14. The Players (Founded 1888)

The Players
Photo by Michael Gerbino, Courtesy of The Players

In 1888, Edwin Booth, brother to the infamous John Wilkes Booth, founded The Players at 16 Gramercy Park South together with fifteen other incorporators, including Mark Twain and General William Tecumseh Sherman. It was intended as a club where actors could socialize with the elite and elevate their status from rabble-rousers to artists. Housed in a stately Greek Revival townhouse, The Players occupies four floors, plus the Grill and taproom in the basement. Appropriately, a theater is located on the main floor.

A curious artifact is the bedroom of Booth on the third floor, which remains full of his mementos, exactly as he left it. Walking into the room, you can still smell the tobacco scent of smoke that clung to the wallpaper. One peculiar item in the room is a human skull. The skull was given to Edwin’s father, Junius Brutus Booth, also a renowned Shakespearean actor. Junius passed the skull on to Edwin, who used it as a prop in Hamlet. You can also find Mark Twain’s pool cue at the club as well. See more photos of The Players here. The taproom is included in the book New York: Hidden Bars and Restaurants by Untapped Cities writers Michelle Young and Laura Itzkowitz.