The Subway Inn Bar, on 60th and Lexington, is facing closure after being open for seventy-seven years. If the bar is closed, it will be replaced with luxury condos. Please help save this landmark by signing the petition at http://www.change.org/p/kate-daly-save-subway-inn donating at www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-subway-inn or visit their Face Book page for more information.
The first time I was at the Subway Inn Bar, I was there with my dad. I was seventeen, in my senior year of high school, and had just been accepted to Hunter College. Dad and I took the train to the city and went on a tour of Hunter. As neither of my parents had gone to college, this was a big deal. I knew he was proud of me.
On the walk back to Grand Central Station, dad told me that he was going to take me to a special place. “It’s a very important New York City landmark,” he kept telling me, as we walked down Lexington Avenue. I wondered where we were going: the Statue of Liberty? Central Park?
At 60th and Lexington we turned the corner. The neon sign just past the subway entrance simply read: “Bar.” He said, “Here we are.” The outside wall was made of squares of beveled glass. We opened the door and went in to a long, narrow bar, and sat down. Dad ordered a bottle of Budweiser and I had a Coke. He told me that in his days as a construction worker, he would come here. The bar was smoky and dark, with a pay phone in the back and an old juke box. There was a picture of Marilyn Monroe on the wall. My kind of place.
Once I reached the legal drinking age, the Subway Inn Bar became my home away from home. Being a short eight-block walk from the college, it was a convenient place to stop after classes (or sometimes between them). They eventually upgraded the juke box and put some flat screen TVs in, but the friendly neighborhood atmosphere remained the same. While other young New York twenty-somethings might have preferred going to some trendy club, I was happy sipping a beer (or occasional whisky) with the other regulars at the Subway Inn.
When I graduated from Hunter, on a cold and snowy January day, my parents said that to celebrate they would take me out to wherever I wanted to go. After the ceremony, with cap and gown in hand, I said I wanted to go to the Subway Inn. The three of us went there for drinks, and I told my mom the story of the first time dad took me there. I think that dad was proud, not only that I had graduated college, but also because in certain ways I was turning out to be a lot like him.
Shortly after the first time I was there with dad, I started working as a bartender in Putnam County at the same place my dad tended bar on weekends. That bar was rumored to have been frequented by Marilyn Monroe when she was married to Arthur Miller. The Subway Inn Bar keeps a picture of Marilyn up because she used to go there when she was married to Joe DiMaggio. I always felt like there was a connection, because my dad, Marilyn, and myself had all been in the same places.
My dad passed away earlier this summer after a year-long fight with cancer. I took over his old shift at the bar in Putnam County. When I heard that the Subway Inn Bar was facing eviction, I drove down to the city with a friend. As we got to the front door, I turned to him and said, “Honey, I’m home.” Inside, we sat at the same spot where I had sat with my dad, fourteen years earlier, and I told him the story of the first time I had been there. The Subway Inn means more to me than just a place to grab a drink – for me, it means a connection to my past and some wonderful times hanging out with my dad.
Have you spent time at the Subway Inn Bar? What does the Subway Inn mean to you? Feel free to post in the comment section below.