Northeast Yacht Club celebrates turning 120 (!) with party this Sunday

Ye Olde Northeast Yacht Club, fresh as a daisy at 120 years young

Ye Olde Northeast Yacht Club, fresh as a daisy at 120 years young Sarah Brumble

So, today I learned one of the very best dive bars in Minneapolis—the Northeast Yacht Club—is turning a spry 120-years-old.

That means our favorite inexplicably boaty watering hole was established before the Titanic ever existed… or sank. It wasn’t called that back then, of course. But this feels like quite a jaw-dropping tidbit of information for those of us who live with tiny computers in our hands. 

To thank customers for their continuous patronage for over a century, the tiled little bar on NE Marshall by the Plymouth Bridge will host a birthday party for itself on Sunday, July 28 from noon to 6 p.m. Richie Yurkovich & Polkarioty will provide live music. Cheaper Hamm’s and PBR will flow. Regulars will put up with the kerfuffle.

A lot has changed in the world since the Yacht Club foundation was poured in 1899. It’s become one of the subtle best places to watch sports, and an outright fantastic place to shoot pool. Though record-keeping was sketchy back in the day and finding concrete details about Northeast dives can prove difficult, Twin Cities Sidewalks, the blog belonging to Bill Lindeke (urban geographer and dive bar scholar) does an excellent job providing a glimpse at the Yacht Club’s historied life.

Highlights appear below with Lindeke’s permission:

There are different stories about who named this bar, whose joke it really was. By one account, it was the Poles, famous for self-deprecation. “Let’s call it the Yacht Club,” they said. “That’ll show those snobs up the hill.” This one is probably true. 

I’m fond of the other account, told to me by a regular one afternoon. You see, if you go to the Yacht Club you'll probably overlook the well-appointed newspaper rack. But if you stop and think about it, it's unusual for a bar like this to have copies of the Wall Street Journal for sale. 

I believe that this stack of papers is perhaps the last remnant of the old Yacht Club newsmen culture, as this bar used to be a hangout for newspaper workers. The place got its name because of a running joke amongst Star and/or Tribune men poking fun at the city’s class hierarchy. (Example of old-school newspaper humor: “let’s retire to the Yacht Club gentlemen.") The other ope newsmen joke was that they were working on the "white edition" while at the bar, reminiscent of the old chestnut about “sailboat fuel.”

That sample's just to whet your whistle. For the full story, including a dive-bar grocery hustle unlike any other and a current photo of the Yacht Club’s Prohibition-era smuggling tunnel beneath Marshall, click through to Lindeke’s blog.

See you at the Yacht Club on Sunday.

Northeast Yacht Club
801 NE Marshall St., Minneapolis

Sunday, July 28, noon to 6 p.m