Poetry Landmark: The White Horse Tavern in New York City
The White Horse Tavern, built in 1880, has been a stomping ground for New York’s literary community since the 1950s when the bar’s most famous patron, the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, was introduced to this longshoreman’s haunt. The White Horse holds the dubious distinction of being the place where Thomas drank his last whiskey. In November of 1953, Thomas beat his own personal record by downing eighteen shots of whiskey. Soon after the last drink he stumbled outside and collapsed on the sidewalk. He was taken to the Chelsea Hotel and there fell into a coma; the next morning he was transferred to St. Vincent’s Hospital where he died. In addition to the many portraits of Dylan Thomas that adorn the walls, a plaque commemorating Thomas’s last visit to the White Horse Tavern hangs above the bar.
The bar soon drew more literary figures as patrons including James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, Anais Nin, and James Laughlin, the founder of the publishing house New Directions. In addition, the bar was a gathering place for both the Beat writers, like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, as well as the New York School poets, such as John Ashbery and Frank O'Hara.
The White Horse Tavern is located at 567 Hudson Street, between West 11th Street and Perry Street in New York’s Greenwich Village. In addition to the requisite libations, the White Horse Tavern also offers a classic pub menu, so poetry pilgrims under twenty-one are welcome to sit down for a meal.