Old neon bar signs that lit up the New York sky

As more of the city’s legendary bars and taverns fall by the wayside (good-bye after 70 years, Lenox Lounge), their wonderfully evocative neon signs do too.

These examples are still giving the city its enchanting glow—or at least marking the space where an old-school dive or haunt once stood.


All that’s left of Joe’s Tavern Bar on 25th Street and 10th Avenue is its battered neon sign. It’s been shuttered for at least a few years; amazing that a developer hasn’t snapped up the space, considering how close it is to next-big-thing West Chelsea.


At least the Old Town Bar, on East 18th Street, is still in business, and the inside is as old-school as the sign out front. It got its start in 1892 and weathered Prohibition as a speakeasy with the help of political bosses at nearby Tammany Hall on 17th Street and Union Square.

Here’s a photo, with the same sign, that looks like it was taken in the 1920s or 1930s.


Arthur’s Tavern is still going strong after 76 years as a bar and jazz club on Grove Street in the West Village. The sign is in shambles and I’m not sure if it actually works.

Either way, it’s an enchanting piece of an older New York and I hope it doesn’t change.

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5 Responses to “Old neon bar signs that lit up the New York sky”

  1. ronfwnc Says:

    When I moved to 25th & 9th in 1979, there was still a bar under the Joe’s sign, although I don’t remember if it was still called Joe’s. Scary looking place, an old man’s bar that drew its few patrons from the very depressed neighborhood, and it was dark inside, all day long. I was never tempted to go in. I think it finally closed in the mid ’80s.

  2. Pinball29 Says:

    Ive lived on 10th Ave in West Chelsea for 17 years and the entire time Ive been here, Joes Tavern has been vacant. I never understood why since virtually every other business on 10th has changed hands and opened again to cater to the new ‘upscale’ invaders. Give it time, I guess.

  3. larry Says:

    Seems like we are losing 1 of these neon signs right now as they are taking down the “Lyric Diner” neon on Third Avenue in the 20s for a new greek restaurant.

  4. A wooden phone booth in an old Flatiron bar | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] The long mahogany and marble bar is original, as are the tin ceilings. And the neon sign hanging outside gives off a warm, vintage New York glow. […]

  5. Gorgeous neon signs illuminating the West Village | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] has been a venue for live music since 1937. The vertical Arthur’s sign is wonderful but doesn’t light up anymore, […]

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