Urban Design – The Neighborhood Pub

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,

And they’re always glad you came;

You want to be where you can see,

Our troubles are all the same;

You want to be where everybody
knows your name.

Reasons why the neighborhood bar is a key element of urban design:
Social Interaction: The neighborhood pub is the perfect place for community residents and outsiders to meet and interact with one another. Alcohol is known as a “social lubricant,” and often times it enables people to talk to one another. Bars a great place for residents to meet with old friends and make new ones.

Street Activity: A lot of traditional pubs are restaurants during the day and bars at night. This transition ensures that people are visiting the bar and the surrounding locations during all hours of the day. Families and workers visit the restaurant during the day, and 21+ residents visit the bar at night. This street activity will draw people to the neighborhood, help provide business to other shops/restaurants, and bring more “eyes” to watch over the streets.

Entertainment: People go to bars and pubs because they want to have a good time. Bars are sources of entertainment because they have music, dancing, and games. It’s is important that a community has entertainment destinations in the vicinity so that people are not forced to look to other neighborhoods/towns for fun and entertainment.

Sense of Community: Neighborhood pubs help communities to develop an identity. Bars often times serve as a town’s meeting place, and residents use them as a place to gather, exchange information, and have fun. The traditional neighborhood pub is a place that makes people feel welcome and feel like they belong to a larger community.

In the U.S. neighborhood pubs are a dying breed, and chain restaurants (e.g. Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill) have replaced the local “watering holes” that are typical in Europe and neighborhoods in older American cities (e.g. Boston, New York, and Philadelphia). These chains have emerged because people are skeptical of having a pub in their neighborhood. Generally, Americans think that bars promote drunkenness, debauchery, and drunk-driving. However, I think that the opposite is true. Chain restaurants promote debauchery and drunk-driving because they aren’t owned by anyone in the community and they are so far away from people’s houses that customers are forced to drive. Neighborhood pubs are run by respected community members so people are less likely to cause trouble, and they are within walking distance to residential areas so people won’t drive home. When you go to an Applebee’s you don’t have to worry about behaving because you don’t care about the people who own or run the restaurant. However, when you go to a neighborhood pub you behave better because you know the owners and you respect them.


  1. finnegan

    Having been to Ireland and noticing the same things you’re talking about, I could not agree with you more.

    Great post.

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