Photo: Business Insider
These eateries have weathered some of America’s most tumultuous times and lived to tell the tale.They’ve witnessed the changes wrought by the Revolutionary War and survived the bleak days of Prohibition.
New York City has 23,499 active restaurants, 157 of which were new in 2010.
However, few have put down roots like the city’s staunchest culinary survivors.
Whether you’re a visiting history buff or a resident historiographer, these bars and restaurants chronicle New York life through the centuries.
17 Barrow Street
The restaurant, housed in what was originally Vice President Aaron Burr's carriage house, has been dubbed the most romantic restaurant in New York City. The restaurant's building has been a part of the city's restaurant scene since 1972.
Yelp.com reviewers called the restaurant 'perfect for couples,' and 'extremely romantic.'
228 W. 52nd Street
This speakeasy began in 1927 and gave the people what they wanted during the time of the 18th Amendment: 'a good stiff drink and a great steak.'
The restaurant hung around after the 1933 repeal of Prohibition because they kept filling their niche. Gallagher's, which has served everyone from ballerinas to gangsters, is the only steakhouse in the city its steak over hickory coals, according to the restaurant's website.
However, according to some reviews, the historical landmark might be losing its touch. A reviewer on Trip Advisor claimed the steak was 'average at best,' and the 'quality and the buzz are gone,' from the restaurant.
86 Bedford Street
The former blacksmith's shop was established in 1926 when Leland Stanford Chumley transformed it into a speakeasy. In honour of its Prohibition days, both the Bedford and Barrow streets entrance are unmarked and the restaurant is still outfitted with trap doors and secret stairs.
The restaurant closed in April, 2007 when a chimney in the dining room collapsed. It plans to reopen in 2011.
Reviewers on Yelp.com mourned the closing, adding 'The beer selection and atmosphere are good, but this place is really about history and creativity.'
205 E. Houston Street
The traditional delicatessen was established in 1888 by a Russian immigrant family. To the immigrant residents of the Lower East Side, Katz's recreated the flavours of the Old World, making it a popular gathering spot.
What makes the eatery a true delicatessen is its meat preparation and preservation. Prior to refrigeration, delicatessens used smoking, pickling and other curing methods to preserve their meat -- a tradition Katz's continues.
According to Yelp.com reviewers, Katz's is 'worth the hype.'
72 W. 36th Street
The steakhouse boasts the largest collection of church warden pipes in the world -- a fact it is quite proud of. The hard clay pipes were brought from the Netherlands and as many as 50,000 were ordered every three years. Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, and 'Buffalo Bill' Cody used to belong to the Pipe Club.
Keens Chophouse, which used to belong to the famous theatre group Lambs Club, was opened independently in 1885 by Albert Keen. Trip Advisor users called the chophouse a 'lovely old fashioned restaurant,' with 'superb' food.
449 Court Street
The restaurant, which was originally called Ryan's, was a gathering place for Norwegian fishermen. The neighbourhood then became Italian-American and, according to the restaurant's website, it's rumoured Al Capone brewed beer in the basement during Prohibition.
Now, the restaurant caters to sports' fan and barbecue's every weekend using its special recipe.
Trip Advisor reviewers called the spot a 'great old bar,' saying 'Think Cheer's for the Brooklyn set.'
15 E. 17th Street
The bar's slogan is 'We were here before you were born.' And, as it was established in 1854, they mean it. The ale house, located at 15 E. 7th Street, serves only two drinks: light beer and dark beer. Fidelio Brewery, the company behind McSorley's famous brew, was forced to move its brewing operations into the bar's basement during Prohibition until the 18th Amendment was repealed.
Despite the fact the bar is 'not really a family friendly atmosphere,' reviews on Trip Advisor called it a 'must just to have some cheap drinks.'
326 Spring Street
The structure was built in 1817 for James Brown, a man rumoured to have been George Washington's aides during the Revolution. It then became a spiritual establishment in the mid-19th century and was transformed into a speakeasy during Prohibition. The upstairs apartment was alternately a boarding house, smuggler's den, and brothel.
Following the repeal of Prohibition, the bar had no name until new owners in 1977 christened it the Ear Inn.
The bar resembles an 'old bar out in the back ends of Ireland somewhere,' according to one Yelp.com reviewer.
279 Water Street
When it was first established in 1794, the building originally housed a 'grocery and wine and porter bottler,' according to the restaurant's website. In 1826, the building's-then owner leased the space to saloon and boarding house operators.
The building ran through a variety of owners until the current owners bought it in 1979 and renamed it the Bridge Cafe.
A New York tourist on Yelp.com said Bridge Cafe ' didn't disappoint. The service was fantastic. The food was great. The ghost stories are wonderful.'
54 Pearl Street
The restaurant-tavern-museum-combo, which was originally named the Queen's Head, has been owned by the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York, Inc.since 1904. However, the current structure was built as a house in 1719, by Etienne 'Stephen' DeLancey, the son-in-law of former New York mayor Stephanus van Cortlandt. DeLancey's heirs sold the building in 1762 to Samuel Fraunces who converted the building into a tavern.
Zagat reviews called the setting great but the food ordinary. 'Go for the history not for the gastronomy,' one reviewer advised.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.