|The Ear Inn|
|Street address||326 Spring Street|
|City||New York City|
It is one of the few remaining examples of Federal architecture that remains in New York City.
The three-story house was built before 1812 and was originally the home of James Brown, an African-American United States Revolutionary War veteran, who was the proprietor of a tobacco store on the ground floor of the house. It is rumored that Brown is one of the soldiers near the front of the boat in Emanuel Leutze's iconic painting "Washington Crossing the Delaware."
In 1817, a tavern opened in the space, making it one of the oldest bars in New York City. Its proximity to the water made it popular with sailors and longshoremen. It had a brewery that was later turned into a restaurant.
At the time of the building's construction, the house was only several feet from the shoreline of the Hudson River, although subsequent urban development has since filled in land that has increased the distance to the shore.
After Brown sold the building to two apothecaries in the mid 1800s, the house was subsequently purchased in 1890 by an Irish immigrant named Thomas Cloke, who ran the tavern and sold beer and spirits to ships passing through New York harbor. He was reported to be a successful businessman and was well regarded in the community.
Cloke sold the business in 1919 in anticipation of The Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibited the sale of alcohol.
After Prohibition, the bar re-opened, but now existed as a business without a name. It was simply called "The Green Door," and catered to a clientele of waterfront workers, almost all of whom were hard-drinking regulars.
The area declined sharply during the mid Twentieth century, as urban decay turned the once-bustling area into a nearly abandoned district.
In 1969, the building was one of the earliest designations of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.
In the mid 1970s, a group of struggling artists purchased the building, and in 1977, they re-opened the bar. Due to restrictions on changing signage on historic buildings, however, the new proprietors simply painted out part of the letter B in the "Bar" sign, turning it into the word "Ear," which happened to be the name of a music magazine published upstairs.
In 1983, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Its registry number is 83001717.
Today, The Ear Inn is a bar and restaurant that features historic memorabilia and remains largely unchanged from its past appearance, even as urban renewal has transformed the area around it. Indeed, as part of the permitting process, real-estate developers have paid for thousands of dollars in repairs and improvements to the building, including a backyard fire escape.
It has been described by The New York Times as "a dump with dignity."