961 it was purchased from the original owner by current owner John Spaccarotelli, and changed the name to just "The Shanty."
1936 or earlier The Tin Hat This was the Sixty-Fifth St. Tavern in 1936, but was the Tin Hat by 1938.
1939 or earlier The Crescent Tavern The building was constructed in 1924 and by 1939 it was housing the "Arterial Tavern." By the 1948-49 Polk Guide it was named the "Crescent Tavern."
1939 or earlier Loretta's Northwesterner Structure was built in 1918; by 1939 there was a beer parlor listed in city guides as owned by Mrs. Lou Mansfield; by 1948 until 2005 it hosted Kelly's Tavern -- though Kelly's appears to have been across the street at some point in the 80s
1939 or earlier Wedgwood Ale House Appears in city guides as Hansen's Tavern" in 1939-1944, Then either "Wedgewood" or "Wedgwood" Tavern/Inn/Alehouse ever since 1945

Pre-40s Notes:


Seattle Bars Established Before 1950

1940 or earlier Northlake Tavern The current Northlake Tavern dates their own birth to 1954, when they were in a location up the road that was demolished to make way for the I5 Bridge. But this is curious, since the "Northlake Tavern" had been at that same location (512 E Northlake Ave) throughout the 40s and possibly earlier. A note on the current menu claims that the place dates back to an earlier bar from the 30s and was granted the state's second tavern license. A beer parlor is listed under the owner's name of Edna M. Conley is listed in the 1939 city guide. City guides list the "Northlake Cafe" under Beer Parlors in 1940, and the "Northlake Tavern" in 1941, and variations on that (e.g Northlake Tavern and Cafe) through the 40s. I suspect that the 1954 date was inherited from the set of owners who purchased the place in that year, Herb and Evelyn Friedman. In any case, the current location dates back to 1958 (the renowned pizza service began in 1960), and an earlier tavern of the same name in the 512 location dates back to at least 1940 and possibly very shortly after prohibition.
1940? The Red Onion Tavern The Red Onion appears in city guides starting in 1940 at the address 4222 Madison; sometime between 1970 and 1980 it begins to appear at its current 4210 Madison address.
1941 or earlier Two Bells Tavern The "Two Bells" first appears in Polk guides in 1941. Before that, the Congress Tavern appears in the in 1939 and 1940, and a beer parlor owner's name of Leonard J. Crawford in 1937 and 1939
1943 or earlier The Lock Spot The Lock Spot begins appearing in city guides in 1943.
1944 or earlier Lockspot Cafe First appears in city guides in 1944
1945 or earlier 74th St. Ale House A picture in this venue at 7401 Greenwood says the building was constructed 1910 and a tavern started in 1950. However, King County parcel information says that the building dates to 1912, and city guides list Green's 74th St. Tavern at the location starting in 1945. (Greene's 74th St Tavern is listed across the street, at the current location of Herkimer Coffee, in 1942.) The "Orbit Inn Tavern" is listed at this address in 1960.
1945 or earlier North City Tavern Since at least 1945, probably 1933; oldest commercial building in north city (1929)
1946 The Copper Gate The web site claims it was established in 1946, which is consistent with city guides listing it in the first edition after 1946.
1948 or earlier The Latona Pub The Latona Tavern begins appearing in city guides in 1948. The first bar I have found listed at this location is the "Put & Take Tavern" in the 1936 telephone directory.

Pre-1950 Notes:


More Old Bar Spaces that Host Bars Today

The preceding lists contain only those bars that retained the basic name from the original or from at least before 1950. In addition to these, there are a number of bars with different names currently operating in spaces that once hosted different bars before 1950. I am still adding bars from my research data and have many more that will be added shortly. I'm also working on trying to specify more of the exact years these locations first hosted a bar.

