One of the most intimidating old-school bars I've ever encountered rests on a desolate, curving stretch of Burden Avenue in South Troy, New York. Maybe it's the spare tan facade. Maybe it's the boarded-up, depressed feel of the surrounding neighborhood. Maybe it's the "Ladies Entrance" neon sign, almost as big as the main sign, that still defiantly hangs outside the building, despite the fact that ladies entrances in bars gasped their last gasp in the 1970s. Maybe it's the fact that rough-looking men were already inside at 11 AM, drinking in near darkness. Maybe it's all these things.
The place, known locally as Marty Burke's, after its founder, opened in 1934. It serviced the steel mill workers who once populated the area. (It's right near Mill Street.) A sign in the window promised "Steamers are Back!" Otherwise, the food is what you expect.
And the "Ladies Entrance" sign? Back in the 1970s, there were calls for it to be taken down, that it was sexist. Ironic, since the original owner hung it up because he wanted to serve women—a thing that a lot of bars at the time did not do. Anyway, the Troy City Council saved the sign by declaring it a historical landmark. Good councilmembers and true.