Thirsty For Something Stronger Than a Sarsaparilla? — 1890

by Paula Bosse

ad-saloons_city-directory_1890-det“Remember Frank’s Place When Thirsty”

by Paula Bosse

According to the 1890 city directory, Dallas had roughly 145 saloons. That seems like a lot when the city’s population was only 38,000. That would be one bar for every 262 people — and this is before you take out all the residents who wouldn’t have been allowed in saloons, like African-Americans, Hispanics, women, children, etc. (and I’m sure there MUST have been a few adult white men who didn’t drink…). And there were probably a lot more than 145 bars — this doesn’t include private clubs or “unlicensed” holes in the wall (I’m not sure how heavily enforced “licensing” was back then). So it could have been more like one bar for every 50 imbibing Dallasites. Call me crazy, but this seems like a disproportionate ratio of bars to customers. But depending where you fall on the how-many-bars-is-too-many spectrum, it might have been just the perfect number. It fact it might have been a veritable paradise.

ad-saloons_city-directory_1890(click me!)

Here are a few of the “popular resorts” of the day into which a white man could mosey and slake his big Texas thirst.

  • Meisterhans’ Garden
  • Mayer’s Garden
  • Glen Lea
  • Planters House
  • Pat’s Place
  • Frank’s Place
  • Ord’s Place
  • Two Johns
  • Two Brothers
  • Louis
  • Bohny’s Hall
  • New Idea
  • U Bet
  • Walhalla
  • Coney Island
  • Butchers’ and Drovers’
  • Q. T.
  • Eureka
  • Gem
  • The Wonder
  • Sample Room
  • Monarch
  • Casino
  • Little Casino
  • Red Front
  • Blue Front
  • Blue Corner
  • Buck Horn Corner
  • Sharp Corner
  • Mikado
  • Apollo Hall
  • Mammoth Cave
  • Headlight
  • Green Tree
  • Live Oak
  • Moss Rose
  • Sunny South
  • White House
  • Cabinet
  • Senate
  • Postoffice
  • Board of Trade
  • First and Last Chance
  • Turf
  • Black Elephant
  • Jockey
  • Union Depot
  • 9-45
  • Dallas Club
  • Wichita Exchange
  • City Hall Exchange
  • Ross’ Exchange
  • Mechanics’ Exchange

That’s a whole lot of places to get drunk in.


Saloon ad from the 1899/1890 edition of Morrison & Fourmy’s Dallas City Directory.

See the complete list of saloons, with addresses and proprietors’ names, here.

Street names and addresses have changed over the years. Plot the location of your favorite bar by referring to an 1890s map, here.

In the nineteenth century, the word “resort” often denoted places a bit more unsavory than, say, Puerto Vallarta. A list of similar establishments might include “tippling houses, gaming houses, bawdy houses, billiard saloons, lager beer saloons, and other places of public resort” (source here).

I’m wondering if “respectable” women were allowed as customers in the larger beer gardens in Dallas at this time? If anyone has info on this, I’d love to know.

Was drunkenness a goldmine-like source of city revenue? Oh yeah. See my previous post “Police Blotter — 1880s,” here. Building a greater Dallas, five bucks at a time.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.