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Metropolis’ Walk Heading To The Ville

February 2, 2006 Featured 2 Comments
Harlem Tap Room, left

I can’t remember the last time I participated in a “The Walk” organized by Metropolis St. Louis. However, I do recall one Walk along the Manchester St. gay bars that I was inspired by two friends with shaved heads — I went home that night and shaved mine. That was probably a good 4 years ago and as I shave my head I still think of that night. Good times…

Next week former Metropolis President, Brian Marston, is leading The Walk in an area I’ve personally spent too little time, The Ville. The date is Thursday February 9, 2006. From Brian’s email:

The Ville is St. Louis’ Harlem, a close-knit black community that has made prodigious cultural contributions to the life of our city. The small, nine-by-five-block neighborhood is home to the former Homer G. Phillips Hospital and Sumner High School, the first school west of the Mississippi to provide secondary education for black students. Annie Malone, one of the country’s first African-American millionaires, made her fortune while living in The Ville. Among Sumner’s famous alumni are rock-and-roll legend Chuck Berry, singer Tina Turner, tennis great Arthur Ashe, comedian and activist Dick Gregory, actor Robert Guillaume, opera diva Grace Bumbry, opera’s first black male soloist (and Bobby McFerrin’s dad) Robert McFerrin, former local newscaster Julius Hunter and the American League’s first black MVP Elston Howard.

Here’s The Walk lineup:

6:30 – 8 p.m.
J’s Hideout Cocktail Lounge
4257 Dr. Martin Luther King Dr.

This cozy, laid-back establishment features two big-screen TVs, a fish tank full of oversized goldfish, and plastic Clydesdales in a Plexiglas case over the bar. The dapper gentleman wearing a suit behind the bar is the proprietor, J.D. Bratcher. A big glass of Crown on the rocks is $5.

8 – 9:30 p.m.
Harlem Tap Room
4161 Dr. Martin Luther King Dr.

Established in 1946, this club sees the most traffic of the three stops on our itinerary. It features an enticingly backlit liquor display that is well-stocked with premium brands. A waitress delivers drinks to the tables. The canned beer is ice cold (literally).

9:30 – 11 p.m.
Zack’s Lounge
1904 Whittier St.

Ah, Zack’s — my home away from home. A tiny shotgun bar that’s a bit off the beaten path (and, amusingly, right next-door to a church), the home of the curiously punctuated “Zackaroo’s and Zackaretts” has the most straight-up neighborhood flavor of any Ville bar I know of. Some of the regulars have been going to Zack’s for 20 years. Family photos and Christmas decorations line the wall behind the bar. Gracie, Zack’s wife, works Thursday nights. In her words, “We all family here.”

I recommend parking on the street, near the corner of MLK and Whittier. If you want to travel en masse, meet up at that corner at 6:20. Bring cash; your plastic is no good here. All three bars have jukeboxes and dart machines. You must be at least 21 to Walk this way. Please drink responsibly, and tip your bartenders and barmaids. They take care of you, you take care of them — it’s the circle that makes life go ’round.

The area is served by Metro Bus. The most direct routes are the #32 Wellston/MLK bus which comes out of downtown (and points further west) and the #42 Sarah (from the CWE and parts North). Click here for a list of routes.

My recent post on Martin Luther King Drive sparked some interesting discussion about this area and how to revitalize it. Patronizing local businesses is certainly a good way to start.

– Steve


Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. I was on that Manchester Walk, too.

    Thanks for including the bus route information.

    For people who aren’t familiar with the area, the building on the corner in the photo above is the Harlem Tap Room. Turn right (north) on Whittier, and you’ll see the lighted Bud sign for Zack’s Lounge. Keep going straight (west) on MLK, and you’ll see the lighted Bud sign for J’s Hideout. From south city, I usually take Vandeventer.

    If people mention to Gracie at Zack’s that they wish DJ Play were spinning, that’d be OK by me.

  2. Thomas says:

    I’ve not been blind-drunk at one of these bars. At the other two…

    When Brian alludes to stiff drinks, this is not an idle threat, or wink-wink joke. It is reality.


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