The Greenwich Village Literary Pubcrawl

Greenwich Village is one of the most unique communities in New York City. Located in Manhattan, it has served as a center for artists, writers, musicians and actors for well over a century. That means Greenwich has been a cornerstone of NYC’s cultural scene for a long time—and that means there are some great stories to be told about some of the greatest storytellers to live there. The established watering holes of the Village have layers upon layers of lore about just about everyone. The Greenwich Village Literary Pubcrawl, the Village’s oldest walking tour, helps unearth those tales.

9. The Tour

The Greenwich Village Literary Pubcrawl was founded in 1998, making it the oldest walking tour in the neighborhood. Originally founded by a small theater company as a way to help finance their productions, the tour today is primarily about illuminating the history of Greenwich Village and the artistic greats that have lived—and drank—in the bounds of the Village. The tour attracts a small number of people, usually literary aficionados like myself. Our group was about five people and our knowledgeable guides led us through three of the taverns, several landmarks, numerous stories and many of the winding Village streets on a sunny Saturday afternoon in September. We met on the corner of Hudson Street and 11th Street, just outside the White Horse Tavern, our first stop.

stockelements / Shutterstock.com
stockelements / Shutterstock.com

8. The White Horse Tavern

Our first stop on the tour was the White Horse Tavern, which is quite possibly the oldest pub still in operation in Greenwich Village. In fact, only one bar in the whole of NYC is older than this establishment. The White Horse has long been a favorite haunt for writerly types, including famed 20th-century poet Dylan Thomas, a Welshman who made many tours of the U.S. The business is still cash-only and the building belies its age, with its tiny bathrooms clearly speaking to a bygone era. We met up at this cozy location, where the servers know the Pubcrawl staff by name and also enjoy listening to them recount the lore surrounding the pub—and even do a couple of dramatic poetry readings.

Photo by: White Horse Tavern via Facebook
Photo by: White Horse Tavern via Facebook

7. The White Horse and Dylan Thomas

Although the White Horse has been around for a long time and has had a reputation for many writers, the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas is perhaps the man most associated with the tavern. That’s because Thomas reportedly drank himself “to death” in the bar. Rumor has it that after 18 whiskeys, Thomas stumbled back to his hotel room and passed out. Accounts vary on whether or not Thomas simply never woke up again or went back to the bar upon rising, but the fact of the matter is that he died soon after his bender, in the nearby St. Vincent’s hospital, allegedly of an “insult to the brain.” The White Horse still pays tribute to Thomas, whose most famous poem is “Do not go gentle into that good night.” Some say Thomas’ ghost still inhabits the tavern.

Photo by: White Horse Tavern via Facebook
Photo by: White Horse Tavern via Facebook

6. Kettle of Fish

We took a bit of a winding path to arrive at our next pub. That was fine, since the path was sprinkled with literary landmarks and tales of the kind of Bohemian debauchery that can only happen in a place like the Village. Arriving at Kettle of Fish, we knew there were some more stories to be told. This bar has its own winding history—one that starts on McDougall Street and hops around to two or three other locations, before finally landing in the former home of another bar, the Lion’s Head. Lion’s Head, owned by a former NYPD officer, became a literary hangout in its own right, even though Kettle of Fish had been doing the same thing years before. When Lion’s Head closed down in the late 1990s, it was only right that another hub for writers took its place on the Greenwich bar scene.

Photo by: The Odyssey Online
Photo by: The Odyssey Online

5. Kettle of Fish and Jack Kerouac

Before moving to its current home, Kettle of Fish was a hangout for literary types; in the 1950s, it was a hub for the Beatniks, including the likes of Allen Ginsburg and Jack Kerouac. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as Kettle of Fish was located in a sort of rough place, one of the tales involves the On the Road author getting himself into a bar fight. Kerouac had played football during his academic career, so he was a fairly imposing fellow, but he picked a fight with two guys who happened to be piano movers. Kerouac was smart enough to bring back up—but unfortunately, he brought a poet as his wing man. Allegedly, the fight ended with the poet, Gregory Corso, yelling, “Oh my God, stop, you’re going to kill him!

Photo by: Pop Spots NYC
Photo by: Pop Spots NYC

4. Chimney’s

The Greenwich Village Literary Pub Crawl originally had more stops, but since the tour was founded in 1998, many establishments have folded. One of the bars that hasn’t gone under is Chumley’s, although the bar has been closed for renovation since a 2007 restoration accident caused the chimney to fall in. We spent a good while standing outside of Chumley’s nonetheless—and for good reason. The bar has a storied history: it opened in 1922, during the Prohibition era, and quickly became a gathering place. The bar was a hub for both the political and artistic communities; lawyers and authors would rub elbows here, and, as the bar was operated by a socialist activist, the politically minded were also welcome. Chumley’s remained relevant to the literary scene in Greenwich Village into the mid-20th century and beyond.

