Greenwich Village Etymology: Chumley’s and the 86 [HISTORY]

Posted on: February 27th, 2014 at 11:47 am by

This image has been archived or removed.

The Grapevine; Photo: New York Times

The historic Chumley’s is back in the news this week, as West Village NIMBYs are trying their best to bar the bar from reopening at 86 Bedford Street. It had closed suddenly back in 2007 when the facade collapsed. Since then, owner Jim Miller jumped through the hoops and red tape to properly reopen.

This turn of events reminds us of two oft-employed phrases in the parlance of our time. Yes, we collectively owe Chumley’s and its long-gone northern neighbor, Grapevine (closed in 1915), a healthy helping of linguistic gratitude for the following…

NIMBY’s want Chumley’s “86’d” from the block.

Or, Marvin Gaye “heard it through the grapevine.”

This image has been archived or removed.

Chumley’s in 2012, Photo: New York Times

We turn to the text of Tony Fletcher’s excellent tome, All Hopped Up and Ready to Go:

Local bars, of which there was never any shortage, proved equally popular meeting places. The Grapevine, on Sixth Avenue and 11th Street, a popular social club of the nineteenth century where early bohemians stopped in to hear neighborhood news, gave us the expression “heard it through…”

And when, during prohibition, the Village’s nook-and-cranny cafes and clubs were transformed into speakeasies, the phrase to “be 86’d” from a bar (i.e., ejected) was born at the unmarked Chumley’s, which would toss revelers out back of its 86 Bedford Street exit when word came of a raid on its Barrow street entrance.

Recent Stories

Owners of Gertie Eye Market Street for ‘Jackie’ (Updated)

Huertas and Gertie meet for Jackie. That is the narrative for a new restaurant in Two Bridges that features the owners behind both aforementioned establishments. Indeed, Nathan Adler and Rachel Jackson (principals behind Brooklyn’s Gertie) are planning a new Italian-American restaurant at 42 Market Street. The fourteen table concept, dubbed Jackie, will feature “good food […]

Trash Talk: Taking Stock of the Constant Pileup on Rivington Street

The Lower East Side, whose residents are struggling amidst sanitation budget cuts, under-maintained restaurant sheds, and absent landlords and/or vacant leaseholders, suffer the scourge of refuse. One Rivington Street resident walked much of the length of the east-west stretch to find – and document – how trash buildup, stagnating pools of mystery sludge, dilapidated street shanties, and overall […]

Uncapped: Nobody Beats IZ THE WIZ

  IZ the WIZ: hands down one of the most illustrious and renowned graffiti writers in and outside of our fair city. May he continue to Rest in Peace. In this installation of Uncapped, guest contributor, Freddy Alva, is back with an excerpt from the new issue of his Black Book Series magazine: Pound for […]

Four Teenagers Arrested with Loaded Guns at PUBLIC Hotel on Chrystie Street

Four teens were busted with three loaded guns inside the PUBLIC Hotel this week. Jarell Swan (19), Anton Philips (18), Linwood Spruill (18), and an unidentified 15-year-old boy were arrested at the swanky, 28-story Chrystie Street lodge on Wednesday, and charged with weapons possession. The four friends were reportedly smoking weed in their room shortly […]

No Return in Sight for Tenants and Businesses Displaced by Mulberry Street Fire

Months after the deadly fire at 78 Mulberry Street, displaced tenants – residential and commercial – are still waiting for renovations to begin. The two-alarm fire broke out at 78 Mulberry Street just before 4:00am on April 15. Roughly one hundred firefighters responded to extinguish the flames, which reportedly spread from the fifth floor. The […]