The Hudson River shoreline: 1766 and 2012

The Ear Inn is one of Manhattan’s oldest taverns—a low-key little pub on Spring and Greenwich Streets with a colorful history.

The Federal-style house was built in 1817 by tobacco farmer James Brown, an African-American Revolutionary War hero rumored to have been an aide to George Washington.

A downstairs bar has existed since 1833. It’s supposedly haunted by the mischief-making ghost of a sailor named Mickey, who was killed there decades ago. Bootleggers, prostitutes, and smugglers were also rumored to be regulars.

Fact and myth always blur around a place like the Ear. But a plaque on the sidewalk notes a fascinating bit about the tavern’s past.

The house stands right at the edge of the Hudson River shoreline in colonial-era New York City.

Over the years, the rocky shore was filled in and extended about a block and a half west—until Monday night, when the Hudson came roaring back, powered by Hurricane Sandy.

“At Spring Street, the river waters carried over the east bank, moved across West Street, spread past Washington and Greenwich Streets and then most of the way to the street named for the river, Hudson,” writes Jim Dwyer in The New York Times.

“That is: the river moved 1,200 feet inland, nearly a quarter-mile.”

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13 Responses to “The Hudson River shoreline: 1766 and 2012”

  1. quotidianhudsonriver Says:

    Reblogged this on The Quotidian Hudson and commented:
    If you are unfamiliar with The Ear Inn and how Manhattan has expanded over the years a lovely post from “Ephemeral New York”.

  2. Vladimir Brezina Says:

    We were just there! We just came home from the Ear Inn to find your post 🙂 The Ear just got their electricity back, sort of (the bathroom lights all went out while we were there tonight), they were flooded and still have their basement flooded, but they never closed because their regulars kept coming in during the hurricane… a real old New York institution! 🙂

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Great to hear that–thanks for writing in. I knew the Ear would stay open, think of how much that little tavern has endured over the years.

  4. Upstate Ellen Says:

    Great post. In all my years in NYC, I never heard of the Ear Inn. I’ll have to check it out sometime.

  5. wildnewyork Says:

    You must! A great vibe, a great crowd.

  6. ceetarCeetar Says:

    I’d love to know more about the carlsberg brewing co mentioned on that plaque.

  7. gimelgort Says:

    Carlsberg is a Danish co., they make the eponymous beer, and Elephant beer, or they used to ,it’s been quite a few hurricane seasons since I last paid tribute to Bacchus. Last time at the Ear was probably 1995. Nice post!

  8. Found: two more vintage wood phone booths | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] bars are a good place to look for them. The Ear Inn, on Spring Street, is one of the city’s oldest taverns–and right inside the front door is a beautiful vintage booth with a stool, overhead fan, and […]

  9. The ghosts that haunt a Hell’s Kitchen tavern | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] The Landmark isn’t the only old-school tavern haunted by dead 19th century New Yorkers. A sailor named Mickey supposedly knocks around this Soho saloon. […]

  10. This rundown building was once a posh mansion | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] have been like then: an elegant thoroughfare hugging the shoreline of Manhattan, lined with new Federal–style homes occupied by families with last names like Livingston and […]

  11. trilby1895 Says:

    So ashamed of myself for never having visited this delightful survivor of olde New York. I wish I could somehow glimpse into the past and watch goings-on, customers, what was going on outside. This is now on my “must see” list and thank you Ephemeral and guests.

  12. This is Lower Manhattan as it looked in 1642 | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] before landfill reshaped the Lower Manhattan shoreline, the waters of the North River (The Hudson to you and me) lapped at Greenwich […]

  13. This is Lower Manhattan as it looked in 1642 | Real Estate Marketplace Says:

    […] before landfill reshaped the Lower Manhattan shoreline, the waters of the North River (The Hudson to you and me) lapped at Greenwich […]

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