PopSpots - Woody Guthrie at McSorley's Old Ale House, 15 East 7th Street at Third Avennue, the East Village, NY, 1943. Photos by Eric Schaal for a Life Magazine story upon the publication of Woody's 1943 book, Bound for Glory.
McSorley's is a legendary ale house located in New York's East Village.
It opened in 1854 - over 159 years ago. To put that in perspective, that was seven years before the American Civil War started. That's old.
50 years ago it looked like this. Not much has changed.
20 years before that, in 1937, when Berenice Abbot photographed it for Franklin Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression, it looked pretty much the same, too.
Here's another Berenice Abbot view.
So, in 1943, when Life magazine wanted to photograph Woody in an old bar singing songs to workingmen, McSorley's was a natural choice. It was located just north of the notorious skid-row called The Bowery and it was at the edge of the East Village, where Woody would have felt at home with the historically left-leaning populace.
Here he is having one of McSorley's legenday inexpensive beers. The same beer that today makes McSorley's a favorite of the college crowd.
(Woody's guitar has his famous slogan on it: "This Machine Kills Fascists." In today's ever-trendy East Village "This Machine Kills Fashionistas" might be a moreau courant.)
Today, if you walked into McSorley's, it would look something like this.
And, if you conjured up Woody there singing Dust Bowl ballads, like "Pretty Boy Floyd," it might look like this...
And if the seat was free at the table next to the front door...
...you might find yourself with Woody and some Bowery boys.
For most of its life, McSorley's has been known for having years and years of dust clinging to chicken wishbones that adorned the lamps, such as the copper one at the end of the bar on the right. The dust would literally stand over 3 inches tall.
But a recent crackdown on sanitary regulations citywide made made that ancient tradition, as they say, bite the dust. (To see photos of the dust go to Google Images and search for "McSorleys Dust")
Here's a wider shot of the interior to give you the feel of the place.
Here's that last photo - of the front room of McSorley's, a favorite stop for countless thousands of visitors to New York - especially on St. Patrick's Day, without Woody in it. You can CLICK ON THE PICTUE TO ENLARGE THE PHOTO.
And here's a panorama of the back room. (Try the chili.) AND YOU CAN CLICK ON THIS PICTURE TO ENLARGE IT, TOO.
If you look closely on the left side of the panorama of the back room, between the last two men on the left, you can see the 1943 Woody Guthrie picture on McSorley's wall above the mantle.
Here's a final shot of the outside of McSorley's. (That yellow thing on the right that looks a motorcycle is a cab, "squished" by the way I move the camera to make panoramic shots.) YOU CAN CLICK THE PHOTO TO ENLARGE IT.
To get there, the closest subway is the Astor Place subway.
So long, Woody. "It's been good to know ya'."