8. Minetta Tavern (1937)
What was once the city’s largest natural waterway became a sewer, and then, it became the hangout spot of Ernest Hemingway, E.E. Cummings, and other famous writers. The Minetta Tavern opened in 1937 along the long-gone Minetta Brook creek that flowed southwest from present-day 23rd Street to the Hudson River. By the mid-19th century, the Minetta Brook was a covered sewer. Eddi Silieri, known as Eddie “Minetta” opened Minetta Tavern in 1937. Since the original ownership, two Albanian owners and current owner and serial restauranteur Keith McNally have controlled the restaurant. In 2009, the restaurant was “McNallied,” undergoing a renovation that shifted the eatery away from a tavern to a Parisian steakhouse.
Supposedly, the basement of the tavern was the birthplace of the original Reader’s Digest, a digest of entertainment and cultural topics, during the time when it was still a speakeasy called the Black Rabbit. Dewitt and Lila Bell Acheson Wallace rented out the basement of the building and published the first renditions of Readers Digest in it. Author Joe Gould, known also by the penname Professor Seagull, also frequented the tavern as he attempted to write the longest book ever.