Friday, May 27, 2016

Why not Neir's?

From the NY Times:

For most of its history, Neir’s notoriety was largely limited to the working class of Woodhaven. It is a friendly den of chatter, where neighbors are regulars, and camaraderie is enjoyed over cold pints of beer. On the outside, nestled on a quiet corner of a residential neighborhood, the place looks more like an aging two-floor townhouse than a tavern.

Daniel Goderich tends bar during a gathering of supporters for the tavern’s landmark status. Credit Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
But longtime patrons say that Neir’s does not get the recognition it deserves. Now they are campaigning for the tavern to be declared a New York City landmark because, they note, some historians believe that it is, in fact, the city’s oldest bar.

Neir’s, its patrons say, deserves the historical status of McSorley’s Old Ale House, which, its manager argues, is the oldest in operation, having served customers since 1854, and Fraunces Tavern, from 1762, which burned down and was rebuilt several times.

In 1829, when Queens was mostly farmland — and livestock, not the J train, rumbled down what became Jamaica Avenue — the manager of a racetrack called the Union Course opened a nearby tavern, the Blue Pump Room. It offered a drink to bettors before and after the races, years before McSorley’s served its first light or dark ale in Manhattan.

Over time, the Blue Pump Room went by different names — The Old Abbey, The Union Course Tavern, and finally, Neir’s Tavern — and had different owners, including the Neir family, who had immigrated to Woodhaven from Germany, the current owners say. The family bought the bar after the racetrack closed in 1898, and added a one-lane bowling alley, a ballroom and a hotel over the tavern. It was renamed “Neir’s Social Hall,” and a sign with that name is on display by a stage in the back room.

So, on a recent Saturday, a rally was held to try to win landmark designation for Neir’s. Standing in front of a cutout of Mae West, Mr. Gordon urged patrons to fill out postcards he had addressed to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. The commission rejected the bar’s application last year.

When Mr. Gordon applied for the designation last August, he cited Neir’s history and interior decorations, including its artifacts and antiquated ice-coil tap system. The tavern needed protection, he said, even if the commission could not prevent someone from buying it.

But the commission, a spokeswoman said, did not believe the bar rose “to the level of an interior landmark” because it “contains standard commercial finishes,’’ making it difficult, without proper documentation, to prove the tavern’s age.


Anonymous said...

If this place was a success they wouldn't be looking for landmark status.

Did they try making a beach? Did they try catering to metrosexuals and hipsters?

Bad investment by the NYFD guy. He should make it a FD bar. That might get the crowds in.

Anonymous said...

It is a success. The owner is a preservationist and is trying to save a piece of history. The areas in that section of Queens and Brooklyn are quite historic but nothing has been landmarked . Also, if Neirs does get landmarked, the owner will have to maintain it as such...that could be quite expensive.

Anonymous said...

Look at the neighborhood in 2016, how many people are walking down to have a drink and chat the pulse of the neighborhood.
What you have now stays home and drinks, they also don't give a shit.
Hipsters in Ridewood wont go because its a bitch to and back without a car.
(NYC needs $$ and nobody wants a DUI). For an American citizen with a drivers license & active insurence a DUI cost over $25,000 when you add the 10 years of insane $$ high risk pool insurance)
-More for a DWI

Jackson Heights Johnny said...

Sometimes, not always, but sometimes, a building such as this, even if it does not meet ALL the criteria necessary to meet the LPC's guidelines, could, and should be granted landmark status....

WHY? Well, IMHO, here's my argument - history is being forgotten on all fronts: geographically, militarily, nationally and LOCALLY. Todays young people know nothing of the past, and most don't care. But some do (especially us "older folks"), and whenever a city, a borough, and even a neighborhood has the opportunity to look at something and say: "Hey, this place has been here a LONG TIME. It may not be a landmark, but it is a part of our neighborhood history. Let's just honor it for that."

Anonymous said...

working class history is still part of nyc history

Anonymous said...

How about our 'next mayor' coming to bat for something more than the library or developers or clueless hipshits to whose ultimate use is to pay off construction loans.

Does everyone remember the Elks Building. Quietly looked at the LPC and rejected when someone slipped it to them on the side prepping it for demo.

And the community rose up in anger to save it and as a consequence the building was back on the table?

And Team Van Bramer showed up to corral a few community 'leaders' so everyone can discuss the 'rules' but in essence took the wind out of the community's sales. And mysteriously the commission moved it back once the local pol was in control again.

So where is Jimmy? Demanding hearings on the LPC? Shepherding the legislation he recklessly promised the community?

Or voting to close community centers like the library in Brooklyn?

