Oldest Bar in New York City

Oldest Bar in New York City

New York City is known for many things, like the Empire State Building, Times Square, and the Statue of Liberty. In addition to all these cultural landmarks, New York City is also known for its vibrant food and drink scene. There are bars and restaurants tucked away in multiple corners of the city, many of which have been around for several decades and even centuries!

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the oldest bars in New York City, so let’s dive right in. 

6. Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant

Year Opened: 1913
Location: Lower Level, Grand Central Terminal, 89 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017
Owned by: Oyster Bar Employees

Grand Central Oyster Bar & RestaurantPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve ever passed through the Grand Central terminal, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant. This place is a seafood restaurant and bar that has been around since 1913. Before it was called Grand Central Oyster, this bar was called the Grand Central Terminal Restaurant. An interesting feature of this bar and restaurant is its Guastavino tiled ceilings, which were commonly seen during the early 20th century. 

Grand Central Oyster used to be owned by Jerome Brody, but he sold it to his employees in 1999, two years before he died. Since all of his employees were protected by their union, Brody wanted to ensure that their futures were secure after he passed away. Therefore, all of the restaurants employees owned company stock. Additionally, there are two Grand Central Oyster branches in Japan. 

Did you know?

Grand Central Oyster has a famous arch at its entrance that is widely known for its acoustics, and it has turned the restaurant into a whispering gallery. Therefore, if you stand at the opposite corner of the room, you can hear someone speaking, no matter what their volume is.

5. White Horse Tavern

Year Opened: 1880
Location: 567 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
Owned by: Eytan Sugarman

White Horse TavernPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

In addition to being one of the oldest bars in New York City, the White Horse Tavern is also known for being a gathering space for writers and artists. When it first opened in 1880, it was a longshoremen’s bar for a few years. However, writers like Dylan Thomas began to patronize it in the mid-1950s, and it became popular among writers. 

Since this bar was known for its writer clientele, it has become a popular tourist spot in New York. Some of its other famous visitors include writers like Bob Dylan, Hunter S. Thompson, and Delmore Schwartz. Jack Kerouac was also a popular patron who was removed from the establishment more than one! 

Did you know?

White Horse Tavern was frequently referenced in popular culture, in shows like Mad Men and How I Met Your Mother.

4. Pete’s Tavern

Year Opened: 1864
Location: 129 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003
Owned by: Gary Egan

Pete’s TavernPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Pete’s Tavern has been around for over 130 years in New York City, and has operated continuously as a restaurant and bar ever since it was opened. When its building was first constructed in 1851, it originally housed a hotel that had a bar on its ground floor. A few years later, Tom and John Healy bought the property and renamed it Healy’s Cafe, but later sold it in 1922 to Peter D’Belles.

Once D’Belles took over, it became Pete’s Tavern, and has remained that way ever since! This bar temporarily became a speakeasy during the Prohibition era and was disguised as a florist. Those who knew this secret were led into the bar area through a fake refrigerator door after giving the password, and they would drink in private!

Did you know?

The author O. Henry wrote his story Gift of the Magi in Pete’s Tavern; he was a long time patron and lived in the area.

3. Neir’s Tavern

Year Opened: 1829
Location: 87-48 78th Street, Queens, NY 11421
Owned by: Loycent Gordon

Neir's TavernPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Much like Fraunces Tavern, Neir’s Tavern has played an interesting part in New York City’s history! It has remained in business since it was opened in 1829, even during the Prohibition era; it became a speakeasy during that time. The Neir family owned this bar for several decades, but it was nearly closed down in 2009. However, it was repurchased by new owners and continued to remain in business ever since. 

Several residents of the area and preservationists have petitioned the city of New York to give this old bar an official status under the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, but have been unsuccessful. 

Did you know? 

Neir’s Tavern has been featured in a few movies, like Goodfellas and Tower Heist. It was also featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show, Parts Unknown.

2. The Ear Inn

Year Opened: 1817
Location: 326 Spring St, New York, NY 10013
Owned by: Martin Sheridan and Richard “Rip” Hayman

The Ear InnPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Ear Inn’s building was constructed in the 18th century, in the year 1770 for George Washington’s aide James Brown. In addition to working for Washington, Brown had a successful career trading tobacco, which allowed him to buy the house that turned into the Ear Inn’s current location. 

After Brown died, his house was turned into a bar. As it was located near the Hudson River, a significant portion of its clientele consisted of soldiers! In later years, this bar also turned into a restaurant. It also operated as a speakeasy during the Prohibition era. 

Did you know?

When the current owners of The Ear Inn took over, Sheridan and Hayman didn’t want to go through a lengthy signage-changing process, so they covered the round parts of the letter B so that it read Ear instead of Bar!

1. Fraunces Tavern

Year Opened: 1719
Location: 54 Pearl St, New York, NY 10004
Owned by: Sons of the Revolution

Fraunces TavernPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fraunces Tavern has played a long and interesting role in American history. This bar was originally a home built in the late 1600s by Stephanus van Cortlandt, who was the mayor of New York. The house was sold to Samuel Fraunces by van Cortlandt’s heirs a few decades later. He converted the home into a tavern and called it the Queen’s Head. 

Over the following decades, this tavern became more and more famous during historical events like the American Revolution. For instance, the Sons of Liberty, a secret society during the Revolution, had meetings there, and the British Royal Navy sent a cannonball through the building’s roof during the war. In later years, the building was bombed and demolished, but is currently a museum and bar. 

Did you know? 

The Daughters of the American Revolution prevented Fraunces Tavern’s owners from demolishing the building.


In this article, we walked you through a list of the oldest bars in New York City. The six bars on this list by no means complete the longer list of the oldest bars in New York City, but these have played an important role in American history. It’s worth noting that all of the establishments mentioned on our list are still open and running, so we highly encourage you to visit them if you’re ever in New York!

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