Minetta Tavern

New York, New York | C.1937

Photo Credit: Accidentally Wes Anderson

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Frequented by wayward bohemians, eccentric writers, and struggling artists, in its heyday, the Minetta Tavern was renowned as a literary watering hole. Established in the years following Prohibition, the Tavern quickly became a hotspot to enjoy a spirit in public, along with a dash of camaraderie. Many luminaries of the written word enjoyed a beverage or several from its barstools, and now adorn the Tavern’s walls, captured both in caricature and in the storied lives they left behind.

Opened in 1937, the Tavern counted E.E. Cummings, Ezra Pound, and Ernest Hemingway among its earliest customers. As New York’s literary community blossomed, the Tavern’s modest pricing attracted all sorts of writersfrom the established to the unknownincluding a group of Beat-era poets who called themselves “The Ravens,” (after Edgar Allen Poe’s infamous poem), and published poetry in a periodical known as The Raven Anthology Journal

Among its members, perhaps the most famousand most controversialwas Joseph Gould, a Harvard graduate and self-proclaimed bohemian who made his home wherever he was in the moment. Said moment could be crashing a poetry reading or lingering at a pub, like the Minetta Tavern. He allegedly frequented the Tavern with such regularity that he began taking his mail there. Lest he or his core belief system go unrecognized, he would carry with him a sign that read: “Joseph Ferdinand Gould, Hot Shot Poet from Poetville, a Refugee from The Ravens. Poets of the World Unite. You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Brains.”

In the years since serving as a bastion of the Beat Generation, the Tavern has been repurposed and transformed into an upscale French bistro known for culinary fare rather than the raucous literary crowd of years past. Now owned by Keith McNally, the Tavern’s interiors have been restored to their original 1930s splendor and offers patrons a peak into what it would have been like to eat (or, more likely, to drink) there beside Hemingwayas he sipped whiskey and shared war stories, briefly pausing to indulge his more sensitive counterparts, who preferred to reflect on the society over metered verse.

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