Toasting the new year at a dimly lit New York bar

It’s probably the oldest New Year’s Eve tradition in New York: gathering with others at a saloon or tavern and raising a glass (or flute, cup, or growler) as the clock strikes midnight.

That’s what photographer George Bain captured these festive folks doing circa 1910, inside a dark room under glass chandeliers and decorative wall-mounted plates. If only we knew the bar or restaurant they where they celebrated!

[Photo: Bain Collection/LOC]

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9 Responses to “Toasting the new year at a dimly lit New York bar”

  1. mniy Says:

    Ms. Crain,

    My Family and I want to wish you a happy and healthy New year. Your weekly e-mail blogs are so educational and original. The blogs also bring back wonderful memories for us. I just purchased a copy of your book entitled The Gilded Age in New York, 1879-1910. As an avid book reader who is selective in what I choose to read, I am looking to reading it soon. I’m sure that it will be a great read.


    Dana Konikoff

  2. James T. Tang Says:

    It looks like it could have been Billy’s in the east 50s and 1st Avenue. It shuttered about a decade and a half ago after over a century….


  3. Zoé Says:

    The plates hanging look to be German. (Or Flemish/Belgian?). And the size of the room makes me think this is a restaurant (w/bar) vs. bar/tavern.

    Like McSorley’s (sp?) & Horseshoe Bar (on Ave B) etc.; I don’t know if bars/taverns were ever this large. Or were there very large bars then that did not survive until now as bars as those have?

    So perhaps it is a place more along the lines of Luchow’s (which was massive on Union Square). Or Peter Luger Steak House in Brooklyn.

    Or none of what I’ve just written relates to this photo… lol. Happy New Year Ephemeral & Ephemeral readers & fellow commenters!

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  5. Herta Pfeiffer Says:

    Hungarian perhaps? Judging by the plates and the hanging bottles, probably covered in colored leather with designs, they could be from Hungary. I am reasonably sure they are not German.

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  7. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    If it’s Hungarian, perhaps this venue was in “Little Hungary,” a stretch of East Houston Street with Hungarian restaurants at the turn of the last century—also known by its more illustrious nickname, Goulash Row!

    • Zoé Says:

      Wow. I lived on both E. 1rst & Stanton – each one block from E. Houston & never once heard that about “Goulash Row”. Ephemeral creates new synapses again.

      Do you know between what & what (streets/avenues) – how far east?

      Off the point Ephemeral – lol – are people hiding in bathrooms at New Year parties & get togethers to post here tonight?

      I really wish I had my family’s Goulash recipe…

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