One of the exhibits created by students in the Creating Digital History course:
by Kerry Bridget Heimer
McSorley’s Old Ale House is a small, two-room tavern located in the East Village of Manhattan. McSorley’s proudly boasts of being the “oldest continuously operated saloon” in New York City, despite some conflicts regarding the year in which it’s doors opened. For all intents and purposes, the widely accepted year of establishment is 1854, which was claimed and ardently defended by Irish immigrant John McSorley, the saloon’s founder and namesake.
Originally known as “The Old House At Home,” its popularity among the working men of the city was immediately apparent. As a gathering place that only admitted male patrons (for the first 116 years), McSorley’s has seen the likes of an internationally renowned magician, authors, artists, and United States Presidents walk through its door to enjoy the famous ale.
McSorley’s has survived and thrived for more than a century and a half despite facing such odds as a thirteen-year period of Prohibition and a Supreme Court controversy that generated national attention. Provided here is a brief history of McSorley’s Old Ale House, the families that have kept it running, the customers and traditions that have given it life, and the artistic representations that have fostered its legacy.