In the city of Chicago, from 1915 til about 1930, a complete cross section of early industrial America squeezed itself “through the hole in the wall, down Tooker Alley” in search of “the Green Lite over the Orange Door.” On that door was scrawled “Step High, Stoop Low, Leave Your Dignity Outside” and behind it lay a most peculiar institution—the Dil Pickle Club (yes, one “l”).
Consciously nobrow, militantly inclusive and ceaselessly creative, the Dil Pickle Club eschewed any and all social, economic or cultural limitations. Inside its walls itinerant hobos, society mavens, literati, mobsters & molls, high-toned swells, anarchisti, wobblies, suffragettes, professors, dancers, jazz players, politicos, and everyone in between coalesced, communed and cavorted. They dubbed this social cross-pollination “Hobohemia.”
Although never itself a bar, The Dil Pickle Club embodied all the elements that any self-respecting bar would want: a crowd drawn from all quarters of society; a high-spirited atmosphere; free-flowing banter; and, finally, pure and simple fun. As “founder and janitor” Jack Jones would say, “if you’re a nut about anything then you have to meet the Picklers”.
It is from this memorable place that Tooker Alley takes both its name and inspiration. Tooker Alley hopes to bring together consumption, culture and community in an integrated way that we feel is given short shrift nowadays. It is a bar that, as the denizens of the Dil Pickle Club so brilliantly put it, “elevates your mind to a lower level of thinking.”