A couple of months ago I chanced upon the Floating Sheep blog, a fascinating collection of maps compiled from online data. I was particularly intrigued by their study of the distribution of bars in the United States. This map indicates that there are certain areas in the north of the country, particularly in the Mid-West, where - amazing though it may seem - there are actually more bars than grocery stores.
The chaps at Floating Sheep dug deeper into the available data and found that the prairie states have an uncommonly high ratio of bars per head of population: in Nebraska and North Dakota there are well over 6 bars for every 10,000 people, more than 4 times the nationwide average. [Although that doesn't seem like so very much to a Brit. Back in the 1970s, anyway, there were plenty of places in the UK that could boast more than 1 pub per 1,000 people. The small Welsh border town where I grew up was one of the most richly served in the country at one point, a possible Guinness record contender: when I was a boy, it had over 30 bars for a population of only about 15,000. Ireland, of course, is in a league of its own: there are some rural communities there where the ratio of pubs to people seems to be about 1:10.]
However, the highest concentration of bars per square mile is to be found in... Chicago.
Ah, Chicago - my kind of town.
I may well pay a nostalgic visit there a little later this year.