From 1994 to 2005 it catered to the goth and fetish crowds as "The Catwalk."
1890? Volume Listed under Saloons in the 1905 Polk Guide as the "People's Cafe", but has been identified as John Considine's "box house" the historic People's Theater, since 1890. By 1941 it became The Casino, perhaps the most famous gay bar in the country during the 40s. It is said to have been a speakeasy during prohibition and is linked to the Double Header above, which remains to this day and may be the oldest continually running gay bar in the U.S.
1898 or earlier Table In Gallery (TIG) This address, also in the Pioneer Building,, was the Horsehoe Saloon by 1898, and hosted the Alaska Club Tavern by 1944) (Source: Seattle City Guides, SPL)
1898 Conor Byrne "The Owl appears to have been founded in 1898, and the Ballard Chamber of Commerce calls this the "oldest continually operating drinking establishment west of the Mississippi."
1898 Percy's This building, constructed in 1898 (after the great fire along this strip in 1895, originally hosted the Ballard Bar. The bar currently in the space is called "Percy's" and serves a "Sankey Sour" in honor of the Ballard Bar owner, Percy Sankey. After Prohibition it was the Silver Spot and then Enger's Fish Knot Inn. It became the Old Town Ale House in 1995, and Percy's in 2013.
1898? Trinity Nightclub There are bars listed at this address as early as 1898 (A.E. Stewart), but I haven't found any in the 40 years after Prohibition. It is listed in the 1908 Polk Guide as the "Pioneer Square Tavern" -- not to be confused with the current "Pioneer Square Saloon" up the street.
1905 Hattie's Hat This is said to have first been established as the Old Home Saloon and appears to have remained that or just "The Old Home" through prohibition. In the 1950s, Gus and Pat Malmgren renamed it "Malmen's Fine Foods" (it retained a bar), and was re-named Hattie's Hat sometime around 1967.
1913 or earlier Lock and Keel Tavern A saloon was in this location since 1893, said to be the Club Tavern before prohibtion, and the Club Café during. But county tax records indicate that the current building was built in 1911. By 1913 there was a bar here owned by Joseph Finkelberg. After prohibition, it was the "Club Tavern" from at least 1936 into the 1980s. In 1990 it is listed as "Borge's Place."
1934 or earlier Cyclops City guides list a bar at this address from 1890 through at least 1905, but the current structure was not built until 1909. The first bar I have found in the new building is the "Sunset Tavern" beginning in 1934 and continuing at least into the 60s. The Cylcops was in another location across the street for a few years before the moving to the present location.
1934 Sully's Snow Goose (Previously La Boheme Tavern, then The Bohemian)
1934 Pioneer Square Saloon Begins appearing in city guides in 1934 as Yesler Beer Parlor
1934 or earlier The Re-Bar The "Night Hawk" first appears at this address in the 1934 Polk guide and is listed sporadically under that name until at least 1970.
1934 or earlier The Red Door The current building that houses the Red Door was constructed in 1893, moved from south of the current canal in the 19th century, and then moved again from Fremont Ave to Evantston in 2001. By 1934 it was the Fremont Tavern, which was closed in 1986. It has been the "Red Door" since 1988.
1934 or earlier Nickerson St. Saloon This location begins to appear in city guides in 1934 under the name "Albert Cruver." The name changes to "Jack Gengler" in 1942, then the "318 Tavern" in 1948. The building was constructed in 1928.
1934 Ould Triangle Structure was built in 1932 and appears under Beer Parlors in the 1934 Polk guide (owned by Ivan McKinnon, bar name unknown). It was Mack's Tavern from the the 40s into the 60s, The Score Card Tavern in 1970, and O-Zone in 1980
1935 or earlier (9 Million This was the "Triangle Tavern by 1935 until 1986. It was the "Classic Tavern" in the latter 80s and 90s, and re-named the "Triangle Lounge" from 1998 through 2009.) Building constructed in 1926.
1935 or earlier 95 Slide This structure was built in 1920 and begins showing up in city guides as the "Harvard Tavern" in 1935 and remains under that name into the 60s. In 1970 it was the "Forun Tavern." By 1980 it was the "Brass Door," later the Brass Connection, and lead the migration of the Seattle gay scene from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill. It has also hosted Blu, The War Room, and the Hunter Gatherer Lodge
