Everyone knows many of the city’s oldest taverns: McSorley’s, Fraunces, The White Horse…but few visitors may know the Ear Inn. Erected in the late 18th Century by James Brown (no, not that one), an aide to Washington during the revolution, the house now has landmark status, and is one of the few remaining examples of Federal architecture in the city.
Through the years it’s alternately been a haven for thirsty sailors, a boarding house, a speakeasy during the days of Prohibition, a smuggler’s den and a brothel. Women (clearly other than ladies of the night) were not allowed for decades.
Flash forward to 1977: the new resident-owners christened the place the “Ear Inn”. That strange name? It was chosen to bypass the Landmark Commission’s lengthy review of any new sign. (Bureaucracy is still alive and well, thankyouverymuch.) To skip the red tape, the neon “BAR” sign was simply painted over to read “EAR”.
Now, surrounded by dusty tchotchkes, you can swill a pint or sip a whiskey or a glass of wine. Then tuck into a full, reasonably priced menu–burgers, mussels, Caesar salad, chili, steaks and the like. The fun part? Your neighbor chowing down may be a biker, a teamster, a doctor or an artist or…who knows?
Plus you can hear music on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday from midnight on. (Or as the website says, 11:59.) You can find traditional blues, jazz and, my personal fave, “weirdo country music”.
Check it out!
The Ear Inn – 326 Spring St. NY, NY (212 226-9060)