Greenwich Village is one of the most unique communities in New York City. Located in Manhattan, it has served as a center for artists, writers, musicians and actors for well over a century. That means Greenwich has been a cornerstone of NYC’s cultural scene for a long time—and that means there are some great stories to be told about some of the greatest storytellers to live there. The established watering holes of the Village have layers upon layers of lore about just about everyone. The Greenwich Village Literary Pubcrawl, the Village’s oldest walking tour, helps unearth those tales.
The Greenwich Village Literary Pubcrawl was founded in 1998, making it the oldest walking tour in the neighborhood. Originally founded by a small theater company as a way to help finance their productions, the tour today is primarily about illuminating the history of Greenwich Village and the artistic greats that have lived—and drank—in the bounds of the Village. The tour attracts a small number of people, usually literary aficionados like myself. Our group was about five people and our knowledgeable guides led us through three of the taverns, several landmarks, numerous stories and many of the winding Village streets on a sunny Saturday afternoon in September. We met on the corner of Hudson Street and 11th Street, just outside the White Horse Tavern, our first stop.
Our first stop on the tour was the White Horse Tavern, which is quite possibly the oldest pub still in operation in Greenwich Village. In fact, only one bar in the whole of NYC is older than this establishment. The White Horse has long been a favorite haunt for writerly types, including famed 20th-century poet Dylan Thomas, a Welshman who made many tours of the U.S. The business is still cash-only and the building belies its age, with its tiny bathrooms clearly speaking to a bygone era. We met up at this cozy location, where the servers know the Pubcrawl staff by name and also enjoy listening to them recount the lore surrounding the pub—and even do a couple of dramatic poetry readings.
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