Deep Dive

How the grit of our dive bars—and, yes, even our rats—makes the city home.

Jess Mayhugh - December 2018

Deep Dive

How the grit of our dive bars—and, yes, even our rats—makes the city home.

Jess Mayhugh - December 2018


In 1979, Baltimore magazine wrote about the changing city of Baltimore. “New bars will all look the same,” we opined, “and how a drinker is to tell one hanging-fern/exposed-brick/butcher-block-tabled spot from another escapes [us].”

Though nearly 40 years have passed, we are having the same conversation—over drinks, no doubt—about the state of city nightlife. As shiny cocktail bars move in, bona fide dives, which used to dot this city like Keno squares, are going the way of the dodo bird.

And we’ve poured many a cheap beer out for fallen institutions (see below), which is all the more reason to hold close the bastions of glass-block windows, sticky bar tops, and buzzing neon that remain.

Row 1: Muir's Tavern; Midway Bar; 1919. Row 2: Jerry’s Belvedere Tavern; Mary’s Tavern; Venice Tavern. Row 3: Holiday House; Cat’s Eye Pub; Griffith’s, Mount Royal Tavern; The Drinkery; 3 Miles House.


R.I.P. Gone, But Not Forgotten: We’d like to take a moment of silence for the establishments that have left us, like American Joe’s—later Harry’s American Bar—(Bill Clinton knew what’s up), Dimitri’s (getting drinks through that tiny window), Leadbetter’s (cramped enough to be in the band), Long John’s Pub (karaoke and carpet!), and Rendezvous Lounge (drinking 40s in the dark), to name a few.

OH, RATS!

What is it about our unlikely (but most fitting) mascot?

By Christine Jackson

New York has more rats than Baltimore. Philly does, too. Walk around Washington, D.C., and you'll likely see a rodent that could hold its own against a small dog.

And yet, in this city, we plaster the vermin across coffee mugs and car bumpers. We watch them in lauded documentaries (Rat Film) and viral videos (stealing Berger cookies from Lexington Market). We even throw music festivals in their name.

But why all the love? It might be because rats are known for surviving. When waters rise, the rats remain. When new trash cans come in, they chew right through them. Sure, they've caused their fair share of disasters (see: bubonic plague), but still they, like Baltimore, don't give up. In that way, you could say we’re kindred spirits.

“Baltimore has survived some of the most catastrophic events through history, from fires to wars and riots,” says Matthew Fouse, the city's self-appointed Rat Czar, who created those now-iconic BALT rat stickers. “The people always come out stronger in the end. Just like rats, they band together, adapt, and conquer.”

ONE MORE QUESTION:

What Charm Means To Me...

“No spoiler alert needed here, it's all about neighborhoods. Neighborhoods make Baltimore a big town, not a large city. How many times have you been in a social setting where the first conversation-starter question is ‘Where'd ya grow up?’”

Marty Bass | WJZ anchor and weather man





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