If NYC neighborhoods held a reinvention of cool contest, Hudson Square would be, in the words of one famous fellow waterfront denizen, a contender. Tucked away on the lower west side, with Greenwich Village frolicking to its north and Tribeca bustling to its south, Hudson Square makes a case for a more quiet, historic awesomeness.
Case in point, the Ear Inn. The oldest working bar in NYC, this brilliantly unassuming joint will quickly make your list of places to take visitors when you want to show them the real NYC. Why? Because grabbing a beer here feels like playing a walk-on role in the city’s long history.
The Ear Inn is authentic and unusual, from the vaguely tilting floor of its almost 200-year old building (the coincidentally awesomely named James Brown House, est. 1817) to the nautical décor, to the knowledge that when the house was first built, the Hudson River was – literally – a stone’s throw away. (Seriously. Everything from a few feet away on its west is built on landfill.)
And, talk about reinvention of cool – here’s how the place got its name. A bunch of artists scraped together enough money to buy the building back in the mid-70s, when Hudson Square was just another sad, neglected neighborhood. But because of restrictions on changing signage of historic buildings (not to mention, it was probably way cheap), they changed the name of the place from the more generic BAR to EAR, by painting out the curves of the B.
Now THAT’s what the city is all about. And that’s Hudson Square. Quietly, casually holding down the fort for some of the oldest, coolest bits of NYC history.