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5 Iconic Bar Murals of New York City: Celebrating Artistic Flair and Culture


King Cole Bar

2 East 55th St, New York, NY 10022


King Cole Bar, Maxfield Parrish, St. Regis Hotel, Courtesy of the St. Regis Hotel.

This mural, crafted by Maxfield Parrish in 1906, was originally a special commission from Colonel John Jacob Astor for his esteemed 42nd Street establishment, The Knickerbocker. Following its departure from The Knickerbocker, the mural embarked on a journey through various NYC locations before finding its permanent residence at The St. Regis Hotel in 1932. Acclaimed by generations of New Yorkers and global hotel guests, Old King Cole has overseen many historic events in the city. Hidden within this painting lies a secret that is known to only be revealed to those standing behind the bar.



Niagra NYC

112 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009


Niagra Bar, Yoshitomo Nara, detail of the mural. Photo Courtesy of Nate Freeman.


In this legendary dive bar in the East Village, acclaimed artist Yoshitomo Nara playfully sketched on its walls after a night of revelry. As the night progressed and inspiration flowed, Nara spontaneously began sketching his vibrant characters on the bar's walls. Among these drawings a spirited character pounding the drums, belting out The Ramones' iconic "Hey ho, let's go!" a bass player sporting a "staying cool" hat, and a short-haired girl passionately drumming. Alongside the bathrooms, the scene continues with a lead singer energetically proclaiming "Hey NYC are you happy?" into a microphone. Once his artistic creation was complete, Nara signed and dated the work and now you can view these works framed and displayed proudly on the walls.



Bemelmans Bar

35 E 76th St, New York, NY 10021


Bemelman's Bar, Ludwig Bemelmans, The Carlyle Hotel, Photo Courtesy of Ashley Webster


Bemelmans stands out as a true mural haven among the featured bars, and for good reason. The bar proudly celebrates the enchanting work of Ludwig Bemelmans. Celebrated for his Madeline series of children's tales, Bemelmans was commissioned by the hotel's Managing Director during the mid-1940s. The task was to craft expansive murals showcasing all four seasons of Central Park. It's said, that in exchange for his artistic talents, Bemelman and his family enjoyed accommodations at the hotel for a year-and-a-half.


Monkey Bar

60 E 54th St, New York, NY 10022


Monkey Bar, Ed Sorel, Close-up of Mural, Courtesy of Christopher Dorsey, Saving Places.


Ed Sorel's murals at Monkey Bar are a delightful mix of artistry and history. Sorel, a renowned illustrator and caricaturist for the New Yorker, brings the walls of this iconic restaurant to life with his signature style. The murals showcase colorful and expressive characters, that often depict celebrated figures from popular culture. Sorel's playful style makes the Monkey Bar murals a visual treat for its patrons and is a nod to the city's rich culture and character.



Caravaggio

23 E 74th Street, New York, NY 10021


Caravaggio Restaurant Mural, Donald Baechler, Courtesy of Caravaggio's Gallery


Situated only one block away from Central Park, Caravaggio is known for its rich art history. Not only does its name pay homage to the renowned Baroque painter, but the Caravaggio is home to artworks by Matisse, Ellsworth Kelly, and Frank Stella. Adding to the allure is the commissioned mural by Donald Baechler. The mural features a variety of "astonished faces" that create a playful and alluring ambiance at the iconic modern Italian restaurant.



Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/20/t-magazine/bemelmans-bar.html

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304799404579155742491438478#:~:text=Regis%20Hotel—where%20American%20painter,king%2C%20seated%20on%20a%20throne.

https://www.marriott.com/en-us/hotels/nycxr-the-st-regis-new-york/dining/

https://ny.eater.com/2019/10/11/20908399/niagara-wall-art-yoshitomo-nara-nyc

https://caravaggioristorante.com/press/

https://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/dining/reviews/restaurant-review-caravaggio-on-the-italian-upper-east-side.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

https://www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/the-carlyle-new-york/media/press-kit/history-of-bemelmans

https://savingplaces.org/stories/historic-bars-monkey-bar-new-york






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