McSorley’s Old Ale House (p.263)
On a snowy February night in 1860 a former congressman from Illinois named Abraham Lincoln made his way to the Great Hall at Cooper Union, where he had been invited to deliver the speech that would catapult him to national fame and the presidency. The school of mechanical arts and sciences had been erected just one year earlier—Mark Twain had given the auditorium’s inaugural address—by philanthropist Peter Cooper. One of Cooper’s closest friends was a barkeep named John McSorley, who had opened a pub in 1854 just around the corner. Of the few surviving drinking establishments that were doing business during Lincoln’s lifetime, McSorley’s is the only one that can claim him as a customer.
Opened in 1872 as Bloomingdale’s Hoopskirt and Ladies’ Notions Shop just a few blocks from its present site, the store had its first success importing the great wood-framed undergarments that had been made stylish by Empress Eugenie of France. The Bloomingdale brothers, Joseph and Lyman—who lived above the store with his wife and son—at first catered to tradespeople and other blue-collar workers who liked nice things but couldn’t afford to shop at most other stores.
Bigelow Chemists (p.13)
At the peak of his fame Mark Twain, who resided around the corner, was a regular customer at this lovely Victorian-style pharmacy in Greenwich Village. Today, Bigelow’s, which has been in business since 1838, is visited for its pharmacy as well as for its exclusive selection of fine European and Japanese cosmetics.... During the extensive East Coast blackouts of 1965 and 1977, Bigelow’s was the only pharmacy from Maine to the Carolinas with sufficient light to remain open for business. It is very likely the only remaining gas-lit apothecary in the nation.
The Historic Shops & Restaurants of New York
In the fastest-changing city in the world, there still exist dozens of shops and restaurants that have been serving New Yorkers for more than a century. Now, for the first time, there is an essential guide—The Historic Shops and Restaurants of New York—that profiles 160 of these living landmarks and reveals their captivating, entertaining histories.
Discover venerable Old World dining rooms, gas-lit taverns, renowned jewelers, and old-world apothecaries and tobacconists from the New York of George Washington, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Harry Houdini, and P. T. Barnum. Visit a backstreet speakeasy, a print shop specializing in rare maps and engravings, and the haberdashery where Abraham Lincoln traded in his backwoods cap for a distinguished stovepipe hat. Explore colorful Lower East Side delicatessens, Greenwich Village coffee merchants, and vintage shops where purveyors of riding boots, andirons, brass beds, and vintage colognes have plied their trades for generations. Listings include bakeries, sweet shops, booksellers, cafes, butchers, hardware stores, home furnishing stores, fishmongers, florists, saloons, stationers, delicatessens, steak houses, and shops specializing in playthings and sporting goods.
The Historic Shops and Restaurants of New York is also a collection of quintessentially American stories of the immigrants—from the pushcart vendors of Eastern Europe to the butchers and pasta makers of Italy—who helped make this city one of the preeminent dining and shopping destinations in the world. The address, phone number, subway stop, and hours for each establishment are included.
"At last there's a definitive guide to the living, breathing artifacts of New York's past that's as charming and singular and useful as the places themselves."
—Kurt Andersen, author of Turn of the Century, Heyday, and Reset; host of Studio 360
"...a lovely travel companion..."
—The Washington Post
"This small but stately book offers a different way of seeing the city—not just Manhattan, but all the boroughs—and a wealth of details."
—The Los Angeles Times
Book design: Louise Fili Ltd
Copyright © 2002 Ellen Williams & Steve Radlauer. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce the book, this website, or portions of either in any form whatsoever.