Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The history of Soho - all in one cafe

I'll be staying in Soho, and plan to have a coffee at Fanelli's Cafe in Prince Street.

SoHo (for South of Houston Street) was swamp and bush until the Dutch began establishing farms in the area in the 1640s. The first farms were owned by freed slaves. In fact, in 1663 the Cafe was a farm owned by Domingo Angelo, a freed slave. The Dutch West India Company had a policy of freeing slaves and granting them farms on New Amsterdam's outskirts. This was part of a Dutch strategy to construct buffer zones to protect their settlement against Indian attacks.

The English took over New Amsterdam in 1664 and renamed it New York. Greene St stayed mostly farmland through the 18th century.The 5-storey brick building was built in 1856. It was a boarding house with a grocery on street level.

Fanelli's operated as a Speakeasy during Prohibition which began in 1920 and ended in 1933. Speakeasies sold alcohol but it was advertised as tea and soft drinks. There was little danger of the small saloon getting closed. Enforcing Prohibition was a federal activity with poorly paid agents. Graft was notorious and tneighborhood saloons a were good places for them to get a cold beer on a hot summer night.

Fanelli's Cafe is the second oldest food and drink establishment, on the same site in New York city since 1847.

Reviews says they do great burgers and boozy lunches!

Yeah, that's me having lunch at Fanelli's

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