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Braveheart
November 27th, 2005, 11:50 AM
Hello Everyone,

Lately I have been putting some time doing some genealogy research on my father's side of the family. It is known that one side of my paternal German ancestors owned a saloon in lower Manhattan(around 1880 to about the early 1900s - I found an 1880 NY census record verifying their occupation). Unfortunately I do not have the name of their establishment, or exact location(my father believes it was potentially located near the alphabet avenues), which is what I am trying to find out. I was just curious to know if anyone out there may have suggestions for me as to where I should turn to, to try and discover this information.

I am wondering if saloons held liquor licenses back then, and if so, would records still exist that could give me some clues? If so, would it be the New York State Department of Liquor that I would write to for such potential records? Perhaps there are other records that may exist that I am not thinking of?

Any thoughts or insight to this would greatly be appreciated!

lofter1
November 27th, 2005, 12:13 PM
A good start would be at the NYC Municipal Archives: http://www.nyc.gov/html/records/html/about/archives.shtml

The Archives are in the Surrogates Court Building on Chambers St. across from the Manhattan Municipal Building and City Hall Park (the building alone is fantastic and is used by "Law and Order" for many interior shots).

From the website:


Founded in 1950, the Municipal Archives preserves and makes available the historical records of New York City municipal government. Dating from the early seventeenth century to the present, the Municipal Archives holdings total approximately 160,000 cubic feet. Accessioned from more than one hundred city agencies, the collections comprise office records, manuscript material, still and moving images, ledger volumes, vital records, maps, blueprints, and sound recordings.

Collection highlights include vital records, census, and city directories that are an essential resource for patrons conducting family history research, the number one hobby in America. Records pertaining to the administration of criminal justice, dating from 1684 to 1966, constitute the largest and most comprehensive collection of such material in the English-speaking world. There are more than one million photographic images in fifty collections including pictures of every house and building in the city, ca. 1940.
Legislative branch records date back to the first Dutch colonial government in New Amsterdam. Robert Moses’ papers document the city’s vast infrastructure from 1934 through 1959, and the records of mayoral administrations provide extensive information about every aspect of New York City from 1849 to the present.

lofter1
November 27th, 2005, 12:21 PM
The New York State Liquor Authority is the agency in charge of liquor licenses. I believe it was established ~ 1920s, so it may not have info for the period you are looking for.

ZippyTheChimp
November 27th, 2005, 12:46 PM
This is just a shot in the dark, but as I read your post, the name of a bar popped into my head.

It was not on the Lower East Side, but downtown Manhattan. Suerkens, on the corner of Church and Barclay Sts, had some signage that dated its establishment to the 1880s.

It was a typical merchants' bar/restaurant of the area that survived the "urban renewal" of Lower Manhattan in the 1960s.

I had only been there about a dozen times in the 1980s. What I remember most was a beautifully carved S-shaped bar that appeared original to the place.

Sometime in the late 1980s, it was sold, and quickly gutted over a weekend, and divided into tiny forgettable shops. Walking by one day after the interior demolition, I looked through a window and could not believe that the bar itself was not removed and sold, but demolished.

I would be amazed if this turned out to be the place you are looking for.

Braveheart
November 27th, 2005, 01:01 PM
A good start would be at the NYC Municipal Archives: http://www.nyc.gov/html/records/html/about/archives.shtml

The Archives are in the Surrogates Court Building on Chambers St. across from the Manhattan Municipal Building and City Hall Park (the building alone is fantastic and is used by "Law and Order" for many interior shots).

From the website:

Hello Lofter,

Thank you for that tip, it certainly sounds like there would be some promise of finding some information from the archives.

Braveheart
November 27th, 2005, 01:06 PM
This is just a shot in the dark, but as I read your post, the name of a bar popped into my head.

Hello Zippy,

I believe I may have some luck. I've just found out that one of my cousins may have a very old photograph of the front of the saloon. With some luck, I just might be able to find out the name of the bar. I'll be writing my cousin a letter later this week to see if he can provide some more information.

lofter1
November 27th, 2005, 02:50 PM
^ If you get that photo and can post it here that would be greatly appreciated!!

