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City Reliquary Museum
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)2/4
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczOld Town Bar & Restaurant
 (Photograph: Jolie Ruben)3/4
Photograph: Jolie RubenThe Bitter End
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)4/4
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczSubway Inn

See vintage NYC at these institutions

Visit a classic dive bar, a quirky museum and more.

By Allison Williams

The City Reliquary Museum (370 Metropolitan Ave at Havemeyer St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-782-4842, is like a really well-curated Hoarders home, where old postcards get as much exhibit space as geologic core samples. The whole operation is run by volunteers, led by FDNY fireman Dave Herman and museum president Bill Scanga. Thanks to a recent renovation, the museum will see some additions this spring, including a collection of boat models—tiny versions of the USS Monitor and Merrimack, as well as the Staten Island Ferry—and a museum store.

Come for the sloppy all-beef hot dog and fries ($7.25), then stay for the loo: The 120-year-old Old Town Bar & Restaurant (45 E 18th St between Broadway and Park Ave South, 212-529-6732) is Union Square’s mahogany-paneled grande dame of a tavern, but it’s still saucy enough to throw a birthday gala for its century-old urinals. (Look for the framed commendation the stately Hinsdale pee troughs received from Mayor Bloomberg in 2010.) Like any good historic watering hole, it was a speakeasy during Prohibition, one favored by the rule-breaking politicians of Tammany Hall.

It’s been a few decades since Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan jammed at The Bitter End (147 Bleecker St between La Guardia Pl and Thompson St; 212-673-7030,, but the storied Greenwich Village club is no fossil—there’s still live music every night. Located on a street of sticky NYU hangouts, the bar boasts of its history with a mural of famous music acts. Remember the ambitious faces you see strumming in front of the famous brick wall: Lady Gaga, Avril Lavigne, Vanessa Carlton and Amos Lee were all once no-namers playing here.

We mourn the passing of the great and gross Mars Bar, Holiday Cocktail Lounge and Siberia, all classic dive bars that folded in recent years. But luckily, the Subway Inn (143 E 60th St between Lexington and Third Aves, 212-752-6500) still stands, even with an influx of ritzy shops around it (although the 1937-built saloon did briefly close for renovations last year). Despite some small upgrades—like Wi-Fi, and Blue Moon and Yuengling on tap—the neon-lit joint is just as charmingly scuzzy as ever.


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