“Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” DYLAN THOMAS.
And rage he did – with the White Horse Tavern being the last glimpse of illuminated scenery to this good poet’s life and resistance from the inevitable arms of death.
Before all the White Horses
It’s been 130 years since the White Horse Tavern first opened its doors but the history of this location goes back even further than that. Today, after decades of history and famous clientele, one of the oldest wood-framed buildings in Greenwich Village still draws the regulars as well as curious tourists – clearly they still sell alcohol.
By 1827, the West Village had become home to a large population of New Yorkers, especially blue-collar workers – clearly there were far fewer real estate brokers at the time. Row houses had been constructed throughout the area to accommodate the growing number of residents. One of those buildings was located on the corner of Hudson and 11th Streets; a wood-framed building with brick exterior standing three stories high.
The first floor hosted a bookstore from the time the building opened. Eventually a restaurant known as the James Dean Oyster House moved in during the mid-1800s. But by 1880, the restaurant had run its course and White Horse Tavern opened in its place.
Blue Collar Boozing
With its proximity to the piers on the west side of Manhattan, specifically Christopher Street Pier, which opened in 1828 and handled the arrival of cargo for the entire city, White Horse Tavern drew mostly longshoremen (men who worked on the piers), coming for a drink after their day ended. Most of the blue-collar clientele were also immigrants who had recently moved to the area.
The name of the bar was reflected in the décor. Images of white horses hang all around, including one very prominent horse on the., ...