City Spotlight:: Raise a Glass to Literary Greenwich Village
For a traditional speakeasy that (sort of) stands today, Chumley's, located at 86 Bedford Street, is a literary hotspot where writers and artists of the Jazz Age like William Faulkner, Eugene O'Neill and poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay sipped bathtub gin and bootleg whiskey. The walls are lined with book jackets, most written and autographed by literary regulars, and as the bar moved into the Beat Generation and beyond, photographs of famous writers like Ginsberg, John Steinbeck and J.D. Salinger were added.
Today Chumley's retains much of its Prohibition aesthetic, lacking any sort of signage above its front and side entrances and having a number of secret passageways. Rumor has it that the term "86" originated from Chumley's 86 Bedford Street address, and that the police would call the bar before a raid to inform the owner to "86" his customers, which meant that they should exit from the front onto Bedford Street while the police came in through the side entrance on Pamela Court.
Chumley closed its doors in 2007 due to a chimney collapse and is still working to reestablish itself as a bar in this residential Village block. An official opening date has not been set, though rumors suggest Chumley's may welcome patrons back in the coming year.
Nearly oldest bar in New York City, McSorley's Ale House, located in the East Village at 15 E. 7th Street, is known for its unchanging character. The bar became famous for its strict all-male policy, which was upheld from its creation in the 1850s until 1970 when the National Organization of Women filed a discrimination case against McSorley's. One of the bar's famous mottos was "Good Ale, Raw Onions and No Ladies." Though the beer selection is limited (light and dark lager), McSorley's is generous with portions, serving two mugs of ale with every order as it has since it first opened.