1. Ear Inn

Once upon a time, today’s Ear Inn at 326 Spring Street was just five feet from the shores of the Hudson River. It was built in 1817 by James Brown, an African-American Revolutionary War hero who, after serving as an aide to George Washington, became a successful tobacco farmer.  He built this two and a half-story Federal Townhouse and used the ground floor as a tobacco shop. To this day, the house is sometimes still called The James Brown House. Designated a New York City Landmark in 1969, the Ear Inn got its name after its 1977 re-opening prior to which it was known unofficially as “the Green Door.” Due to restrictions placed on changing the signs on a historical landmark, the owners had to paint over parts of the neon B in “BAR” in order to name it after The Ear (a music magazine that was published upstairs). Much of the building retains its original wooden posts and beams set with pegs. The restaurant doors and windows are from the late 19th century (although there’s no longer an outhouse in the back, of course). Today the second floor has three rooms of gallery space for exhibitions and special events called The Ear Up and live music fills the bar. Click here for more on the Ear Inn’s history. Next check out 10 of the Oldest Surviving Bars in NYC and see what else is going on in NYC’s food scene.