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Jazz Age Lawn Party
Photograph: Lauren Spinelli

Five NYC spots that’ll transport you to the 1920s

Here's how to live like you're Daisy Buchanan.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan

With The Great Gatsby's green light coming to the Great White Way, you might want to recreate the 1920s aesthetic in your own life. It is the Roaring ’20s once again, after all (well, the 2020s, rather than the 1920s).

Several places in NYC have the power to transport you back in time to when radio was the biggest form of at-home entertainment and the backs of pharmacies were the best place to slip a whiskey down your gullet. From speakeasy-style bars to Harlem Renaissance spots to cool shops, here are five places to live like you’re Daisy Buchanan—the ‘it girl’ in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s beloved tale.

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The Back Room

Sip a cocktail in a teacup at this legit 1920s speakeasy on the Lower East Side. To find The Back Room, you'll have to work for it. Look for a sign that reads "THE LOWER EAST SIDE TOY COMPANY," pass through the gate, walk down an alleyway, and up a set of stairs where you'll find a gleaming bar and a raucous party. 

Cocktails are poured into teacups—just like they were during the Prohibition. The bar actually operated during that era and played host to many famous stars and gangsters of the era (like Bugsy Siegel, Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky) who used the space for, ahem, "business meetings." With the bar's 1920s decor, you'll feel like you're a part of New York City's boozy history. 

Archibald J. Motley, Jr., Black Belt
Photograph: By Alexander Kravets

The Harlem Renaissance exhibit at The Met

During the 1920s and '30s, Black artists formed a culture centered Black identity and dignity through art, and Harlem was the epicenter. The Met is now spotlighting the art created in that era at a new exhibition  "The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism."

Walk through 160 paintings and sculptures by Black artists from the Harlem Renaissance while exploring many different aspects of the movement. Also don't miss copies of zines that were a central part of the movement, including Alaine Locke’s The New Negro and Aaron Douglas’ Fire!!, which explored then-taboo topics like sex work and queerness. 

The inside of the Chrysler Building.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan for Time Out

The Chrysler Building lobby

In 1928, construction began on Chrysler Building sending this Art Deco masterpiece into the sky in a period of just two years. Its fame has transcended the decades, making it one of the most famous buildings in the world. 

Though it's a private office building, you can walk through the lobby and glance at some of the Art Deco designs inside. If you enter or exit the subway station there, you'll see all kinds of decor and designs straight from the 1920s. (Look for the Subway sign on East 43rd Street between Lexington and Third Avenue).

A sign reading "Women's Work" at the exhibit.
Photograph: By Glenn Castellano, New-York Historical Society

Women's Work at New-York Historical Society

The Women’s Work exhibit at New-York Historical Society examines the history of women in the workforce from the 1740s to today. As for objects from the 1920s, look for a typewriter ribbon meant to show the history of women working as typists, receptionists, and stenographers. Though the conditions of the office were appealing, women were expected to quit upon marrying—an expectation that persisted until the 1970s. 

The exhibit also explores how women’s wartime work during WWI (which ended in 1918) helped justify the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment, ostensibly securing women’s right to vote.  

Fabulous Fanny's

You’ll definitely want to look the part in your ’20s journey, and some vintage eyewear can take any outfit to the next level. Fabulous Fanny’s has a collection of vintage sunglasses and glasses, along with spot-on reproductions. The retro shop’s Berwin 46 glasses look like they were pulled straight from Jay Gatsby's wardrobe.  

jazz age lawn fest
Photograph: Lauren Spinelli

Bonus: Jazz Age Lawn Party

We can’t in good conscience include this in the top five because it’s not available all year long, but the Jazz Age Lawn Party celebrates the best of the 1920s. It comes back every summer and you won’t want to miss it.

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