1935 or earlier Back Door Pub This building was constructed in 1927. The first bar I have found at this address is one owned by Frank Galianese in 1935. By 1945 it was Jim's Tavern in 1945, which was there at least through the rest of the 40s. By 1970 it was Ed Delby's Tavern, and was The Back Door by 1980.
1935 or earlier Belltown Pub City guides first list a bar here in 1935 under "The Rheine." By 1990 it was listed as simply "Belltown," was modified to the "Belltown Bistro" by the owners of the BluWater Bistro chain from 2005 to 2010, the re-opened as the "Belltown Pub" in 2010
1935 or earlier Boxcar Alehouse This appears as "Kenyon's Side Track Tavern" in 1935. By the late 40s it is known as just the "Side Track Tavern," and in 1970 and 1980 it is listed as the "Ty-Up Tavern."
1935 or earlier Changes Tavern By 1935 the "Looking Glass Beer Parlor" occupied the address currently housing this U-District gay bar, and it remained under that name though at least the 40s. In 1980 it was the "Loading Zone Tavern."
1935 or earlier Eastlake Zoo The Eastlake Zoo has been at this location since 1974, in a building constructed in 1924. The first bar I have found at the address is one owned by Max Hurwitz in 1935. It was Hank's Tavern in the 50s and 60s.
1935 or earlier HulaHula This building was constructed in 1929 and the "Midway Tavern" first appears at this address in the Polk Guide in 1935. It has since hosted the Tic Toc Tavern, Arthur's A Fine Pub, Romper Room, and Watertown
1935 or earlier The Iron Bull The Polk guide of 1935 lists the Picture Palace Tavern at this location, constructed in 1925. and "The Checkerboard" or "Checkboard Tavern" by 1948 and into the 1960s. By 1970 it was the Rat Hole Tavern, and possibly later in the year became the Iron Bull. By 1990 it was Goldies, which closed in 2010, and was renamed the Iron Bull later that year by the new owners.
1935 or earlier Knarr Tavern City guides list Hansen's Tavern (or owner Henry Hansen) here in 1935. It was Bailey's Tavern by 1939 and into the latter 40s, and U-Way Tavern by 1960 By 1970 it was the Knarr.
1935 or earlier The Lava Lounge The first bar I have found so far at this address is the "First Up" from 1935 to 1944. In 1945 it becomes "Feeley's Tavern" which it remains for the rest of the 40s. It is the "Golden West Tavern" from at least 1960 to at least 1970, and the "Hawaii West Tavern" from at least 1980 to 1990 or later. It became the Lava Lounge in 1995.
1935 or earlier Mars Bar This bar adjointed to Cafe Venus was the Eastlake Tavern by 1935, which it remained into the 1970s. By 1980 it was a rough joint for sailors and later punk bands as The Storeroom, which closed in 2001
1935 or earlier Olde 99 Pub The "Meet Me Here Tavern" first appears at this address in city guides in 1935. It was also the Greenlake Ale House, and the Kangaroo and Kiwi until 2012
1935 or earlier Mission The building currently housing Mission on California Ave was constucted in 1924, although it probably did not contain the upper floor at the time. It starts appearing in city guides under James Robinson or his "Jim's Tavern" in 1935 and continuing into the 70s. In 1980 it is the "Rainy City Tavern" and in 1990 the "Caddyshack Tavern."
1935 or earlier Park Pub This Greenwood Ave address lists "Richie's Inn" in 1935, then the "Duck-Low Inn" from 1945 to 1949, and again (still?) in 1970.
1935 or earlier Pazzo's I'm not sure Pazzo's should really count as a bar, but by 1935 there was a bar in this building owned by Charles Haines. The building was constucted in 1924 and it was "Quinn's Tavern" through the late 40s. In 1970 and 1980 it was "Skipper's Tavern" and in 1990 "JC Fox & Sons."
1935 or earlier Rat and Raven "The Century" first appears at this address in city guides in 1935. It remained the Century into the 80s and was recently the "Irish Emigrant" before R&R
1935 or earlier St. Andrews St. Andrews on Aurora Ave was established Oct 26, 2005 in the previous location of the "Lion's Lair." The structure was constructed in 1927, and there is a bar listed here in the 1935 Polk guide under owner Rudy Brown. By 1948 it is the Greenlake Tavern, which it remains into the 1960s. It became the Lion's Lair by 1970.
1935 or earlier Sunset Tavern This Ballard structure was built in 1900. It appears in city guides as "Chet's Log Cabin" 1935-1939, then Chet's appears to move one door down for the 40s, into the current location of La Carta de Oaxaca.
1935 or earlier Tim's Tavern There was a tavern here owned by John "Jack" Perry by 1935, and it was named "Jack's Tavern." By 1948 it was owned by H.W. Mackey and called "Mackey's Tavern." It was the One Hundred Fifth St. Tavern through the 70s. Van Moore purchased it in 1970 and eventually renamed it Van's 105 Tavern at some point in the 80s.
1935 or earlier Wild Rose A bar owned by Neil C. Riley is listed here in 1935. In the 40s it was LaChateau Café, and in the 60s and 70s it was the Chamber Tavern. In the early 80s it was the Sundance Tavern, and opened as the Wild Rose on Jan 1, 1986.
1935 or earlier WingMaster's This was "Davented's Tavern" in 1935. I have found no listings in the late 30s or early 40s, but in 1945 it begins appearing as "Club Two Hundred," which continues into the 80s. In 1990 it is listed as "Tor's Tavern."
1936 or earlier El Norte The current building was constructed in 1921 and the bar I have found at this address is the Rebel's Inn in 1936. Names of bars in this location since then include Chuck's Tavern (1948), B&E Tavern (1970), Chuck and Mary's Tavern (1980) and by 1990 the Rose Garden (closed 2010)
1936 or earlier Fusion Ultra Lounge The "Rainbow Tavern" first appears at this address in city guides in 1936, and it remains under that name until the mid 40s. In 1970 it is listed as the "Sandpiper Tavern" and by 1980 it had returned to the "Rainbow Tavern."
1936 or earlier Leary Traveler Polk shows Carl's Tavern here in 1936, then "Harvey's Tavern" from at least 1942 into the 1990s.
1939 or earlier The Angry Beaver This building was constructed in 1927 and a bar owned by Harvey Mashinter is listed here in 1939. By 1942 and continuing into the 70s, it was "The Central" or "The Central Tavern" (not to be confused with the Central Saloon in Pioneer Square). It was subsequently "Yo'Babes," "The First Edition" in the 80s, The Winners Circle in the 90s, and The Pig and Whistle from 1995 to 2012
1939 or earlier Barking Dog Alehouse The Polk guide of 1939 lists a beer parlor at this address owned by Edward Hern. It lists no bars again until 1948-49 when it was "Mick and Art's Tavern." By 1970 it was the "70th Street Tavern and remained that until at least 1990.
1939 or earlier Dante's "Pete's Barbecue" was in this location by 1939, it was the "Maple Inn" by 1960, and "Dante's" by 1970. The building was constructed in 1924.
1939 or earlier Eastlake Zoo The current building was constructed in 1924 and the first bar I have found is one owned by Joseph Carroll (bar name unknown) in 1939. It is "Mack's Tavern in 1946 and at least through the 40s. In 1970 it is the "It'll Do Tavern" and it is the "Eastlake Zoo" by 1980.
1939 or earlier Il Bistro "The Hideout" first appears in city guides at this address in 1939 and remains into the 70s. It has been Il Bistro for the last 30 years.
1939 or earlier Jade This rock building on Aurora Ave near 90th was constucted in 1993. The 1939 Polk guide lists a beer parlor there owned by Mrs. Hazel Goforth. By 1943 it was the "White Stone Tavern" (sometimes listed as "Whitestone"), which it remained at least into the 70s. In 1980 it is listed as the "Brooklyn Bridge Tavern," and in 1990 it was "Traveler's III," a popular hang-out for native Americans.
1939 or earlier Joe's Bar and Grill The first bar I've found located at this building (constructed in 1926) is one owned by Mrs. Ko Nishiyama in 1939. By 1948 it was the Combination Tavern, and in the 50s and 60s it was the Red Front Tavern (which later moved one block north to Jackson). It is also listed as Johnson Corner Tavern in the 60s, and eventually (?) Joe's Bar and Grill.
1939 or earlier Leny's The current structure was built in 1928 and "Hansen's Tavern" is listed there in 1939. In the 1948-49 guide "Howard's Tavern" is in the location, and appears to have remained there until at least 1959. It was "Leny's" by 1970.
1939 or earlier Mel's Tavern The current structure was built in 1928 although Milton "Mel" Roe has expanded it considerably. There was a bar there by 1939 owned by Mary Byrne, and by 1948 it was the Club Tavern, which it remained into the 60s, becoming Mel's in 1969
1939 or earlier Molly Maguire's The Woodland Tavern existed at this address by 1939 and remained into the 1970s. It was the Rinkidink in 1980 and the Flip Side Tavern in 1990.
1939 or earlier Pub at Piper's Creek The 1939 Polk guide lists a beer parlor owned by Mrs. Frances M Hall at this address (the building dates to 1931). Names of bars that preceded Piper's Creek include the "Viewlands Tavern" in the 40s though the 60s, "The Playhaus," "Bob's Goodtime Tavern," and "The Crazy Norwegian."
1939 or earlier Roanoke Park Place Tavern City guides list the Dutch Tavern at this address from at least 1939 to 1970 or later. It appears to have become the Roanoke sometime between 1970 and 1980.