Bridey
January 18th, 2006, 07:53 PM
Hello Braveheart,

My Dad was the bartender at Suerkens restaurant from approximately 1957 until the day the bar closed which I believe was in 1987. The bar was owned by Dave Chesney and left to Dave by his father after he passed.

I do know a bit of history and have a photo or two. It was a very dismal day in downtown Manhattan when this very well loved watering hole closed. So well loved, that Newsday did an article on the bar, my father, and all the deals and City Hall gossip that was passed back and forth on a daily basis. I would love to know what you found to date and if I can be of further help.

Schadenfrau
January 18th, 2006, 08:23 PM
I'd be happy to dig up that Newsday article, if it would be of any help to you. This sounds like a very interesting project, Braveheart.

ZippyTheChimp
January 18th, 2006, 08:34 PM
Bridey,

Which end of the bar did your father work?

I just remembered the backwards clock. :)

Bridey
January 18th, 2006, 08:44 PM
Hi Zippy,

My father worked many nights on his own. The backwards clock was definitely a trademark of the place. I only visited a couple of times in my late teens during lunch when I attended classes nearby.

My father was a bit over 6 feet, his name was Jim. Any memories?

ZippyTheChimp
January 19th, 2006, 09:02 AM
The times I had gone there before it closed were usually in the afternoon.

I asked that question before deciding whether to relate how I discovered Suerkens. I'm not sure about names, but the bartenders in question were not 6 ft tall.

One morning, a coworker and I were at a customer location on Wall St. We had lunch and a few beers somewhere in the area. Afterward, walking up Church St back to my work location, it began to rain hard. We quickly got drenched and ducked into Suerkens, sat at the almost empty bar, and ordered beers.

The bartender brings me back changed for $10. As he walked away, I said,

"Excuse me, I put up a twenty."

He checked the cash register with a flourish, said I was right, and brought me a ten. He walked away, and I said to my friend,

"What the hell was that?"

We figured that maybe because we already had a few and were soaking wet, he thought we were easy marks. We finished the beers and left.

We went back for lunch the next day, and headed for the front end of the bar. I related the incident to the other bartender (the name Ralph comes to mind), who shook his head in embarrassment and put the drinks on the house. Good bartender, full of stories. We stopped in with large groups maybe once every few weeks until they finally closed.

I'll take a photo of that corner. You won't like it.

Ninjahedge
January 19th, 2006, 09:29 AM
Sounds liek a classic "Good tender/Bad tender" relationship... ;)

Schadenfrau
January 19th, 2006, 11:45 AM
I couldn't find a Newsday article, but I think this NY Times article might be what you're remembering, Bridey:



The New York Times
September 24, 1986
HEADLINE: NEW YORK DAY BY DAY;
City Hall Adjunct Forced to Close
By Marvine Howe and Alexander Reid


For more than three decades, Jimmy Meehan presided over a 19th-century corner of lower Manhattan. Behind a 35-foot serpentine mahogany bar at Suerken's Restaurant at Park Place and Church Street, Jimmy - it is almost impossible to think of him as Mr. Meehan - got to know the restlessly changing cast of City Hall regulars, from the highest-ranking officials to the hardest-working bureaucrats.

This crew-cut giant in his ill-fitting red jacket belonged to the vanishing-breed variety of bartender - the kind who remembers names and nicknames, favored brands and detested bosses.

When Jimmy was closing up the place last Friday night, he was told not to come back Monday. After 109 years, Suerken's has closed.

''We lost our lease,'' said David Salonsky, who with his parents were the proprietors of Suerken's. ''We were doing fabulously - better business than ever. You don't necessarily have to fail to close.''

''My family has been here for 30 years,'' Mr. Salonsky said, ''so we're very close to the place.'' One way or other, perhaps by reviving the Suerken's name, the family hopes to reopen at another location.

Meanwhile, the bar and other accouterments have been salvaged by Evan Blum of Irreplaceable Artifacts, 14 Second Avenue, at Houston Street.

