Image courtesy of Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Bull's Head Tavern, New York City

The rollicking Bull’s Head Tavern, on the Bowery (parts of which have been recently uncovered underground), catered to the butchers and cattle men who worked in the abattoirs on and near Mulberry Street.
This circa-1800 sketch of the tavern and an adjoining pen belonging to a slaughterhouse provides an idea of what Slaughterhouse Street looked like. (What it smelled like, one can only imagine!)

Bert Dunkerly sent the following report:
Recently in New York City, photographer Adam Woodward and historian David Freeland found what they believe are the remnants of famed 18th century saloon the Bull's Head Tavern. The building is currently being razed to make way for a hotel. The Bull's Head was built in the 1750s, and George Washington stayed there during the heyday of the American Revolution. It was here that Washington paused on Evacuation Day, Nov. 25, 1783, to prepare for his entry into New York City. Washington met with Governor George Clinton to plan the army's parade into the liberated city. The building was later expanded, and the older structure incorporated into a large one, and forgotten. At one point in time, the bar was owned by Henry Astor, of the Astor family.After it closed, the space then became home to a massive beer hall and entertainment venue called the Atlantic Garden. One authority noted that this  might be the "oldest partial, surviving structure in Manhattan by almost a half century." No word yet on what will happen to this relic.

The Landmarks Commission notes that they're "aware of the situation," but "cannot require the owner to conduct archaeology." The best they can do is give the owner a list of good archaeologists. Some elected officials are also getting involved, but again must discuss it with the owner first.

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