The tavern referenced in Gene Raskin’s song “Those Were the Days,” White Horse Tavern is one of few literary and artistic hubs of Bohemian culture from the 50s and 60s that still remains open to the public in Greenwich Village.
Located at Hudson and 11th Street in Manhattan, the White Horse opened in 1880, but was not known as a literary niche until Dylan Thomas and other Beat Generation writers began spending time there in the early 50s. The place is famous for being Dylan Thomas’s last “watering hole” before falling ill and dying in 1953. On the anniversary of his death, the bar serves the last meal he ate at the White Horse before he died.
Other famous faces that frequented the place include Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac (who was kicked out of the establishment several times), Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlosky and Gregory Corso (the trio was once tossed out after bursting through the front door shouting “Hare Krishna” as they circled around the bar), the Clancy Brothers (who often performed at the tavern), Jim Morrison, Mary Travers, James Baldwin, Seymour Krim, and many others.
The tavern is known for having been a rendezvous spot for activists and labor members, organizers, and socialists from the time. It was also where the idea for the “Village Voice” (a still-existing award-winning weekly newspaper that features investigative articles, analysis of current affairs and culture, arts reviews, and events listings for New York City) was first discussed.