20 December 2007

Dive Right In

I'm capable of getting misty-eyed about almost any neighborhood in the City. But, I'm sorry: Woodside, Queens, has almost nothing to recommend it. I've explored the area thoroughly and found only two things of note, other than the elevated subway tracks, which give the place an atmospheric, film noir vibe that it doesn't really merit.

Those two are Donovan's, the Irish pub which serves up great ambiance and a nice burger, and the Station Cafe, and out-and-out dive that is almost unmatched in the City in its unironic dinginess and destitution. Its name is derived from its location, almost dead center under the intersection of the 7 line 61st Street stop and the Long Island Railroad station. In an interview, a bartender said the place was founded about 80 years ago, which would mean it started up in the heart of Prohibition. There's a story there.

The squat building is one story tall and coated in brick-red metal. The awning over the central door has been losing its battle with gravity for years, but refuses to hit the ground. I've often passed the tavern at 9 AM, so I know it opens early, and its patrons take good advantage of its early hours. Barflies gather just after breakfast, nursing weak beers or whiskey, and presenting drawn, resigned faces to the world. Actually drinking in the place is fairly unsettling Eugene O'Neill kind of experience (I've tried once or twice). It could be the place where Dana Andrews spends his last nickel in a 1940s, postwar flick. There's a pool table, seldom used, and a couple windows, shaded by Venetian blinds, through which escape a few sad, dim rays of sunshine.

But I have to hand it to a bar that is a bar, and not an idea of a bar. I also applaud the place's spirit. Though life and time stands still inside the Station Cafe, they don't forget the holidays. Decorations go up like clockwork after Thanksgiving—evidence that the management utilizes the calendar. Merry Christmas, boys! Have one on me.


Barbara L. Hanson said...

For future reference: Macy's has always been open late during the Christmas season. As was A&S, Sears, and the rest.

angvou said...

Weird synchronicity-- I just now posted a Flickr pic of this place I took on Christmas. (A relative lives in Woodside and we drove by). I have a note-to-self that I must grab a drink there somehow,sometime soon.

Yr blog is my kind of place. cheers/.

Anonymous said...

Got a big problem with u merely stating that woodside has nothing endereing other than Donovans and The Station Bar, how about Calvary cemetary final resting place to many famous gangsters, civil war heroes and film stars. Lets not forget Doughboy Park. Seem to just pass by Shelleys bar as well, The Moore Jackson cemetary, The Woodside Pavillion from 1877 still stands, Saint Pauls Episcopal CHurch built 1877 still stands, Nunziato Florists still in business from 1901, JAckson Social and field club from 1900 still stands and still meets...quite simply do not dismiss a town because you find nothing endearing, I and many other former residents love the area we once called home!