69 Pine Street today
The Knotty Pine was established at 69 Pine Street in 1784 by Amos Vanderlynn, on the site of his father’s bar, which was called The Dutch Courage. The Vanderlynn family retained ownership of the one-story building until 1898, when Charity Vanderlynn’s husband Michael John Whitehead bought up the building and both adjacent lots, with the intention of constructing an office building on the site. The demolition of 69 Pine Street was only prevented when Charity’s cousin, Civil War veteran Adrian Vander, hired a team of Irish laborers and on Christmas Day, 1899, dismantled the entire building, loaded it up onto twelve carts, and delivered it to the back yard of 305 Bleecker Street, where it was reconstructed exactly as it had been at Pine Street, booth by booth and table by table, and reopened on January 5, 1900.
For the next eight years, the only way to get to the bar was by way of a small three-foot-wide passage between 303 Bleecker and 305 Bleecker, which led to the doorway which used to open up onto Pine Street, and now fronted a vegetable garden. When 303 and 305 Bleecker were demolished and a single apartment building was rebuilt over this passageway in 1908, Jonathan Vander had two doors built into the side of the building -- 303, which led to the apartments, and 305, which opened up onto a passageway into the back door of the bar. From the 305 entrance, patrons could walk to a stairway which led to the old Pine Street back door, in the rear of the Knotty Pine’s kitchen. (The current passageway, which bypasses the kitchen entirely, was constructed in 1921.) The 305 door is still the only way to enter the bar, and was especially convenient during Prohibition, when Bat Masterson first called the place by the name it’s known today, The Naughty Pine.
The outer structure of the original Pine Street building, which still exists as an attachment to 303/305 Bleecker and now opens up onto a garden seating area, has undergone three separate renovations since its move to Bleecker, the latest of which was in 1954, when the famous upstairs bar, with its landmark skylight, was added to the structure. This renovation was totally financed by Jackson Pollock and Jack Kerouac, who put up the money on one condition -- that they would never once be banned from the Naughty Pine the way they had been continually banned from the Cedar Tavern on University.
Tomorrow: a history by tabletops (part 1).