Do you recognize this 1920s corner speakeasy?

Few artists depict New York’s lights and shadows like Martin Lewis. In the 1920s and 1930s, he created haunting, enchanting drypoint prints showcasing day-to-day street life—from factory workers to gangs of young boys to lone men and women exiting subways and hanging around bars.

This drypoint above, from 1929, is titled “Relics (Speakeasy Corner).” Considering that New York during Prohibition hosted an estimate 20,000 to 100,ooo speakeasies, it’s hard to know where this is.

The Old Print Shop on Lexington Avenue (which has priced this drypoint at $70,000!) solves the mystery.

“The location is Charles Street and West Fourth Street in Greenwich Village which was near Lewis’ house at the time on Bedford Street,” a page on their website tells us.

Google street view shows that this corner is almost exactly the same as it was 89 years ago, except the speakeasy has been replaced by Sevilla, one of the Village’s old-school Spanish restaurants.

More Martin Lewis prints can be found here. [Print: Metropolitan Museum of Art]

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6 Responses to “Do you recognize this 1920s corner speakeasy?”

  1. Dymoon Says:

    very nice ..contrast in photos.. have a good day

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    You too Dymoon! Martin Lewis sees NYC the way I see it.

  3. Zoe Says:

    Drypoint is difficult & labourious & time devouring & beautiful…

    & I always love these comparison posts of yours Ephemeral.

  4. Ty Says:

    Your post on Hopper and this do have a common theme of urban alienation and loneliness conveyed mostly through the quality of the light.

  5. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    They’re fun—I was only going to feature the drypoint (urban alienation is a running theme here at ENY, yes) but then decided to find out where the speakeasy was.

  6. Ty Says:

    I like the both. Alienation is a state of mind. But nailing it down to a street corner makes people both uncomfortable and fascinated. It binds the real with the our internal dread. Walk through the cheery Chelsea piers to see the blown up pictures ragged titanic survivors who had everything.

    The point being that you far more likely to kiss your loved ones for no damn reason when understanding what took place underneath your very feet.

    Yes it harsh’s people’s buzz but what do you expect from a 400 year old place.

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