1939 or earlier T-Bird Tavern This location on 15th NW was a bar owned by Peter Olson by 1939 and named the "Pilot House Inn" by 1941. It was the "Thunderbird Tavern" by 1959. The building was constructed in 1936.
1940 Al's Tavern First appears in city guides in 1940; confirmed opening year
1939 or earlier Bar Del Corso This building was constructed in 1926 and by 1939 there is a bar listed under owner Victor Campbell In 1944 it first begins to appear as the Beacon Tavern, which it remained until 2010
1941 or earlier McCoy's Firehouse Appears listed as the "Green Spot Tavern" in 1941, then the "Silver Star Tavern" from 1942 into the 70s, and "Maddie's Corner" subsequent to that.
1941 or earlier Pacific Inn Pub The "Square Deal Tavern" begins appearing at this address in telephone directories in 1941 and remains all the way into the 80s. By 1990 it is named "Pacific Inn."
1941 or earlier Place Pigalle The "Lotus Tavern" first appears at this address in city guides in 1941 and changed to Place Pigalle sometime in the 50s
1943 or earlier Sweet Lou's The current building was constructed in 1940 but the first bar I've found at the address is Art's Tavern in 1943-44, through at least 1948. By 1970 it was the "Sundown Tavern" and changed in 2010 from that to "Sweet Lou's."
1943? Bookstore Bar The "U.S. Tavern" appears in the 1943-44 Polk guide at this address, and again in the 1948-49 edition, though not intervening editions.
1945 or earlier Ballard Grill & Alehouse "Ben's Tavern" is listed here in 1945 and through at least the 40s. It is Duffy's Tavern in 1970 and 1980.
1945 or earlier Aquabar 2234 and/or 2236 3rd Ave are associated with the "Liberty Tavern" from at least 1945, and was "Kelly's" from 1979 to 2010.
1945 or earlier Kort-Haus Tavern The "68th St. Tavern" first appears at this address in city guides from 1945 into the 60s. It is the "Kort-Haus" by 1970.
1945 or earlier The Eagle The "East Pike Tavern" appears at this address in city guides beginning in 1945. by 1960 it was Gordy's Tavern, by 1970 The Odyssey, by 1980 Le Chateau, and by 1990 the Seattle Eagle
1945 or earlier 418 Public House "Johnny's 65th Street Tavern" begins appearing at this address in 1945. Additional names have included Ben's Tavern (40s), Dan's Tavern (50s-60s), Hagar's Tavern (80s-90s), Reading Gaol (90s-2011)
1945 or earlier Lottie's Lounge This is in a building constructed in 1892. In 1903 it became the Hotel Dakota, and then the Columbia Hotel from 1904-1920, hosting the likes of Bullalo Bill Cody. It was the "Bright Spot Tavern" from at least 1946 into the 1970s, and was "Slim's Tavern" in 1980.
1945 or earlier Santa Fe Cafe "Walt's Tavern" is listed at this address from 1945-1949. In 1970 and 1980 it is listed as the "Happy Time Tavern."
1945 or earlier Taqueria el Trompo Loco This was the "Camel Inn" Tavern from 1945 into the 70s. In 1980 and 1990 it is listd as the "Side Track Inn."
1945 or earlier Victory Lounge "Green Tavern" begins appearing at this address in 1945. Additional names have included Mr. Ed's Tavern (70s) and Lobo Inn
1947 The Funhouse [NOW CLOSING] The building was constructed in 1947 and "Tex's Tavern" is listed here from 1948 and into the 90s
1948 or earlier The Thirsty Fish This building was constructed in 1927, and in 1948 it begins to show up as "Nicky's Tavern" or "Nicky's Holman Road Tavern," which continues int the 1980s. Also later the "Ridge Pub" and then "Acorn Eatery" 2001-2009
1948 or earlier Crown Hill Pub This space on 15th NW housed the Sunset Inn in 1948. In 1970 it is listed as the "Terminal Tavern" and as "Glaser's Terminal Tavern" in 1980. In 1990 it is "The Watering Hole." The building was constructed in 1927.
1948 or earlier Local 360 This location has hosted bars since at least 1890, but the current building was constructed in 1930. The "J.R. Hammond Saloon" was there in 1890 and a saloon owned by J.w. O'Brien in 1905. In the late 40s, the Liberty Saloon moved here from the 3rd Ave location later occupied by "Kelly's" and now by the "Acquabar." The Liberty lasted into the 80s, and in 1995 it became "Flying Fish," which moved to South Lake Union in 2010.
1948 or earlier Mack's Triangle Pub This was the Swallow Tavern in 1948. It was also Nick's New Tavern in 1970 and the Triangle Tavern by 1980.
1948 or earlier Tractor Tavern The "Melody Tavern" first appears at this address in city guides in 1948, in a building constructed in 1902
1949 The Hurricane The Dog House was actually established in 1933, but only moved to the building currently housing The Hurricane in 1949. (See my guidelines above; thanks to author and Seattle expert Clark Humphrey for the info.)

