Watering-hole Wednesday

1a

We’ve lost a lot of good old-school bars over the years (RIP Milady’s, we loved you so). But Old Town Bar, located on East 18th Street by Gramercy Park, has been holding strong since 1892, having served over the years as a German-American salon, an alleged speakeasy, a blue-collar hangout, and a pivotal location in Whit Stillman’s film The Last Days of Disco. Last weekend Old Town celebrated its 125th anniversary, and in anticipation, we spoke with bar owner Gerry Meagher about Old Town’s history, Union Square in the Bad Old Days, and those famous urinals.
Can you tell us a little about the bar’s history? How did it get its name?
It started in 1892 and it was originally, like a lot of taverns in New York in the 1890s, a German-American place. It was originally owned by Jacob Berckel. [He and his manager] ran one of the original salons. We have a card that was sent to us by the manager from the 1890s, it was a business card they used in those days.

Jacob Berckel ran it, from what we understand, to the early part of the 20th century. And then it was taken over by a fellow named Viemeister, who was another German-American. It continued as an old-style German-American tavern up until Prohibition, around 1918, when it became Craig’s Restaurant. We don’t have it verified that they serving liquor in those days. There are some booths you pull out, and what we were told is that liquor was put underneath the booths whenever there was a raid, which the bar was usually told about in advance. So it seemed to operate as sort of a speakeasy in those days. After Prohibition, in 1933, it became The Old Town Bar & Restaurant, which was taken over by another German-American family, the Lohdens.

@ The Gothamist

About Den

Always in search of interesting things to post. Armed with knowledge and dangerous with the ladies.
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8 Responses to Watering-hole Wednesday

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Yes, that is surely needed.

    Like

  2. Den says:

    2017, the year for natural disasters and man made, one particular lunatic that just happens to be President, blew up the UN with vile rhetoric, doom is imminent.

    Like

  3. Micki says:

    Old Town was one of Bill’s favorite spots in the Flatiron District. Further uptown, at 68th & Columbus, across rom ABC News, he and his news’ pals frequented Paddy McGlade’s. Both bars were classic places to drink, converse, and debate. Or just listen. I don’t know if it’s true, but the story is that Old Town has a no cell phone policy at the bar and patrons actually honor that! How cool is that?!

    McGlade’s shut down after a 100-year+ run sometime in the early 90s. I think there’s a Starbucks at the location now.

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  4. Den says:

    I wish that watering hole was here, nothing but stupid redneck bars here where violence is common. I tried to boil out the intestinal festering with 8 shots of brandy yesterday after stopping eating past breakfast. I have an incredible tolerance for alcohol, just forgot last nights GIF. This AM I am waiting to see if it worked. I had good results in the past with Blackberry Brandy but I had to settle for VSOP this time. My Doctor is gone until next week and the nurse did not seem to be to eager to help so I must take things into my own hands. That was my last ditch effort to quell the squirts, drinking lots of water now to replace what was lost, so far so good, fingers crossed.

    Like

  5. Micki says:

    Shaken…not stirred!

    Now, Fukushima.

    Like

  6. Micki says:

    Katie, bar the door!

    Like

  7. Den says:

    Drama-O-Plenty from natural disasters to political disasters.

    I prefer Comedy:

    Like

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