A dive bar is probably not the first place one would look to find New York City’s rich history. The following places, however, are not your average bars. As the oldest bars in NYC, most of them were around when the Brooklyn Bridge first opened in 1883. Their walls are covered in history, echoing the ghosts they have acquired over more than a century. They have been characters in a number of movies and books, and are in countless photographs. Their famed patrons range from George Washington to Bob Dylan, as varied as the neighborhoods where they are located, but it’s the neighborhood residents that have breathed life into these watering holes over the last 100+ years.
1. Fraunces Tavern (1762)
If you are looking for George Washington’s tooth, Fraunces Tavern is the place to be. The building on the corner of Pearl Street and Broad Street in the Financial District was constructed in 1719 in the Georgian style, as a home for the Delancey family. Samuel Fraunces, a revolutionary whose race remains a mystery, turned the yellow brick structure into a tavern called the Queen’s Head. It was a meeting spot for the Sons of Liberty and George Washington gave his farewell speech here on December 4, 1783.
Since 1904 the tavern has been under the ownership of the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York. Though the many reconstructions it has undergone have attempted to restore the original edifice, several fires in the 19th century made it impossible to know the original building plan. Nowadays Fraunces Tavern multitasks as a museum as well as a functioning restaurant and bar. Aside from being one of the oldest bars in NYC, it holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.