How the Humble Bar Changed American History

Jill Harness

If you ask Christine Sismondo about prohibition, she'll tell you it didn't have nearly as much to do with alcohol as it did with trying to close down the saloon. And that's a key distinction if you, like her, consider the American bar to be the equivalent of the London coffeehouses and Paris Salons.

Sismondo contends that America is the way it is largely because of the saloon culture, which provided a place for people of all classes and creeds to get together and discuss their problems, goals, politics, etc. Eventually, these gathering places led to revolution, rebellion, strikes and more, all of which had a permanent change on the American political landscape.

To learn more about her theories, you can read more in Sismondo's new book, America Walks Into A Bar, or enjoy this her fascinating interview in The Smithsonian Magazine.