Photo by: Matthew McDermott via New York Post
Photo by: Matthew McDermott via New York Post

3. Chumley’s and NYC Slang

Given that Chumley’s has such a long history, you can bet that there are some great stories associated with this place. Although it remains to be seen what the bar looks like when it re-opens after renovation, one of the defining features before closure was that the jackets of books were pinned to the walls—books that local authors had allegedly worked on at the bar. Writers who are known to have frequented Chumley’s include William Faulkner, Edna St. Vincent Millay, e.e. Cummings, Eugene O’Neill and John Steinbeck. Chumley’s is mentioned in an episode of Mad Men and an episode of Sherlock. Not only that, but Chumley’s added to NYC slang: during Prohibition, the cops would give advance notice about raids and have patrons “86 it”—use the front door, rather than the building’s underground tunnels.

Photo by: Thomas Hinton via New York Post
Photo by: Thomas Hinton via New York Post

2. Marie’s Crisis

Marie’s Crisis isn’t much to look at, but as the locals know, this is one of the best places to be. A bar has stood in this same spot for a long time; the first one was opened by a woman named Marie Dumont, shortly after the Revolution. Later on, the property and the watering hole changed hands, eventually becoming Marie’s Crisis today. The bar is well-known today for its pianist, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the American Songbook. This makes it a popular hangout for members of Broadway choruses, who often head down to the bar to partake of a drink and practice the solos they dream of someday singing on the Broadway stage. Marie’s Crisis also has a long literary history. One writer in particular, however, is known to have both drank and done some very important writing in the very place the bar stands.

Photo by: Glenn Wood via Time Out
Photo by: Glenn Wood via Time Out

1.  Marie’s Crisis and Thomas Paine

Marie’s Crisis is named for Marie Dumont, who opened the first bar on the property, and for the first pamphlet that Thomas Paine wrote in the series known as the “Crisis Papers.” Paine’s Common Sense had been very popular in colonial America. But now, in the midst of the revolutionary war, the troops were demoralized by cold winter weather, inadequate clothing and a lack of food and supplies. George Washington knew he needed to inspire them—so he asked Paine to pen a little something. Paine began working on a series of 16 pamphlets, titled The American Crisis, which were published between 1777 and 1783. The first volume, penned in what is now Marie’s Crisis, begins with the famous words “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

Photo by: William C Lopez via New York Post
Photo by: William C Lopez via New York Post

The 7 Best Urban Parks in America

When you hear ‘urban park’ and ‘America’ in the same sentence, one immediately thinks of Central Park in NYC, but it may surprise you to learn that all over America there are incredible urban parks. Parks play a key role in making a city desirable for both visitors and locals and it explains why cities are investing more and more money into them. From trapeze lessons on Governor’s Island to the impressive San Diego Zoo located in Balboa Park to parks that host awesome parties and festivals, here are seven urban parks that make these cities even more attractive to both live and visit.

7. Grant Park, Chicago

It is refereed to as Chicago’s “Front Yard”, a 319-acre public park that includes many notable features including Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago and Buckingham Fountain. As well this park happens to be the site of three world-class museums, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, performance venues, gardens and sculptures. The beautiful lakefront recreation center, Maggie Daley Park opened in 2014 as well as the ice skating ribbon, a skating experience unlike any other that winds its way through a rolling landscape with a city skyline as a backdrop. It is also home to the famous shiny reflective bean shaped sculpture that has become both a city icon and popular photo-op.

grant park

6. Schenley Park, Pittsburgh

This beautiful park is worth a visit anytime of the year, but especially in the summertime where free movies play on Flagstaff Hill, or during the fall where the leaves turn brilliant shades of yellow, orange and red. There are enough sports for everyone here, from the 13 tennis courts to the soccer field to the running track, high-jump area to the 18-hole Frisbee golf course. Visitors can also choose to take it slow, wander through the Phipps Conservatory and gaze at the rare miniature orchids or the primitive tree ferns. The free Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix also takes place here during July and 150 sports cars navigate 23 turns around the parks Paddock Drive, while some 200,000 visitors cheer them on.

