The interior of the Palace Saloon in Hill Valley, California.

A Western saloon was a type of bar that was particular in the Old West era of the United States.


Liquor was the primary business of saloons, but some also served food, and some had rooms available for rent. They served customers such as fur trappers, cowboys, soldiers, prospectors, miners, and gamblers. The first saloon was established in Wyoming in 1822, to serve fur trappers.

The Palace Saloon was the bar in Hill Valley, California. It was built in 1876 by Beauregard Tannen. By 1885, it became the central hub for congregation and entertainment in Hill Valley, as the bartender, Chester, knew the names of every patron, including Dr. Emmett Brown and Marty McFly (who assumed the name of Clint Eastwood), once they had arrived in town.

By the early 20th century, most saloons, including the Palace Saloon, were torn down. The temperance movement is the primary reason that the saloon industry faded. The biggest temperance organization, the Anti-Saloon League (known as the American Council on Alcohol Problems since 1964), was founded in 1893, and quickly became the most powerful prohibition lobbyist in America. It succeeded in its mission, and alcohol was made illegal in the United States under the Prohibition era, which began in 1919.

With the sale of alcohol becoming illegal, entrepreneurs, including gangsters, operated secret establishments that sold alcohol, known as speakeasies. Due largely to public opinion against the illegal speakeasies, and despite ongoing efforts by the Anti-Saloon League, and smaller movements such as the Stay Sober Society, Prohibition was repealed in the United States in 1933.

The saloons that survived the Prohibition era were confronted by the anti-German sentiment prominent in the United States after World War I, where anything that remotely appeared German was attacked. Very few saloons lasted into the latter half of the 20th century, and fewer still still remained in the 21st century.


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