Serving Up History: 5 Historical Bars in New York City

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Serving Up History: 5 Historical Bars in New York City
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Pete's Tavern in New York City, established in 1864. (Photo courtesy of Pete's Tavern.)

New York has a rich history, right down to its bars that have stood the test of time despite many others opening and closing all around the city. There's nothing wrong with going to a bar that opened within the past few months, but there's something extra special about going to an establishment that's been around so long that your great-grandparents could have been there for a drink. You can't help but walk into one of these historical bars and wonder how many stories could come out of them. If you're in the mood to grab a drink, consider one of these historical bars around New York City.

The Porterhouse at Fraunces Tavern

One usually doesn't expect to go to a bar and a museum in the same place, but that's just what you'll get at The Porterhouse at Fraunces Tavern. The location first opened in 1762 and at the time was known as Queen's Head Tavern. It opened and closed over the years and now is part of a building that also houses a restaurant and museum. So despite being open since the 1700s, what else makes it historic? On December 4, 1783, George Washington said goodbye to the officers of the Continental Army in the Long Room of Fraunces Tavern. The establishment has also endured several fires and even a bombing. Interestingly, according to the Frances Tavern Block Historic District Designation Report from 1978, "The entire block was under water until approximately 1689." While the building's block was added to the National Register of Historic Places in New York in 1977, the building itself was added in 2008.

The Porterhouse at Fraunces Tavern

54 Pearl St.

New York, NY 10004

www.frauncestavern.com

McSorley's Old Ale House

In 1854, The Old Ale House at Home was opened by John McSorley. From 1905 to 1906, they attempted to serve hard alcohol in addition to ale, but it didn't go over well, and from then on, only ale has been served. In 1908, the sign was changed to read McSorley's Old Time Ale House, but it was later shortened to just McSorley's Old Ale House. Despite a female owner -- Dorothy O'Connell Kirwan -- taking over in 1939, women were not allowed in the bar until 1970.

McSorley's Old Ale House

15 E. Seventh St.

New York, NY 10003

www.mcsorleysnewyork.com

Pete's Tavern

According to their website, "Pete's Tavern is the oldest continuously operating restaurant & bar in New York City." There's also a sign hanging over the bar that states the same. Established in 1864, it reportedly operated with a flower shop as its front during the Prohibition era. It's also said to be where O. Henry wrote "The Gift of the Magi" in a booth toward the front of the bar.

Pete's Tavern

129 E. 18th St.

New York, NY 10003

www.petestavern.com

Bridge Cafe

The Bridge Cafe dates back all the way to 1794, and according to their site, they are "The Oldest Drinking Establishment in New York." It was there decades before the Brooklyn Bridge. Did we mention that it's a former brothel? It's also rumored to be haunted by Gallus Mag, a 6-foot-tall female bouncer from the 19th century who had no qualms about biting off the ears of rowdy bar patrons and throwing them in a jar on the shelf. Talk about a location having a colorful history.

Bridge Cafe

279 Water St.

New York, NY 10038

www.bridgecafenyc.com

The Stonewall Inn

When The Stonewall Inn opened in March 1967, it was the largest gay establishment in the United States. On June 28, 1969, it was -- according to the site -- "the birthplace of the modern Gay Rights movement." At the time, police raids on gay bars and establishments weren't uncommon. There were laws prohibiting homosexuality, including exhibiting public displays of affection and dancing with each other, and it was even illegal to serve alcohol to those who were gay. Shortly after 1 a.m. on June 28, 1969, a group of police officers arrived for yet another raid against the establishment, but this time, they were met with resistance. A riot ensued followed by more in the days after, and the actions completely changed the face of the LGBT community. It's incredible to think about, considering NYC today has one of the largest gay communities in the United States and is the home of an extremely popular annual gay pride parade. The slogan of The Stonewall Inn is, appropriately, "Where Pride Began."

The Stonewall Inn

53 Christopher St.

New York, NY 10014

www.thestonewallinnnyc.com

The next time you're venturing out to grab a drink, consider heading over to one of the aforementioned bars. You'll get a little history served up with good food and beer.

Lauren Romano fell in love with NYC at a young age and has since navigated her way through the stores, museums, clubs, restaurants, parks, markets, and everything else the city has to offer.

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