Joshua Haviv / Shutterstock.com
Joshua Haviv / Shutterstock.com

5. Balboa Park, San Diego

Sitting at just over 1,200 acres, this stunning park packs in more attractions than you could possibly visit in just one day, including the Tony Award-winning Old Glove theatre. It is here where visitors will find the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Museum of Art, numerous hiking and biking trails, a handful of playgrounds and more. There are a ton of restaurants to choose from here including tea pavilions, cafes, grills and pubs. Overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean and including buildings so stunning they have been used in movies and television shows, consider yourself lucky if you happen to have this incredible urban park as your backyard.

Balboa Park, San Diego

4. Encanto Park, Phoenix

This 222-acre oasis lies just a few blocks from the busy central corridor and features awesome picnic areas, a lagoon, boat house, swimming pool and more. Rent a paddle boat or canoe and enjoy the lagoon along with the opportunity for fishing and observing ducks. One of the best attractions here is the Enchanted Island Amusement Park, a park that features a ton of rides and activities for the whole family. There are a ton of free things to do as well here such as rollerblading along the paved trails, getting in a good workout at the exercise field, check out Art in Park or toss a Frisbee around in one of many green spaces.

Encanto Park, Phoenix

3. Discovery Green Park, Houston

This downtown paradise was made when the city decided to tear up numerous concrete parking lots and turn this otherwise unattractive part of the city into Discovery Green Park. This 12-acre park features awesome amenities such as a man-made lawn, 12-foot high arcing water jets, rolling green lawns and fine dining restaurants. Throughout the year numerous wacky competitions take place here, along with the dog jumping competitions and free classes. During the winter an amazing ice skating rink is open to the public as well as a field of lights, an awe-inspiring art installation that shines against the dark sky. Playgrounds, stages, trails, art installations, gardens, reading rooms and other awesome surprises await visitors at this awesome urban park.

goodcat / Shutterstock.com
goodcat / Shutterstock.com

2. Governors Island, New York City

This former military base off the tip of lower Manhattan has been turned into an amazing urban park, offering visitors and locals of NYC a second choice in awesome parks. It is here where you will find electric arts, food events and even a sandy beach to hang out at. Get here by taking the free ferry ride from Manhattan’s Battery Maritime Building or take the Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6, which offers stunning views of the skyline and State of Liberty. Circus nerds will go nuts over the trapeze lessons that are offered on the weekends and music fans unite to rock out to some incredible waterfront concerts. The island is car-free so many choose to rent bikes and cycle around, go on Fridays between May and October and even get your bike for free!

Keith Sherwood / Shutterstock.com
Keith Sherwood / Shutterstock.com

1. City Park, New Orleans

This park is as magical and historical as the city of New Orleans itself, boasting the largest collection of mature live oaks in the world. These sculptural-looking marvels include some that have their branches spread out twice as wide as their height (up to 75ft)! There are way too many things in this park to mention, but some of the most notable include the New Orleans Botanical Garden, Big Lake, Art and Sculpture Garden, City Splash and numerous playgrounds and sports fields. Summertime brings genteel parties complete with mint juleps and performances at the Botanical Gardens and live bands at the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon. Enjoy the 18-hole golf course, the famous antique carousel and the beautiful Couturier Forest.

City Park, New Orleans

Top 10 Cities to Invest in Real Estate in the US for 2014

With the recession growing more distant as each day passes, it’s the perfect time to set your sights on investing in real estate in the United States. Affordable housing, low vacancy rates and low interest rates make this market attractive to all types of investors. Cities are finally experiencing population growth, job growth and expansion of international markets which is making the real estate market finally begin to rise. The time to get into that market is now and here we show you the ten best cities to invest in. Whether you’re buying a vacation home, rental property or a place to call home; these cities can offer up a great place to invest.

1. Houston, Texas

With a booming economy and adequate room for expansion, Houston is number one on our list of top cities to invest in. Being the fourth largest city in the United States and an international business hub; it is the gateway to Latin America. With affordable housing options, low cost of living and high quality of living; this city is begging to be lived in. With its growing population and job growth that will continue into 2015; Houston has ever growing industries. Being named the energy capital of the world with over half of Fortune 500 companies being headquartered in Houston; this city is moving forward and the right time to invest in it is now.

