Battery Park is home to the city’s oldest and most historic bars and restaurants. The neighborhood played host to much of the American Revolution as well as the formation of New York City, so politicians and soldiers needed places to commiserate and negotiate. Step out of Wagner Battery Park and test your knowledge (and tolerance) with a historic bar crawl.
Start your morning with a whiskey at Fraunces Tavern, a museum and bar that’s been in operation since 1762. The space, located at 54 Pearl Street, features over 200 whiskey variations as well as 30 craft beers and ciders. The building is a major part of American Revolution history, where it served as the headquarters for George Washington and was the chosen venue of peace negotiations with the British. It’s also arguably the oldest surviving building in all of Manhattan.
For a midday spritz head to the Bridge Cafe on the corner of Dover Street just below the Brooklyn Bridge. The building dates back to 1794 and features New York’s oldest wood frame. The site was originally home to a “grocery, wine and porter bottler” and since then has hosted a series of drinking, eating and even some lowbrow establishments. Henry Williams operated a brothel there from 1847 to 1860, where the prostitutes were listed in the New York City census of 1855. In 1888, the building’s exterior was altered to its present form.
Every bar crawl needs food. So make your way to Beaver Street and grab a quick bite at Delmonico’s, the eponymous eatery opened by the Delmonico brothers in 1837. Before then, New York City lacked a proper restaurant. The entire city was just cafes and inns where diners had little control over what they were served. Delmonico’s was set up as New York’s first a la carte restaurant. It favored French cuisine, featured cloth-covered tables and a printed menu designed by the city’s first celebrity chef, Charles Ranhofer.
If you can still stand by now, end your day with a beer at the White Horse Tavern on nearby Bridge Street, one of the oldest blocks in New York dating back to the original 17th century Dutch settlement. The story goes that the Dutch loved beer, and the Dutch West India Company built a brewery at that very location to supply the little town of New Amsterdam its favorite beverage. Steps away, a fur trader, Philip Geraerdy became the first private tavern owner in the new world, opening the Wooden Horse Tavern in 1641. Named after a torture device of the era, the tavern’s name provoked controversy, so Geraerdy changed it to the White Horse Tavern. The current building dates to the 19th century and has been home to cotton dealers, commission merchants and even a bag factory. It wasn’t until the repeal of prohibition in 1933 that a pub was reborn in this space