New York City's beloved dive bars that have closed for good
Times Square's iconic dive bar Smith's will shut its doors for good on Thursday.
Smith's closure comes in a bleak year for watering holes: The Upper West Side's Ding Dong Lounge and the East Village's Rodeo Bar both shut their doors in August.
As Smith's closes its doors, we take a look back at a few more of the bars that we knew once in a very different New York.
Times Square is losing another icon of its gritty past. Dive bar Smith's, located at 8th Ave. and 44th St. since 1954, will shut its doors for good on Oct. 30. As Times Square became more and more family-friendly, Smith's remained true to its roots. A sign in the window promised hot sandwiches, and a steamed meat table greeted patrons. Pickpockets ran rampant during the grittier years. And in 1994, an NYPD officer killed himself at a table the day after Christmas. After changing hands in 2009, Smith's became more tourist-friendly, but still maintained its iconic neon sign. But it wasn't enough to save the bar, although the sign's fate still remains unclear. (Credit: Sheila Anne Feeney)
Ding Dong Lounge
Located near Columbia University, the Upper West Side dive the Ding Dong Bar opened in 2001 and became a neighborhood classic. Although included in the Village Voice's Best Dive Bars in 2013 (described as having "not a single television set. The bathrooms are—well, the place has bathrooms") as well as Gothamist's Best Dive Bars, the Ding Dong Lounge announced in July that its last night would be on Thursday, July 31. "The Ding has lost its lease," Ding Dong DJ Linda Rizzo told Vanishing New York. "Victim to landlord greed..." On its website, the bar wrote: "This is not the end of the Ding, as we will be relocating & reopening in the new future." Patrons are advised to check back for the exact location. (Credit: Flickr / efeb)
The last remnant of an East Village come and gone, the Mars Bar hung on for a long, long time. It finally closed in 2011, after quite the struggle, with owner Hank Penza telling The Village Voice that he "got tired." The bar was barely existing in a changed neighborhood, and a visit from the Health Department didn't help things. The building was knocked down, apartments and a TD Bank moved in. But recently it was reported that Penza would be opening something new in the same location, in collaboration with the development company that tore down the original Mars. The irony is thick... (Credit: FLICKR/ Bitch Cakes)
The East Village's beloved dive bar, Rodeo Bar, closed its doors for good on Saturday. The bar, which called itself "New York's longest-running honkey-tonk," said on its website that "recent rent increases, combined with a changing landscape, have made it impossible for us continue." In a message on their Facebook page, the bar wrote "It's our final Rodeo! Tonight live at the Rodeo- Eugene Chrysler at 10pm. No Cover! This is the Final show. We love Y'all!" (Credit: Flickr / edenpictures)
The Lower East Side punk bar opened its doors on Ludlow Street in 1989, and it soon became an artist's haven with patrons such as Johnny Depp and Elliott Smith. But rising rents forced owner Ulli Rimkus to close Max Fish's doors (and legendary bathrooms) in July 2013. But Rimkus told The Lo Down that the bar would come back, and Bowery Boogie reports the bar is set to reopen on August 2 at 120 Orchard Street. (Credit: Flickr / emry)
St. Jerome's at 155 Rivington Street opened in 2006, and counted Lady Gaga as a bartender before she became famous. Described by a former bartender in Vice as a "horrible and fantastic place," St. Jerome's catered to the Lower East Side's underclass. Owner Luc Carl wrote even wrote a book called "The Drunk Diet," with tips on how to eat greasy food and drink all the time (even to cure hangovers) and still lose weight. In October 2012, he sold the bar to East Village nightclub regulars Joshua Yerington and Matt Romano, who turned it into Rivington F+B. (Credit: Google)
Jackie's 5th Amendment
In the days before Park Slope became the home of yuppie parents (Jackie's was rumored to dating back 75 years, according to New York), Jackie's 5th Amendment stayed around far longer than other dive bars in the neighborhood. Maybe it was the bucket of beers for $10 or early-morning Happy Hour, or that the bar tried to secede from Park Slope for good in 2012. But it couldn't outlast the owner's declining health, and Jackie's closed for good in September 2013. "I'm pretty sure I got Hep C. I've been to some pretty dive-y bars but this one really takes the cake," wrote one reviewer on Yelp. Farewell, Jackie's. (Credit: Google)
SoHo will never be the same. Known as a blue-collar bar that was rumored to date back to the 1940s, Milady's also drew its fair share of celebrities and other of Prince Street's more recent transplants (Bruce Springsteen even frequented in the 1990s). But that wasn't enough to keep it in line with SoHo's soaring rents, and the bar closed for good in January 2014. "It's a dive bar," owner Frank Genovese told The New York Times when the bar closed. "I serve burgers; a beer is 5 bucks. I can no longer sustain that formula. It doesn’t work anymore. The egg that once cost me 5 cents now costs 50 cents." (Credit: Flickr / edenpictures)
Located across the street from Bloomingdale's for 77 years, midtown's Subway Inn managed to actually fight eviction and win this year. In July, the bar announced it would close on August 15th, although the owners promised they would not go down without a fight. After weeks of fighting off eviction, the bar's owners announced in October they would close at their current location on Dec. 2, but will reopen just two blocks away in 2015. The bar's owners promised the new location would be "exactly as it is now." (Credit: Flickr / kpaulus)