Subway Inn, a Legendary NYC Dive, May Finally Close


Update, August 20, 2014: "Judge Keeps Subway Inn's Doors Open For Now"


It's a quarter to midnight on a Saturday. It could be Subway Inn's last Saturday night if the bar closes on August 15, as its owners have announced it will. Right now, no one seems particularly concerned by the oversized "Save Subway Inn" poster hanging behind the bar. For their purposes it could be any bar, anywhere.


There are 20-somethings on a double date in the back corner and, beside them, a quartet of burly Latino men draining a beer tower. An anemic-looking white couple is gazing into one another's eyes over the remnants of two $5 beer-and-shot combos. Behind them is a rowdy bachelorette party.


None of them seem to notice when the tail end of a Mets game gives way to the late-night newscast, and a two-minute segment on legendary bar's closure plays on all five TVs. If either of the bartenders is aware of the news story — which was filmed at the bar the night before — neither is letting on. No one turns up the volume. In fact, there's no sound on at all.


For 77 years Subway Inn has been fixture on the Upper East Side, located on 60th Street opposite the Bloomingdale's loading dock and just above the entrance to the 59th Street/Lexington Avenue subway station.


It opened in 1937, and for a while, it was the kind of the place where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio would stop by for a nightcap; the kind of place where, in the early '90s, Julia Roberts could be found slow dancing to a Willie Nelson song with some anonymous old-timer, while Jay McInerney, on assignment for Harper's Bazaar, scribbled notes in the corner.


Today, a film of dust coats the flotsam adorning the bar: the hard hat perched on a neon Coors Light sign; the Godzilla doll with a bra dangling from the crook of its arm; the laminated photo of the bar's founder, Charlie Ackerman. The New York Times once called Ackerman "a puckered, saggy-bottomed crank. Salty as a pickled fish. Warm as a furnace without oil." But, when it came time to give up the bar, he was kind enough to hand the keys over to one of his longtime employees.


That employee, Marcello Salinas, started mopping floors at Subway Inn not long after he immigrated to the United States 40 years ago. Today he is fighting what looks to be an uphill battle to keep the bar's doors open.


In 2006, Ackerman's guardian sold the five-story building to New York-based real estate developer World-Wide Group for $5.8 million. The company now owns most buildings on the block, some 300,000 square feet, and has asked Salinas to vacate.


There has been some talk about relocating, as well as a plan to fight the new owners to stay open, but on Monday, a fundraising campaign had netted less than $700 toward a relatively modest $10,000 goal. (The money would go toward legal fees.)


Without a last-minute miracle, New York City will soon watch as another of its quirky, charming dive bars becomes a memory.
-- Tessa Stuart


All photos by Timothy Fadek for the Village Voice








































































See also: Midtown's Most Beloved Dive Bar, Subway Inn, Is Fighting For Its Life
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24 comments
Geri Berti
Geri Berti

I used to go there in the late '90's after work, great old dive! I hope they save it.

jstmefornow
jstmefornow

I visited Subway for the first time, last month after reading about it ina Long island newspaper. I loved the feel of a neighborhood watering hole, something that will soon be lost in our future

Rick Agcauili
Rick Agcauili

I remember when there were actual bars underneath the streets, as you left, or entered the subway station. O' hi former employer,under Susan Belair!\U0001f44b

David Betak
David Betak

Where are all the billionaires when you need them?

James Oconnell
James Oconnell

it looks like these posers showed up for 15 mins of fame in some of these staged photos...when i drank there it was a shot and beer dive.....people will due anything to jump on a bandwagon

oconnellsting
oconnellsting

it looks like these posers showed up for 15 mins of fame in some of these staged photos...when i drank there it was a shot and beer dive.....people will due anything to jump on a bandwagon


Tom Rinaldi
Tom Rinaldi

A story from a paper that doesn't exist....ironic!

Mike Greenhaus
Mike Greenhaus

Very sad....maybe we should of seen this coming after times square turned into an outdoor mall

John Cavanaugh
John Cavanaugh

They should go all the way and just change the name from NYC to a leased corporate name

Matthew Storey
Matthew Storey

Had some truly horrific drunks there. Will miss it dearly.

cadiotp
cadiotp

Beautiful, human and delicat.

(Paris-France) 

daarny
daarny

These pics are beautiful, and I love driving and walking by and seeing the great sign outside, but this bar sucks, c'mon. It's gross and has about as much atmosphere as a piss soaked elevator in a housing project. Just cause it's old doesn't mean you're not gonna get herpes from the shot glasses. Where is the DOH when you need them? I'd go in once in a while when I'm trying to score some H but I wouldn't want to get the bottoms of my shoes dirty.

kevinkim009
kevinkim009

Seems to be the Norm now a day's New York City's History just being thrown away.  So Sad...  Had some great times and now it seems all I will have are memories. 

danielteolijr
danielteolijr

I enjoyed your photography, thanks for the reportage.

cformusic
cformusic

damn Marathon Day is down a leg

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