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Country music’s most famous alley – a gritty monument to the earthy sounds all around it – is getting a face lift. The block-long alley is between the historic Ryman Auditorium and Nashville’s raucous honky-tonks, where well-fortified patrons are urged to “holler and swaller.”
Now it’s a place often littered with gray trash cans and cardboard boxes piled atop each other. Grand Ole Opry performers used to walk out the Opry‘s side door, cross the alley and slip in the back door at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Nashville’s legendary honky -tonk.
A local group has led the makeover effort, which will include work on storm and sanitary sewers, electrical conduits and refinishing the surface.
The 119-year-old Ryman was home to the Opry from 1943 to 1974, when it moved to a new location east of downtown. Opry shows are still performed at the Ryman during the winter.
Today, a dozen or so other honky-tonks have joined Tootsie’s on that side of the alley, continuing Nashville’s music vibe with blazing fiddles, country weepers and frosty beer.
The alley work, which will cost the city an estimated $300,000, is expected to take up to six months.