REEL ESTATE: Michael Corleone says hello from the Horseshoe Bar
The Alamo Drafthouse just wrapped up its annual Rolling Roadshow tour, and the last stop they made was in Little Italy for a screening of GODFATHER II on the roof of the New Design High School on Grand Street. Surrounded by graffiti and skateboard ramps, hundreds of movie fans watched three screens showing the classic film simultaneously.
Gowalla had a tour of famous places from the movie in and around NYC, and it just so happened a friend of mine who works as a gaffer in San Francisco came for a visit, so the tour was the perfect excuse to show him some of the little out of the way spots of NYC. The Horseshoe Bar in Alphabet City was one of our first stops.
The Horseshoe Bar located at 108 Avenue B (corner of 7th Street)
The bar is so ancient it actually goes by three names: if you're an old timer, you probably know it as Vazac’s - which was the original name when it opened up as a Polish catering hall in 1935; The Horseshoe Bar is its most common name, referring to the bar that wraps around the room; and 7B after the corner it’s on (Avenue B and 7th Street, respectively). The original sign from the 1930s, that reads “Vasac Hall”, is still visible from the street, and if you look closely the original phone number, “OR4-2568”, can still be seen along the second story wall. The red brick exterior, castle like doors on the corner, and large, multi-panned Tudor windows make The Horseshoe Bar look like an uninviting dive bar, with secrets locked within its walls.
The rough-hewn, dark-wood interior fixtures have embraced patrons for generations, and the pictures on the wall tell an East side history lesson more telling then any travel log ever could. The bar itself is the size of a moat - 32 taps of beer including Smithwick's and Leffe surround the U-shaped bar like some kind of fortified resistance against the inevitable change that continues to march across Manhattan. Some of the older patrons during the day blend into the woodwork, camouflaged by time. Oh, some movies have been shot there as well...
In 1974's The Godfather Part II, actor Danny Aiello makes a small but memorable appearance as the man who nearly strangles the turncoat Pentagelli, uttering the famous line, "Michael Corleone says 'Hello'." Pentagelli is violently dragged across the floor and has nearly expired when suddenly a beat cop walks in unexpectedly, forcing the would be killers to flee which winds up resulting in a dramatic shoot out across the street from Tompkins Park.
The bar has managed to avoid the ever increasing and encroaching gentrification of the East Village, and it is one of the last vestiges where embittered CBGB rock n' rollers and neighborhood lifers alike can take refuge. As long as the rent stays low and the drinks stay cheap, there's no reason to think that the longstanding establishment will be going anywhere anytime soon, so be sure to stop by the next time you visit New York City.
Interesting Fact: In 1986’s Crocodile Dundee, the scene where the fish-out-of-water Australian meets his first real life New York City prostitute is filmed at The Horseshoe Bar.
If you want to contact The Horseshoe Bar, contact (212) 677-6742. Ask for Karen!
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