Chumley’s Reconstruction Finally Entering Next Phase

The landmark bar collapsed in 2007


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By Dan Myers
Editor

City Guides


The building that was the longtime home of legendary speakeasy Chumley’s, in New York City's Greenwich Village, suffered a partial collapse back in 2007. Now, after years of political wrangling and stalled construction, the site has been deemed structurally sound and traditional construction can finally commence, according to The New York Times.

The building, at 86 Bedford Street, was constructed in 1831, and in 1926 it was purchased by Lee Chumley, who remodeled it to look like a garage (this was during Prohibition, don’t forget). It quickly entered city lore, as guests needed to enter through a back alleyway, and being forced to quickly leave when Prohibition agents showed up gave rise to the term "86'ed." It was reportedly one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s favorite haunts, and in recent years it was a cozy literary hangout with dust jackets from books written by regulars lining the walls.

But all that changed in 2007, when the facade collapsed and the entire site was forced to be rebuilt from the ground up. Construction lurched along in fits and starts, and it needed to be overseen by the Department of Buildings’ forensic engineering unit due to the precarious nature of the structure and the surrounding buildings. Keeping track of the ongoing saga has become somewhat of a tradition for New York food media by this point, largely thanks to the glacial pace of construction. 

Thankfully, the site has finally been deemed safe and secure, and oversight has now been passed to the division that oversees general construction sites.

Hopefully the hardest part is now over, and New Yorkers can soon get back to living it up Prohibition-style in the refurbished space.

Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.


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