Page 4 of 6THE WHITE HORSE TAVERN
Built in 1880 on the corner of Hudson and 11th Streets, the White House Tavern’s proximity to the docks of the Hudson River made it a longshoreman’s watering hole — not the literary haunt it later became. A Jewish sign painter from Russia named Charles Karsch would begin to alter the old tavern’s character in 1946 when he crafted the White Horse’s famed neon sign; but the bar’s reputation would forever change when a drunken Welsh poet named Dylan Thomas collapsed under that sign’s rosy glow shortly before his death in November 1953. For a generation — during some of the country’s most tumultuous times — the tavern and the sign, featuring scripted red neon letters and a giant horse’s head, drew the best and the most destructive writers from Jack Kerouac (who once discovered “Go Home Kerouac” scribbled on the bathroom wall) to Anais Nin, one of the few notorious female writers to cross the tavern’s threshold. Though the sign holds a special place in hearts of West Village passers-by, Thomas’ ghost will forever reign inside the tavern, his image eclipsing the lone watercolor of the sign in the very back of the bar.