The LPC should be overturned. It is being enforced in a discriminatory and capricious manner.

The are tons of bars in Manhattan with altered interiors and exteriors. The only criterion on landmark is the whim of your councilman.

Anonymous said...

WHY? Well, IMHO, here's my argument - history is being forgotten on all fronts: geographically, militarily, nationally and LOCALLY. Todays young people know nothing of the past, and most don't care. But some do (especially us "older folks"), and whenever a city, a borough, and even a neighborhood has the opportunity to look at something and say: "Hey, this place has been here a LONG TIME. It may not be a landmark, but it is a part of our neighborhood history. Let's just honor it for that.


Anonymous said...

London is almost 1/3 public park, has limited skyscrapers and spreads them out, and - according to author Bill Bryson - is dead set against a third runway at Heathrow.

NYC just ripped apart Brookville Park for a runway extension and has almost no outer borough preservation of any kind. Neir's and all of Richmond Hill/Woodhaven's old, beautiful homes should have been preserved years ago.

(And not just because Deniro filmed some of his most famous scenes there)

Anonymous said...

Non new yorkers telling us what is or isn't historic. Tell them the first black jockey in queens frequented the join,instant status.

Anonymous said...

To me historic is the Crazy Lucky Golden Horse Spa in Flooshing.

JQ LLC said...

The city is not going to give Neir's shit. The current crop of officials sitting on their balls and hymens in LDC and of course the sociopaths in city hall don't give a shit about the history of this city and are only concerned of, let's say remixing it so it has a modern homogenized sheen but with a minute trace of the old to give it authenticity so it can get ostentatious value for land and property speculation.

Besides, and everyone in that area should be wary and cognizant of, the genesis of Mayor Big Slow Don Blasio's affordable housing scheme in East New York is just a scant few miles from Neir's. Once the materials and I assume modular units start getting trucked in and the first shovels of dirt from the mayor and his agents of the city dig in from that first photo op, it's certain that Neir's will suddenly get a 200 % spike in rent like every other long-time establishment in Manhattan as well as the triboro area in the past 10 years of the speculative land market rate pandemic and gentrification pestilence.

Anonymous said...

Look the first thing needed is to get after Queens Historical, Queens Civic Congress, Mitchel Gruber and his committee, that borough historian, your elected - especially on city council, and the borough president.

This is what they do in Manhattan, Brooklyn, you name any place that has nice communities. Government is not a spectator sport. Stop acting like grumpy adolescents and start to take some responsibility for making things happen.

Anonymous said...

Crazy Lucky Golden Horse Spa in Flooshing - where the customer comes first!
Now that's a historical fact.

JQ LLC said...

"Stop acting like grumpy adolescents and start to take some responsibility for making things happen."

You realize that these grumpy adolescents are the people that work and run the establishment, going through the proper channels and are still getting stonewalled. Another example of grumpy adolescence are the community board and it's residents refusing to include superfluous bike lanes on Queens Blvd only to have their voices and suggestions shut down and shitted on with Agent Big Slow dictating that those lanes shall be painted on mp matter what. Using the rubric of his Nothing Vision program to justify his demands.

Damn right we're grumpy.

Jerry Rotondi said...

Very little gets the recognition it deserves in Queens. Manhattan hogs it all. We are seen by our many crooked politicians as a backward borough of farmers , good only to harvest votes for machine candidates. It's our fault, voters. Electing developer owned politicians, like Councilman Paul Vallone ,is a prime example of voter ignorance.

Joe said...

The bar owner doesn't own the building ?
That's usually doom, it also seems the new owners refinished the bar with modern varathane or polyurethane and thats a HUGE no no.
Like the old 1920 houses in Ridgewood & Bushwick people have fucked up over the years you need to strip the bling, latex and whatever other crap and go back to Shellac & spar varnish for the authentic look, smell and longevity.
For bars, doors staircases usually 2 coats of shellac, sand between each coat with 220 grit black sandpaper, then 3 coats of spar varnish with china hair brush, after it drys sand with 000 steel wool. repeating between coats. Its a very dirty and pain in the ass time consuming process.

Liman said...

My family has adopted this place... it's not trying to look old, it IS old. Very old. Refreshingly unstylish. There's not much in the way of modern amenities. But there's a spirit to this place. Hats off to Loycent Gordon for taking this burden on for himself. His staff gets it, too. At the event in the story, several children spoke about local history and how Nier's is the last link to a past when that neighborhood was actually world famous. How many times do hear children excited about history! This joint will do that to you. So even if it doesn't get landmarked, go check it out. Soak up some living history. Watch a game. Have a beer. And they have an outstanding hamburger.