Woodhave’s legendary Neir’s Tavern, which opened in 1829 during Andrew Jackson’s first term as president, is gearing up for its 190th anniversary at 87-48 78th Street. The community will celebrate with a huge block party on Saturday, Oct. 5, from noon to 6 p.m.
“This party is a reminder to all that Neir’s is still a community gathering spot for those who believe in the value of supporting historic community businesses,” Neir’s Tavern Owner Loy Gordon said. “Without people actually coming in, instead of putting it on their to-do list, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Neir’s is the oldest pub to operate continuously in the same location in the United States. Other time-honored establishments such as Manhattan’s Fraunces Tavern and McSorley’s Old Ale House and the White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island, moved or closed down temporarily in the past. The Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation is sponsoring and organizing the all-volunteer Neir’s 190 Committee which will throw the six-hour celebration featuring a bouncy castle, street games, raffles, speeches by elected officials and surprises from the Fraunces Tavern Museum, a Manhattan-based nonprofit that promotes understanding of the past. The Queens Historical Society will present a commemorative plaque.
“After 10 years as owner, I attribute the continued existence of Neir’s to our customer crusaders,” Gordon said. “Customers such as the all volunteer Neir’s 190 Committee members who believe and campaign for us because they, like me, believe Neir’s Tavern is a worthy cause.”
Gordon, an immigrant from Jamaica who is an FDNY lieutenant, and some friends purchased Neir’s Tavern in 2009 just as it was about to go out of business. Those who attend the Oct. 5 celebration will find a restore mahogany bar that was installed when Ulysses S. Grant was president and they’ll marvel at photos depicting scenes from the films “Goodfellas” and “Tower Heist” that were shot at the saloon.
Visitors can also view images of Mae West who is said to have made her first professional appearances there in the 1920s when she lived a few blocks away on 88th Street off of 89th Avenue.
“In my heart I dedicate this 190th milestone to William Burlingame, a World War II veteran who got married at Neir’s Tavern over 70 years ago, immediately after WWII,” Gordon said. “He recently passed away. Although I love ‘Goodfellas’ like anyone else, it’s the regular supporters and their stories, like Bill, I remember the most.”
The block party will take place on 88th Avenue between 78th Street and 77th Street, right in front of Neir’s Tavern.