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Best Historically Significant Bars In New York City

(photo courtesy P.J. Clarke's Facebook page)

New York City is a place steeped in history. Everywhere you turn, there is most likely something historically significant nearby. Head to one of these culturally important bars to take in a little history with your pint.

Related: Best Mixologist Bars In New York City

Fraunces Tavern
54 Pearl St.
New York, NY 10004
(212) 968-1776

The absolute oldest bar in New York City is Fraunces Tavern. The centuries-old building's link to history is long and varied, as it is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Manhattan. It was headquarters for George Washington during the American Revolution and served as a locale for the early American government after America gained independence. Today, it's a popular spot for tourists and the after work crowd. The museum located onsite is a great spot for those what wish to learn more about its history.

P.J. Clarke's
915 3rd Ave.
New York, NY 10022
(212) 317-1616

P.J. Clarke's has been a quiet witness to New York City's history since just a few years after the Civil War. It's a bit unclear exactly what purpose the original building was constructed for back in 1868, but what is known is that by 1884, a Mr. Jennings had turned it into a bar for the local Irish laborers in the area. Patrick Joseph Clarke purchased the building in 1912 and a legend was born. By the 1940s, P.J. Clarke's had become a local spot for many celebrities such as Frank Sinatra. Today, it's still a popular spot and is revered for its long history. P.J. Clarke's also now has several locations throughout the country. P.J.s has also been the setting for "The Lost Weekend" and "Mad Men."

21 Club
21 W. 52nd St.
New York, NY 10019
(212) 582-7200

This upscale bar is famous for being one of New York City's finest speakeasies during the Prohibition period in America. With its hidden bar and secret wine cellar once filled with illegal liquor, 21 Club was the epitome of a speakeasy during that time. The 21 Club has had several famous visitors over the years, including Mary Kate Olsen, Barbara Walters, Gerald and Betty Ford, Joan Rivers, Prince Edward, and Humphrey Bogart. And it's still as busy today as it was back when it opened in 1931. To learn more about its famous guests, check out 21 Club's published guest booked called "Iron Gate 2.0."

Related:  New York's 5 Best Historic Restaurants

Union Course Tavern – Neirs Tavern, Inc.
87-48 78th St.
Woodhaven, NY 11421
(718) 296-0600

Neirs Tavern is one of the oldest bars in New York. According to its owners, the bar has stayed almost continuously open since 1829. It's been known by several names throughout the years, such as Old Abbey, Union Course Tavern and Blue Pump Room, to name a few. Today, the bar is well known for being the site where Mae West made her first appearance and was also in a scene of "Goodfellas." The Neirs family owned the bar for most of its long history, and made the bar their home from its founding until 1967. It was purchased again in 2009 and the new owner revamped it to include a kitchen and other amenities.

White Horse Tavern
567 Hudson St.
New York, NY 10014
(212) 989-3956

The White Horse Tavern is a good place for more literature minded history fans. Its claim to fame is from the poet Dylan Thomas. The story goes that Thomas had his last drink at the tavern. In 1953 he downed 18 shots of whiskey then collapsed outside and later died at local hospital the next day. The bar opened in 1880 and has happier stories to tell. Several additional literary minds such as Allen Ginsberg have paid a visit to the White Horse Tavern throughout the years.

Tracy lives in the downstate area of New York. Some might call her an avid graduation affectionate (MA, Fordham University & MLS, SUNY Buffalo). She'd say she's just waiting for the right degree to come along with a promise and a ring someday. Her work can be found on

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