II. On The Town


Greenwich Village Inn, 5 Sheridan Square. Probably the smartest place in the village but with sufficient atmosphere.

Palais D’Or, Broadway and 49th Street. This institution is the old Palais Royal under new management. The old atmosphere remains, the music and cabaret is up to standard but prices are lower.

Little Hungary, 257 East Houston Street. Out of the beaten track but one of the downtown places that the traveler should not miss, particularly on New Year’s Eve.

— The Rand McNally New York Guide, 1926

Don Dickerman has…produced the Pirates’ Den [at 8 Christopher Street, where] the waiters are disguised as pirates of the 18th century, and except for their mild eyes and blameless mouths are a fearsome looking crowd. They stage scenes from “Treasure Island,” and ship brawls, they fire shots, break into outrageous talk, start old-fashioned disputes and clash cutlasses. The den is dark. It has its wonderful parrot. You drink cider from old mugs and stare at fullbodied sailors in cotton vests and corded breeches and knee boots with hanging leather flaps, at the walls of the smoky cellar hung with maps, toy-ships, fishes’ skeletons, whales’ vertebrae, picks from Cocos Island.…Suddenly there is a squall of thunder and lightning, and the band and its platform raised by pulleys begin to mount to the upper deck. The sound of a ship’s bell breaks through the noise of the mock storm. Voices are heard from various parts of the imaginary ship. “All quiet on the main deck, sir!”…“Forward light burning bright!”…“Prisoners safe in the brig!”

“Good kid stuff, don’t you think?” enquires Dickerman, admiring his own artifice.…

I think of the words of the poet “Come, be a child once more” as invisibly written over the portals of the Pirates’ Den. Not that New York people need the invitation.…

Stephen Graham, New York Nights, 1927

…I knew the other clerks and young bond-salesmen by their first names, and lunched with them in dark, crowded restaurants on little pig sausages and mashed potatoes and coffee…

I took dinner at the Yale Club — for some reason it was the gloomiest event of my day — and then I went upstairs to the library and studied investments and securities for a conscientious hour.…After that, if the night was mellow, I strolled down Madison Avenue past the old Murray Hill Hotel, and over 33d Street to the Pennsylvania Station.

I began to like New York, the racy, adventurous feel of it at night, and the satisfaction that the constant flicker of men and women and machines gives to the restless eye.…At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others — poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner.…

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 1925