The oldest bars in NYC are icons for a reason, and if their walls could talk, things would get interesting. From the best-looking bars to rooftop bars to the most romantic bars, the stories they’d tell would be nothing less than riveting. While NYC’s bar and restaurant scene is notorious for a short shelf life, there’s a small handful of drinking establishments that have withstood an unbelievable test of time, several of which have welcomed patrons for over two centuries and counting— and while we don’t anticipate them going anywhere soon, you’ll want to start checking them off your list pronto.
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McSorley’s is New York City’s oldest continuously operated saloon, and if there’s one thing they’ll never let you forget, that’s it. Established in 1854, the Irish pub and its sawdust-covered floors have welcomed the likes of Abe Lincoln, John Lennon and more.
Just 10 years after McSorley’s opened its doors, Pete’s Tavern followed suit in the throes of the Civil War and has since enjoyed the same longevity as its predecessor. Perhaps it’s the luck of the Irish (although the fare itself is Italian-American), or maybe it’s the clever nature of its DNA—throughout Prohibition, Pete’s disguised itself as a flower shop while still keeping its imbibing clientele satiated behind the scenes.
Chumley’s—which first opened as a speakeasy bar in the dead of Prohibition—made a name for itself as a bona fide New York City legend amongst writers of all métiers. It maintained this tenure until its chimney collapsed in 2007, after which it closed for a dormant period followed by an extensive renovation, and it just reopened in 2016.
Neir’s Tavern in Queens has been a favorite of both patrons and filmmakers alike, having served the former since 1829 and the latter in a little production by the name of Goodfellas. It’s also said that Mae West got her start under this very roof—you can even honor her memory with an eponymous burger.
Back in 1892, the influx of Austro-Hungarian immigrants in New York was at an all-time high, and many ended up in Astoria, where the Bohemian Citizens’ Benevolent Society was created. In 1910, the group built a space for their ever-growing organization, and today that space serves as a watering hole for visitors and history buffs alike.