Notes:


General Notes

Defining the age of a bar is problematic in definition as well as gathering accurate data, and I have used some fairly arbitrary choices here. For the lists at the top of this page I have defined the starting year of a bar using the following:

For example, I count the founding date of Jules Maes as 1907 because this appears to be the first year the existing structure housed a bar, even though it was not yet owned by or named for Jules Maes. In another example, I date the start of the Queen City Grill as 1901, even though I am not certain that the current brick structure was built by then, because the the Queen City Saloon was in operation by then at this address (and it has remained the "Queen City" Saloon/Lunchroom/Tavern/Grill since that time). There were certainly bars (names unknown to me) in a wooden structure at this address as early as 1890, and thus if one wanted to count them, you might plausibly consider this space to be the oldest bar in Seattle. On the other hand, since the current owners purchased the former home of the divey "Queen City Tavern" and revamped it in 1987 to the upscale "Queen City Grill" restaurant (which retains a bar), you could just as easily choose to define it as relatively new. As I said, one must make some fairly arbitary definitions.

Sources: Of course along with the problem of defining a start date, getting accurate historical data is problematic as well. I have relied primarily upon newspaper articles, Polk Seattle City Guides, and telephone directories. I have also used hearsay from bartenders and owners, dates on old photos in the bars themselves, blogs, and online sources such as historylink.org. All of the preceding have their imperfections and do not uncommonly conflict, but I continue to assess what appears to be the most reliable information from the various sources and update this page as I learn. See the Jules Maes page for an example of how I attempt to resolve these. (I am also progressing on converting city guides and telephone directories into a spreadsheet of bars by year and address, which of course is massively more helpful than xerox copies from the Seattle Public Library.)

Some bars further outside Seattle: Though they are a bit too far from the Seattle city limits for me to include on the list above, here are a few more old area bars that I am interested in.



If you have any corrections, additions, or other information on Seattle area bars built before 1950, please e-mail to kbar@peterga.com




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