Time stands still at the White Horse

When this picture was taken in 1940, the White Horse Tavern was just another corner bar on the far West Side, catering to longshoreman working the piers and workers from the Nabisco plant on Bethune Street, among other factories that used to anchor the neighborhood.











In the 1950s the White Horse earned its bohemian cred, with Jack Kerouac, James Baldwin, and other writers holding court—and Dylan Thomas spending his final drunken night there, as the story goes.

But tensions with neighborhood regulars existed. In New York in the 50s, author Dan Wakefield writes:

“The hostility toward all nonconformists was heightened during the McCarthy fervor of the fifties, when mostly Irish kids from the surrounding area made raids on the Horse, swinging fists and chairs, calling the regulars ‘commies and faggots.'”


The White Horse today. The building and corner look almost exactly the same, now beckoning tourists, frat boys, and neighborhood folks to come in for a drink.


 The loveliest windows on Hudson Street

Tags: , , , , , ,

11 Responses to “Time stands still at the White Horse”

  1. My Blog » Blog Archive » Some Stuff That’s Interesting Says:

    […] White Horse Inn, New White Horse Inn. [Ephemeral New […]

  2. Mona Says:

    I’ve been going to the White Horse Tavern since 1972. The first time I went, I met two old friends of Dylan Thomas’s–Mr. and Mrs. McAlpine, who were visiting New York from Wales and taking a trip down memory lane.

    I’ve just written a story about Dylan Thomas and “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.” It’s posted on Examiner.com’s New York site. The link is: http://www.examiner.com/x-907-NY-City-Life-Examiner~y2008m12d22-A-Childs-Christmas-in-Wales

  3. “One Christmas was so much like another…” « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] safe to assume that booze  played a pretty big role, as he was known to knock them back at the White Horse Tavern on West 11th and […]

  4. Blair Says:

    I was reading Jane Jacobs’ “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” and I found a portion of page 40 dedicated to the White Horse Tavern.

    “We are fortunate enough, on the street, to be gifted not only with a locally supported bar and another around the corner, but also with a famous bar that draws continuous troops of strangers from adjoining neighborhoods and even from out of town. It is famous because the poet Dylan Thomas used to go there and mentioned it in his writing…. On a cold winter’s night, as you pass the White Horse, and the doors open, a solid wave of conversation and animation surges out and hits you; very warming.”

    Thank you for posting these photos and information. I’ll have to stop in when I’m in the neighborhood sometime.


  5. wildnewyork Says:

    Thank you for sending that passage in! I live in the neighborhood and that last line is still true.

  6. Chelsea Says:


    I’m writing poetry on the bar. If anyone has info on the White Horse Tavern please send it my way. Thank you.

  7. Nabe News - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle Says:

    […] A brief history of the famed White Horse Tavern [ENY] […]

  8. A lonely, long-gone West Village bar « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] only guess at the clientele—perhaps the same mix of longshoremen and locals who frequented the White Horse a few blocks away back in the 1940s and 1950s, way before the far West Village became […]

  9. sarah Says:

    When I was a kid in the late 50’s i used to have to go to the White Horse Tavern to get our handyman. My mother would say go get Omar and I would walk over to the bar and bring him home. He was always there with his dog Fluffy. It is funny how I remember that but can’t remind what I did yesterday.

  10. History in the making - 12/20 - Bowery Boys: New York City History Says:

    […] Something things in New York don’t change much at all: check out this snowy look back at the White Horse Tavern [Ephemeral New York] […]

  11. Going back in time at the Village’s Corner Bistro | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] But the Corner Bistro resounds with what I imagine as the feel of the Village of the 1950s and 1960s, when locals and poets and artists and the men who worked the Hudson River docks went there for alcohol and camaraderie in a neighborhood that hosted lots of corner bars with the same mix, like the Lion’s Head and the White Horse. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: