Detroit’s dive bar credentials go without saying, the city’s prosperity bringing with it an explosion of businesses, some of which have withstood the shifting fortunes of the region. As Detroit enters another upswing, the light can return to some of the oldest dive bars in America, spots built on a prosperous blue collar workforce and the type of city pride that has only been further embedded in those who life in Detroit.
Detroit makes Prohibition-era dive bars feel almost commonplace, a host of the city’s offerings predating Prohibition by decades. Nancy Whiskey
may be the most famous dive bar in the city, an Irish whiskey joint that at one point sold more Tullamore Dew than any bar in the country. It also happened to open in 1902. Or take Abick’s Bar
, a labor of love across six generations of a single family who built, operate and own the space that dates back to 1907.
Dive bars a little closer to downtown have seen even wilder swings in neighborhood conditions, shifting between great early days, rough intermediate years and now gradual rebirth. The Cass Corridor
just north of Detroit’s downtown core is one such area, area staples like Jumbo’s Bar
, Temple Bar
and maybe most famous of all, The Old Miami
, creating a concentrated dive bar hub.
Offerings spiral out from there, including Gusoline Alley
, a spot that has seen the first waves of redevelopment claim its storied jukebox and a few interior features. But as the city continues to restore its former glory, these types of tradeoffs can sometimes come to even long-running, historic dive bars. For a city that has seen its fair share of ups and downs, that may just be the price to pay for a more sustained period of “ups.”