From defunct dive bars to reincarnated cafes, follow the footsteps of the Beat writer through the Big Apple.
I settled down to long sweet sleeps, day-long meditations in the house, writing, and long walks around beloved old Manhattan a half hour subway ride away. I roamed the streets, the bridges, Times Square, cafeterias, the waterfront, I looked up all my poet beatnik friends and roamed with them, I had love affairs with girls in the Village, I did everything with that great mad joy you get when you return to New York City.
– Jack Kerouac, Lonesome Traveler
When I ask the barkeep about Kerouac, he quietly searches his memory but can’t tell me anything for sure. But I have only two choices, he says: light ale or dark ale. Later he comes to find me sitting at a table in back, a book of poetry in hand that appears to document a bartenders’ log going back to the beginning which, in McSorley’s case, was before anyone was currently living was born, as the menu points out. The bartender brings my attention to an excerpt in the book, a log from 1958: “guy who wrote On the Road here with Sorrentino Blackburn and the writer bunch say its a good read.” I tell him that’s fantastic and he says, “I think so, but I’m biased. I wrote it.” Sure enough, his photo is on the back. He’s worked at and lived above the pub since the early ‘70s, when he started the writing program at City College. Needless to say, if you want some history with your light or dark ale, ask for Geoffrey Bartholomew.