White Horse Tavern was the bar of New York’s literary scene, made famous by the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (who died after a night of heavy drinking at the pub). It also counted Norman Mailer, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Jack Kerouac among its patrons. Kerouac was such a regular (and disruptive) drinker that he once found “Kerouac go home!” scrawled on the bathroom wall.
The Beats had two main stomping grounds during their long tenure in New York City: Morningside Heights and Greenwich Village. Assuming the average Columbia student is more than familiar with the former, this week's Neighborhood Watch will take on the Village. Sixty years after the Beats' heyday, some of their classic haunts remain. Rediscover jazz, coffee shops, and dives, and who knows—maybe you'll be as inspired as the Beats were.
Neighborhood Watch: Greenwich Village
Since its opening in 1935, the Village Vanguard has been one of the best spots in the city for jazz, having hosted greats such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Charlie Parker. In addition to musicians, the Vanguard was also a forum for poets and artists in the Beats’ days. Kerouac did a series of readings there in December of 1957.
In the Beats’ time, the Barrow St. Alehouse was called Café Bohemia, a restaurant and jazz club that was immortalized in jazz numbers like “Bohemia After Dark” and “‘Round About Midnight at Café Bohemia.” Like the Village Vanguard, it was frequented by jazz stars like Charlie Parker and Miles Davis. Though the jazz is now gone, the building remains the same: a dark, converted 19th-century stable and carriage house. Barrow Street Alehouse prides itself on its craft beer bar and pub fare.
In the 1950s, Kerouac frequented this bar when his old high school friend, Henri Cru, was a bouncer. With its laid-back environment and cheap food, it was the perfect spot for the writers and bohemians of the West Village. Today, there remains a very compelling, money-saving reason for hitting up this bar: $4 margaritas all day, every day.