Skyline of Houston, Texas in daytime under blue sky

2. Orlando, Florida

Being one of the hardest hit cities during the recession, Orlando is still struggling to bounce back into the forefront of the market. In saying that; it’s also one of the top cities to grab up real estate right now. With low priced homes along with low interest rates; investors can score big on buying. High rental rates make Orlando more attractive to investors and with a massive tourist industry; rental units are a top investment choice. Along with the tourist industry, Orlando boasts an above average job growth and booming health science industry; both leading to further growth in this sunny destination. With prices on the rise and the country coming out of the recession; we suggest you get in the game now!

Orlando downtown welcome sign with tropical scene

3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

During the recession, Pittsburgh proved to be one of the most resilient cities in the country and that is one of the reasons investing in real estate here is a great choice. With growth in medical, banking and education industries; Pittsburgh is seeing an increase in both in-town and out-of-town investors. Historic low vacancy rates and affordable house prices lets buyers into the market without breaking the bank. With a growing demand in the oil and gas industry, this city is proving to be unstoppable in terms of growth and stability.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

4. Minneapolis, Minnesota

The time to invest in real estate in Minneapolis is now. The strong diverse economy and low housing prices together with the low rental vacancy rates makes this city desirable for all types of investors. Currently out of town investors are snapping up huge chunks of apartment buildings in the core center. Although this means housing is harder to come by than some of the other cities we have mentioned, the value of real estate is quickly rising. Younger generations who don’t want to leave the Midwest are flocking to Minneapolis after graduating. The time is now to buy in this quickly growing market where one can choose to pick a long term investment or “turn and burn” a property to make money.

Morning view of Minneapolis, MN skyline

5. Atlanta, Georgia

More homes were seized in Atlanta than any major metro area in the country according to CoreLogic Inc, which makes this city a buyer’s market. With its usually warm winters, home of a dozen fortune 500 companies including Coca-Cola and Home Depot; Atlanta offers up a great place to invest in real estate. With a cost of living less than half that of Manhattans and a multitude of houses available; this city is the perfect place to grab some real estate. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, there are plenty of opportunities to buy a fixer upper well below the average price of $200,000 for a single dwelling unit.

Downtown Atlanta, Georgia, USA skyline

6. Seattle, Washington

As the economy continues to rebound; this city shows no sign of slowing down. Seattle is filled with not just rainy days but world renowned coffee and massive companies such as Amazon, Boeing and Microsoft. Always being a great city to buy property, Seattle remains true to its origins and is still a top choice to invest in real estate. Young people are flocking to this city to work for giant companies and the city is shifting from suburban to urban and there’s no sign of this city’s growth slowing down. Do yourself a favor and invest in an apartment, house or commercial property. It will be well worth it.

Downtown Seattle as seen from the Kerry park in the evening

7. Raleigh, North Carolina

Affordable cost of living and job growth in stable fields have propelled this city into our top ten list. Raleigh prides itself on being the hub of education and with job stability comes a great market for real estate investment. A low foreclosure rate and strong commercial real estate opportunities will propel Raleigh into a strong future. Real estate investors will feel confident in this city as there is nowhere to go but up.

Skyline of Raleigh, NC

8. Phoenix, Arizona

Sun lovers are scooping up real estate in this now trending city; one of the hardest hit cities when the housing market bubble burst. Bargain prices, plenty of availability and a steady job growth makes Phoenix an attractive place to invest. Top companies such as Walmart and Intel support the job growth and housing market. Investors are choosing secondary markets such as Phoenix over major cities where real estate markets are flooded. Take a page from their book and get your hands on some sun soaked property here, but act quickly; this housing market is only going up. With big banks such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America employing people; this city is bouncing back.

Phoenix Arizona

9. Manhattan, New York

By far the most expensive city to buy real estate in this list, Manhattan nonetheless is an excellent city to invest in –if you can afford it. With thousands of employees coming to work at the World Trade Center; the market is booming, especially in the financial district. Couple that fact with New York’s ever growing population and notoriously trendy “Hipster” neighborhoods; there doesn’t seem to be a bad time to invest in this city when it comes to real estate. You will have to have deep pockets to invest here, but in the long run this Empire State will make it worth your while.

Aerial view of Manhattan skyline at sunset, New York City

10. Dallas, Texas

One of the fastest growing cities; Dallas rounds off our list of top cities in The United States to invest in real estate. With houses priced below 12% of their actual value, it’s a great time to buy in Texas. Constant job growth, the ability to profit from future gas and oil development and home to the third busiest airport in the world; there is no shortage of growth in this city. With the ever growing technology industry taking place in Dallas; this is the place for people looking for long-term economic stability. Invest in real estate here today and in ten years you will wonder why you didn’t invest sooner.

A View of the Skyline of Dallas, Texas, USA