Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Ear Inn

The Ear Inn at 326 Spring Street.

Tomb of General Worth in Madison Square.
I saw the Flatiron Building on 23rd, 5th and Broadway on my way down.
The 1812 Ear Inn building in the 1940s.
The other day, I thought I'd take a walk down to the Ear Inn, a little relic far on the west side of Spring Street, that's been there since 1812. Inside, it's like a little country cottage, a big contrast from the outside surroundings. Like many of these old bars, it's decorated with tributes to the past, a marker that shows that the building used to be right on the shore of the Hudson River before landfill extended the width of Manhattan Island, and inside, among other clutter on the walls, a campaign poster for Wendel Wilkie, who ran for president against FDR in 1940. The building was supposedly built and first owned by a free black man named James Brown (no, of course not that James Brown, and, no, I don't know if they're related), who ran a tavern and tobacco shop. Legend has it that he is the black man shown in the famous painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware, rowing the boat up front.

On the way, I took a little rest by the grave of General Worth, one of only three personal graves in Manhattan. (The other two are in Morningside Hights: General Grant's Tomb, and the small Tomb of the Amiable Child across the street, of a 5-year old who died from a fall there in the 1790s, and whose resting place was always respected through the centuries. By I digress ... that's for a whole other blog.) There are a lot of tables and chairs set up there now, as well as by the Flatiron Building and other squares around the city ... the latest attempt by Mayor Bloomberg to improve New York. I like it, personally ... especially in the Times Square area. Drivers don't like it in general, but as a pedestrian in this city, I'm all for it. It almost makes Times Square worth going to ... almost.

These long walks are always a hoot because I can watch the city gradually change, from the tall office buildings and big tourist crowds in Midtown, to the quainter neighborhoods downtown. Despite their popularity, they're never as crowded as places like Times Square or Madison Square Garden. And I hope it never gets that way down there, because it would completely ruin those places. Anyway, it was getting late, so it was time to start heading home. If you're ever down on Spring St., check out Lombardi's in Little Italy, the first pizza place in the United States, dating back to 1894, and then walk a few blocks west to the Ear Inn. It'll be a very pleasant New York experience.

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