A haunted speakeasy in a Greenwich Village alley

12gaystreetJimmywalkerCrooked little Gay Street looks like the perfect place to open a speakeasy.

So it’s hardly a surprise to learn that one existed here in the 1920s.

Called the Pirate’s Den, the illegal bar was run out of number 12, a Federal-style house built in 1827—back when Gay Street was just a slender stable alley in up-and-coming Greenwich Village.

See the metal arch placed in front of the building? It supposedly marked the bar’s basement entrance.

Gaystreet1894Located near other Village speakeasies, such as Julius’ on West 10th Street and the Red Head on Sixth Avenue, the Pirate’s Den was more of a tourist trap than a place for locals.

“[It featured] clanking chains, clashing cutlasses, ship’s lanterns, and patch-eyed buccaneer waiters,” writes George Chauncey in his book Gay New York.

Twelve Gay Street isn’t only known for its liquor joint rep. After the Pirate’s Den closed down, Mayor Jimmy Walker, a notorious partier and playboy, moved his showgirl mistress here, turning the house into kind of a second Mayoral home.

Could he be the mysterious figure in a top hat and tails, dubbed the Gay Street Phantom, who is said to creep around the stairs at night?

“The historic Gay St. property, on the corner of Waverly Place, is rumored to be inhabited by a restless spirit who walks the creaking floorboards at night,” states a 2009 New York Daily News article.

[Top photo: Streeteasy; bottom, NYPL Digital Gallery]

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

3 Responses to “A haunted speakeasy in a Greenwich Village alley”

  1. Cathy Moran Hajo Says:

    For another pirate themed bar, an exhibit done by one of my students– this one, The Pirate’s Cave, was on Sheridan Square and Christopher Streets, see http://gvh.aphdigital.org/items/show/1249

  2. Sick of Prohibition, New York holds a beer parade | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] New York’s mayor, party guy and frequent speakeasy visitor James J. Walker, proposed an […]

  3. The artists and writers of 1920s St. Luke’s Place | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] had other notable residents: sculptor Theodore Roszak kept his studio at number 1. Jazz Age mayor Jimmy Walker had his family home at number 6. West Side Story playwright Arthur Laurents owned number […]

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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: