Yahoo!, Dmoz, Looksmart, Snap/NBCi, Go.com, at one time there were a lot of First Rate web directories and now they are all gone. There were also quite a few Second and Third Rate directories plus regional, local and niche.
With the rise of link popularity and Google’s Page Rank, all too soon, junk directories were springing up all over.
Most of the top tier directories are gone, but I found 7 directories, still alive, that have been around a long time.
Illumirate - I remember it’s predecessor Hotrate from back in the 1990’s. Sounds like they have tried different business models and lost several databases over the years and have settled down to be a small non-commercial general directory. Kinda decent. Nothing to really separate them from the pack but is not filled with spam. Looks like a legit navigational directory.
Skaffe - They started out as a general directory and now they appear to be pushing themselves as a regional directory. Sometimes you have to try different things to survive.
Gimpsy - This is kinda unique, it is organized around what you want to do (buy, get, read). It was never a favorite but it is pretty decent.
SeekOn - The results do not looked spammed out which is good. They are pay inclusion only which is not good, but somebody has to pay for hosting. They accept both websites and articles.
JoeAnt - If I remember right this was founded by former Go Guides (editors) who were let go when Disney pulled the plug on it’s own portal at Go.com. The look has really not changed over the years except somebody scrunched the categories all into one column to make it more mobile friendly. I always felt the SERPs were too cluttered. And in my quick testing I found some dead wood in the index. JoeAnt was always hard to get into.
GoGuides.org - another directory founded by former Go.com Guides. Sites are listed by rating. Another one that was hard to get into. Seems to be maintained. Fairly clean look.
SoMuch.com - A general directory slanted towards internet and tech. It started out as one man’s bookmark collection and went from there. I like this because it is unpretentious and I do like the Category hierarchy.
Most of these have an option to pay a fee for faster review. Frankly, I would not pay any general directory for inclusion. Use the free submit option.