Posts Tagged ‘old New York taverns’

Stopping at the Buckhorn Tavern on 22nd Street

March 21, 2016

Imagine that it’s the early 19th century.

You’re a farmer coming from the vast countryside of Manhattan or a traveler from Albany or Boston, and you’re trying to get to the actual city of New York, which is concentrated below Canal Street.

Buckshorntavern2

Roads aren’t so great, and travel by wagon or stage takes a long time. Good thing that when you need to eat, rest, or take a bed for the night, there are taverns that will welcome you.

One of those taverns is the Buckhorn (or Buck’s Horn), which since 1812 stood on once-bucolic Broadway and 22nd Street. (Below, today, not so bucolic)

Bucksheadtavern20162Described by one 1911 book as “an old and well-known tavern,” this rustic outpost “was ornamented with the head and horns of a buck and was set back a short distance from the street about ten feet higher than the present grade.”

This short description of the tavern also offers a glimpse of the few roads surrounding it.

“It was a favorite road-house for those who drove out upon the Bloomingdale Road (Boston Post Road) … the drivers of the day used to come as far as the Buck’s Horn, then turn through the quiet and shady Love Lane to Chelsea, and thence by the River Road through Greenwich Village and back to the city across the Lispenard meadows.”

Buckhorntavernfire

Buckhorn Tavern “was the stopping-place for the butchers and bakers,” reminisced one New Yorker in 1866, who recalled the cock fights there.

MadisoncottageOh, and it had a ten-pin alley for bowling, a popular pastime in the post-Colonial city.

The Buckhorn met its end in an early morning fire, which consumed the entire building in 1842 along with four stabled horses.

Luckily another popular roadhouse, Madison Cottage (above), was just a few blocks away at Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street—by 1850 a much more populated area.

Found: two more vintage wood phone booths

July 29, 2013

They’re rare, but a few are still out there: the lovely wood booths New Yorkers used to slip into (closing the hinged door behind them for privacy and not to disturb anyone) to make a phone call.

Earinnphonebooth

Old 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 (above) with a stool, overhead fan, and a stand that supports an ATM machine.

Phoneboothmechanicssociety

In better shape but also lacking a phone is this wooden booth, located on the second floor of the magnificent headquarters of the General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen, at 20 West 44th Street.

PhoneboothpatentmechanicsThe door is also hinged, and there’s a little stand where the phone once sat.

A label inside actually notes that the booth was patented in 1919 and lists a phone booth distributor in Brooklyn called the Turner Armour Corporation.

The phone is lovely, but the building itself is a marvel of wonderfully preserved wooden book cases, light fixtures, interior detailing, and a soaring staircase out of the movies.

A colonial tavern is unearthed on Broad Street

January 31, 2013

StadthuysIn 1979, financial giant Goldman Sachs had plans for new headquarters at 85 Broad Street.

Nothing unusual about that—except that 300 years earlier, this address was the location of New Amsterdam’s first city hall, or Stadt Huys (“city house”), built in 1641.

Considering the possibility of uncovering historical remnants, archeologists excavated the site before construction began.

They didn’t find anything related to the Stadt Huys. Instead, they uncovered something that harkens back to the city’s beer-drinking past: the remains of a tavern built next door in 1670.

This was the Lovelace Tavern, once on the water’s edge and named for English governor Francis Lovelace, who presided over the now British-controlled city from 1668 to 1673.

The Lovelace Tavern (probably the little annex on the left in this illustration) even assumed the role of New York’s City Hall from 1697 to 1706, after which it burned down and all traces of it disappeared.

LovelacetavernremainsArcheologists came across some fascinating remains. Besides the tavern’s foundation walls and floor, they discovered thousands of pieces of clay pipes, wine glasses, and wine bottles (empty, unfortunately).

I’m not sure where the pipes and bottles are, but the tavern’s foundation walls were preserved and are actually on view beneath a Plexiglass cover on the plaza of the building.

This Flickr photo gives the clearest view of what remains of the Lovelace. If only those tavern walls could talk. . . .

What remains of Manhattanville’s Claremont Inn

October 14, 2011

The “Claremont, New York” in this turn-of-the-century postcard looks like a Hudson River village, doesn’t it? But it’s actually the site of present-day Riverside Drive and 124th Street.

“Upon the high promontory overlooking the Hudson, on the south side of Manhattanville, is Jones’ Claremont Hotel,” states an 1866 Hudson River guidebook.

“[It’s] a fashionable place of resort for the pleasure-seekers who frequent the Bloomingdale and Kingsbridge roads on pleasant afternoons.”

Originally built as a country estate around 1780, it became a roadside tavern by 1860, a favorite of horsemen, cyclists, and drivers and frequented by wealthy families and celebs of the day, such as Admirable Dewey and Lillian Russell.

Battered by Prohibition and the Depression, the Claremont burned in a mysterious fire in 1951.

The city didn’t completely forget about this remnant of old Manhattanville; a plaque exists in Riverside Park (above), marking the spot where this Hudson River estate turned popular tavern entertained countless New Yorkers.

[Tablet photo from the New York City Parks Department]


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