New Years’ Eve is almost upon us, so what better time to tell a few ghostly yarns involving bars? There are many reportedly haunted bars and taverns in New York City, and many of their stories are well-known by now: The White Horse Tavern, The Bridge Cafe, McSorley’s, and the Ear Inn all have their share of ghosts. But not too many people know about the Landmark Tavern.
Situated in the farthest reaches of Hell’s Kitchen, all the way over at 11th Avenue and 46th Street, the Landmark is an out-of-the-way place with an incredible history.
The bar dates back to 1868, when it was opened as a saloon. After the requisite stint as a speakeasy during Prohibition, it continued in the vein of an old-time bar and restaurant complete with authentic, British-style pub food. A grown-up sort of bar, unpretentious, and redolent with the cool, musty, beery, cellar-like air particular to such establishments. Perhaps, though, that cool air has another source.
There are, according to legend, two ghosts of old still lingering in the Landmark. The first is a young Irish girl who perished of typhoid fever in the 19th century. The fact of subsequent centuries appears to have evaded her, for she still believes she is at home, living out her days on the third floor of 626 11th Avenue. There she is, they say, and there she remains, wandering forlornly up and down the halls.
While the wisp of a girl is slightly tragic and affecting, the boisterous spirit of a murdered Confederate solider is far more active – and entertaining. The solider was either knifed or shot in a bar fight (depending on your sources) and continues to be rowdy to this day. He apparently knocks over books on the shelf in the second-floor party room, startling more than a few staffers and guests. Even more exciting, the actual bathtub in which he died still remains… in that very room! They say he staggered up to it and sat in it to die… perhaps he mistook it for a coffin. You can still see it now, that selfsame bath. Though the looks of it may dissuade you from ever wanting to bathe again.
Last but not least, some say the ghost of Hollywood star George Raft, who patronized the Landmark in life, also haunts the place. But I take that with just a touch of salt. People are always claiming to be haunted by the very famous. It strikes us as just a touch too coincidental. You can’t believe everything you hear, can you?