This Gramercy Park spot, Pete’s Tavern, is one of the oldest bars in New York City–author O. Henry penned “The Gift of the Magi” in one of the booths.
On December 10, 1905, William Sidney Porter, under the pseudonym O. Henry, published a short story “The Gift of the Magi” in the magazine New York Sunday World. It later became part of his collection entitled The Four Million in 1906. Legend has it, the entire story was written in a booth one of the oldest bars in NYC, Pete’s Tavern–in only a few hours on one night. The building where the tavern is located has been around since 1829 but it was established in 1864.
From our previous coverage of Pete’s Tavern: although signs on the entrance claim Pete’s to be the oldest in the city, it is often disputed by other locations. As was the case for a lot of other pubs and taverns, Prohibition meant business as usual, though Pete’s brief status as a flower shop was one of the more creative covers for the location.
O. Henry’s story tells the holiday tale of two poor lovers that sell their prized possession to buy their spouse a gift. The wife, who sells her beautiful hair, can not use the bejeweled comb her husband got her. The husband sold his luxury watch to afford the comb, and the wallet chain his wife buys is obsolete as well.