A 1940s Midtown bar vanishes without a trace

What kind of place was George’s Cafe?

Based on this 1940s black and white postcard, it was a cozy joint, one with a long, well-stocked bar and solid stools that didn’t swivel.

A handful of checkered-tablecloth booths were available if you wanted to eat and drink. A poster of a horse race is tacked up on the far wall next to the American flag.

Was it wartime—or was the flag always up? There’s a jukebox too. I wonder what songs it was stocked with.

George’s was just off Seventh Avenue on 33rd Street, right next to Penn Station. It probably attracted customers who were in no rush to catch their train or bus back home.

It doesn’t appear to be a total dive either. Look at the slogan on the back: “A delightful retreat for good friends to meet.” George Mitchell, the owner, ran a tight ship.

I tried to find some information about George’s, but I uncovered no trace of it in newspaper archives or bar and restaurant guidebooks of the era.

When did it disappear? There is no 203 West 33rd Street anymore; the nearest address, number 210, is a one-story postwar building that houses a Capital One Bank branch.

Perhaps it went down with the old Penn Station itself in 1963. But here it is, frozen in time in a throwaway penny postcard.

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8 Responses to “A 1940s Midtown bar vanishes without a trace”

  1. Lady G. Says:

    Aww, that’s sad. I think your guess is correct, it was probably torn down with that beautiful station. 😦

  2. Gina in AL Says:

    There’s a wartime poster above the jukebox, it says “Someone Talked”, to warn of the dangers of loose chatter.

  3. Force Tube Avenue Says:

    Thanks for the postcard.

    I would think it’s wartime; just to the left of the American flag is a service flag, a banner that family members of service men and women could display. The flag has one star for each family member in service; a blue star represents an active service member, and a gold star represents a family member killed in action. The flag in this photo is striking, as it has five stars, meaning five family members in service.

    We can not tell in this black and white photo whether the stars are blue or gold. But if they are gold, they can only refer to the five Sullivan brothers, all killed in action when the Juneau, the ship on which all five served, was sunk in 1942. After this inconceivable loss, the US military changed its regulations to prevent another such tragedy. The Navy named ships after the brothers. Also, a movie was made telling their story.

    Here is a link on service flags:


    Here is a link on the Sullivan Brothers:


  4. BabyDave Says:

    Great find, that postcard. Thanks very much for sharing. And yes, I suspect that building went down along with the old Penn Station, as the square block from 33rd Street to 34th, from Seventh Avenue to Eighth, is all new. (Well, more than 40 years old, but still new-ish somehow.)
    Also, I love the CHickering phone exchange. That’s a new one to me. I’ll have to investigate.
    Thanks again.

  5. Joseph D'Agnese (@JosephDAgnese) Says:

    I greatly enjoy your site, but have never left a comment. So, first a thank-you! I was taken by the phone exchange, CHickering, so I looked up it up and found two fun links, which I enclose here:

    A cool matchbook that uses the same exchange:

    An article from the Daily News on old exchanges:

    Thank you again for your excellent site!


  6. wildnewyork Says:

    thanks so much! And the links are great. I had an ad with the Chickering exchange posted a while ago, of Times Square movie times from 1934:


  7. Marissa Says:

    That was my great-grandfathers bar 🙂 unfortunately, it disappeared after he passed away and none of his sons wanted to take it over. I have a great photo of my great grandparents standing in front if the cafe. 🙂 all three sons were in the service, 1 in each division (army, navy and marines) and all three returned from war and raised large families in the suburbs of New Jersey. Hope that clears a few things 🙂

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Wow, thanks for writing in! So that American flag must have color-coded stars for each son in the service, as Force Tube Avenue said above.

      If you are able to email that photo of your great grandparents, I would so love to post it. You can contact me at ephemeralnewyork – at – gmail.

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