3. Neir’s Tavern (1829)
Photograph Courtesy of Neir’s Tavern
Neir’s Tavern got its start catering to gamblers at the nearby Union Course horse racing track in Woodhaven, Queens. Originally known at its opening in 1829 as the Blue Pump Room, and later as the Old Abbey, it was known as a rough and tumble hangout for the wild crowds that would frequent the races, specializing in rum. The business’ reputation changed drastically in 1898 when it was purchased by its namesake, Louis Neir, who gave it a makeover as a “social hall,” featuring a ballroom, bowling alley, and rooms for rent. While Neir’s name was forgotten when the place was resold again in 1967 and renamed the Union Course Tavern, it received a long due remodeling in 2009, and its previous name of Neir’s was restored.
While Neir’s hasn’t retained the kind of name recognition it had a century ago, it has taken on a new identity in film and TV. It was used in the 2011 action flick Tower Heist, and has been featured in Goodfellas. It’s also a favorite of several starlets: W.C. Fields famously loved the tavern, and it was apparently the spot of Mae West’s first performance.