Sentiment aside, Mr. Blum noted the bar's unusual features - mahogany throughout, a ''graceful'' swan's-neck shape and custom equipment built in to fit the curves, a pair of carved caryatids, beveled mirrors and a built-in cigar humidor. He would not name a price. But he said: ''It's got a lot of character. We hope to find a good home for it.''

ZippyTheChimp
January 19th, 2006, 12:17 PM
Thanks for digging that out, Shadenfrau.

I found a rambling diary with a glimpse of life in Tribeca during the 1970s.
http://www.roloff.freeservers.com/photo5.html

Many of the great bars are gone, a few notable exceptions like Puffy's, correctly described in the link as something Hopper would have painted.

Ninjahedge
January 19th, 2006, 02:03 PM
Meanwhile, the bar and other accouterments have been salvaged by Evan Blum of Irreplaceable Artifacts, 14 Second Avenue, at Houston Street.

Sentiment aside, Mr. Blum noted the bar's unusual features - mahogany throughout, a ''graceful'' swan's-neck shape and custom equipment built in to fit the curves, a pair of carved caryatids, beveled mirrors and a built-in cigar humidor. He would not name a price. But he said: ''It's got a lot of character. We hope to find a good home for it.

I wonder if it is still there......


Oh, as for the greatest bars, the ones that are there are subject to the will, and greed, of the owner of the property.

Blind Tiger was kicked out the end of last year. Word is they are putting in a boutique of some sort.

Great. Soho expands.

ZippyTheChimp
January 19th, 2006, 11:02 PM
Suerkens site, now a bunch of mini-stores.
http://img466.imageshack.us/img466/5805/suerkens01n3is.th.jpg (http://img466.imageshack.us/my.php?image=suerkens01n3is.jpg)

Puffy's Tavern, on Harrison & Hudson Sts.
http://img229.imageshack.us/img229/2807/puffy01n4kr.th.jpg (http://img229.imageshack.us/my.php?image=puffy01n4kr.jpg)

Ninjahedge
January 20th, 2006, 08:42 AM
Zip, you sure that is what they were converted into first?

I can't see a property owner selling out to small shops like that.

Unless, of course, they were prohibitionists (or the like).....



Those little stores look like crap.

ZippyTheChimp
January 20th, 2006, 09:09 AM
What you see was the general configuration in the late 80s. The only "large" store was the corner. Some of the others were newsstand size.

You have to keep the time frame in mind. The stock market tanked in 1987, and the real estate boom of the mid 80s ended soon after. It took almost a decade for prices to recover.

Evidently, the owner could get more rent by chopping the property into small parcels. Ironically, a Suerkens on that corner would be a gold mine today. I have to believe that those little stores are threatened. A block long building just to the north was renovated into apartments.

Ninjahedge
January 20th, 2006, 09:43 AM
That's the hard part. When a building owner does not take any genuine interest in the people he is leasing to.

This is greed rearing its ugly head yet again.....

Werner
January 6th, 2009, 06:19 PM
Greetings from Germany...


My great grandaunt and her husband owned Suerken's Restaurant in the first decades of the 20th century. Her Name was Gertrud Suerken, she returned to Germany in the sixties(?) after the death of her husband.
Another relative of my family had also a bar or something like that in Manhattan. In our family he was called "Uncle Charlie" probably his real name was Karl.
His family name was Rose, Suerken or Muellmann, i am not sure.

If somebody likes to have
information contact me.

stache
January 6th, 2009, 06:33 PM
By any chance would he have named his bar 'Uncle Charlie's'?

scumonkey
January 6th, 2009, 07:31 PM
http://www.clicksmilies.com/s1106/grinser/grinning-smiley-010.gif
your too funny!

ZippyTheChimp
January 6th, 2009, 08:10 PM
Greetings from Germany...

My great grandaunt and her husband owned Suerken's Restaurant in the first decades of the 20th century.I can't remember the exact date, but there was a sign out front stating established 1880's. Did your family start the business, or buy it?

Have any photos?

Werner
January 7th, 2009, 06:16 AM
If it has been established in 1880, they probably hadn't start it. Maybe he bought and renamed it.
I'm going to ask my granduncle, he probably knows.
Yes, my parents have a few old photos, not long ago I used the old labeled dinnerware.