NYC’s oldest Irish Tabern
NYC’s oldest Irish Tabern
The Big Apple is a place full of history and preserves countless corners from other times. From their iconic buildings to centuries-old cobblestone streets, they teleport visitors back in time.
The city is also notable for having bars, some of which have existed for almost two centuries.
One of the most emblematic places is undoubtedly the Old Ale House tavern in McSorley where just by stepping foot inside you can smell history.
Located in the East Village, more precisely at number 15 East 7th St, McSorley’s is the oldest Irish tavern in the entire city of New York and considered one of the Top 5 Historic Bars. It opened its doors in 1854 by Irish immigrant John McSorley and when it opened, the bar was originally called “The Old House at Home.”
This bar has been frequented by personalities from the world of politics such as Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Peter Cooper or Boss Tweed. This tavern is also considered one of the breweries with the longest permanence over time because during Prohibition, it served a type of “near beer” that contained so little alcohol that it was not considered illegal.
Aside from the stone floor and the iron fireplace, the walls are filled with memorabilia such as newspaper articles and old photos, the shackles of a Civil War soldier, even the horseshoe of one of the horses that pulled the hearse. of Abraham Lincoln… everything remains intact since 1910.
Among the interesting objects that can be found when visiting the bar, are some handcuffs that belonged to Harry Houdini, the most famous magician in history (The handcuffs can be seen tied on the bar counter), the chair in which he used to sit President Abraham Lincoln and the wishbones that some American servicemen hung before leaving for World War I.
According to legend, once the war was over, the military returned to collect the bones. Therefore, the lucky bones that we can see today would belong to soldiers who did not manage to survive the conflict.
The last time any memorabilia were removed from its walls was in 1910 and that is why the bar painted on one of its windows that faces 7th Street, the phrase that mentions: “We were here before you were born.” ”
A peculiar fact is that McSorley’s slogan was “good beer, raw onion rings and no women”, a custom that it maintained until 1960, being the last bar in the city to admit only men. The truth is that women were not admitted to this bar until August 10, 1970, after National Organization of Women attorneys Faith Seidenberg and Karen DeCrow filed a discrimination complaint against the bar in the district court that fortunately they won. The two women had entered McSorley’s in 1969 and were denied service, which was the basis of their discrimination complaint.
The ruling in this case made the front page of The New York Times on June 26, 1970. The record established that, as a public place, the bar could not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. It was then that the bar was forced to admit women. In 1970 Barbara Shaum became the bar’s first female customer. With the ruling ordering that women be served, the bathroom became unisex. Only 16 years later, more precisely in 1986, a women’s bathroom was installed.
In 2004, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to declare February 17 as McSorley’s Day to pay tribute to this tavern.
Another curious fact about this historic site is that until 2011, McSorley’s kept a cat to hunt mice in its facilities until a law was passed prohibiting that practice. In November 2016, the establishment closed its doors for a week due to health code violations that were quickly resolved.
In 2017, McSorley’s added the famous and exquisite Feltman’s Coney Island hot dogs to its menu, the first time the menu was changed in more than its 50 years of existence. Feltman’s owner Michael Quinn was a former employee of McSorley’s, and during the late 19th century, his restaurant on Coney Island was a popular destination for the McSorley family.
Also, the great thing about this place is that, when you order a beer, they serve two glasses. Without a doubt, for lovers of history, beer and pubs, this place is a must.
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NYC’s oldest Irish Tabern
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