Throwback Thursday: A night out in Manhattan…in 1967!

new york 1967 by atherton

This is the seventh article in my Throwback Thursday series, celebrating the upcoming weekend by taking you back in time to a weekend night some time in the past in New York City. From some of the comments I received on this recent article I did calling for feedback, it seems several of you really enjoy this series. So far we’ve been to November 1938, March 1977, August 1922, October 1951, September 1985, and April 1943. Now we’re setting the dials to a time I’ve greatly looked forward to visiting…the late 1960s, when the entire world was in a state of upheaval, but when culture especially in America was uniquely rich and fascinating. If you’ve ever enjoyed an episode of Mad Men, you’ll love this installment!

As with all articles in this series, everything–addresses, prices, the shows playing, show times, etc.–is accurate to the exact date. (In case anyone is wondering, I use newspaper archives to research this series).

It’s Friday, May 5, 1967. Spring is in full bloom but today is cloudy with temperatures at 56 in the daytime, 47 overnight. There may be some showers tonight, so bring a raincoat. The news is troubling. U.S. forces are engaged in a pitched battle in Vietnam, fighting for Hill 881 North near Khe Sanh. Unrest over the war fills the news pages. Yesterday the Senate extended the Selective Service Act (the draft) for four years, and for the first time 19-year-olds can be drafted. Here in New York, apartment maintenance men, members of the Building Service Employees International Union, are about to go on strike today. So if you live in apartment, you’re going to have to take out your own trash this weekend.

old homestead steak house

The Old Homestead Steakhouse, pictured here on Google in 2014, has been here since 1868. It was going strong back in 1967.

We could start tonight, as we always do, with dinner. There’s an English restaurant called Downing Square, 500 Lexington Avenue at 48th Street, that boasts we should “try the beef that ruled Britannia.” I shudder at the thought of English cooking, to be honest. For something more American, we could try Old Homestead, which is New York’s oldest steak house, founded in 1868. It’s at 56 Ninth Avenue. Another steak place is Johnny Johnston’s Charcoal Room, Second Avenue and 45th Street. There we can get a prime rib dinner, with all the customary sides, for $3.95. A cheaper dinner, and presumably beer, is available at the Three Lions Pub, 305 East 41st Street. They advertise their “cock-a-leeky soup is a must!” What is this with all the English food?

There’s a place called Tom Jones–I can’t tell if it’s associated with the singer or not–at 152 East 55th Street, between Third and Lexington. They have live music from the Vivian Greene Trio. There we can get a sirloin steak for $4.25, or veal scallopine for $3.25. Honestly, of all of them, this one sounds the best. Of course there’s Benihana’s, but I’m not really feeling like Japanese food tonight.

Tonight’s performance of Hello Dolly! stars Martha Raye, not Carol Channing, but this clip (with Channing, from 1964) gives you an idea of what it would be like.

As for after-dinner, there are more entertainment choices open to us now than I think there ever have been. I mean, it’s hard to narrow down the choices to just a few. The biggest show on Broadway is Hello Dolly! starring Martha Raye. (Maybe Carol Channing has the night off?) It’s at the St. James Theater on 44th Street. Tickets are $9.90 and the show is at 8:30PM. For something slightly more edgy, there’s an odd musical called Cabaret playing at the Imperial Theater, 249 West 45th Street. The show stars Jill Haworth, Bert Convy and Joel Grey as the Emcee. Orchestra seats are $12. I’d much rather see that than Dolly. Or, there’s a comedy show called Don’t Drink the Water, by that hot new comedian Woody Allen. It stars Lou Jacobi and Tony Roberts, and it’s at the Morosco Theater, 45th and Broadway. Tickets are $7.50. Angela Lansbury is starring in Mame at the Winter Garden Theater, 50th and Broadway. Orchestra seats are $9.90. Another comedy, Cactus Flower, is playing at the Royale, 45th Street west of Broadway. Lauren Bacall and Barry Nelson are in it. And there’s an up-and-coming new comedienne, Joan Rivers, appearing in an act called “Mixed Doubles” at a place called Downstairs at the Upstairs, but I couldn’t find an address. That starts at 10:00 PM.

If a movie sounds better, we have our pick. The Taming of the Shrew starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor is at the Coronet Theater, 59th Street and Third Avenue. Tickets are $3.50 for the 8:30 PM show. Hawaii, the big-budget epic starring Julie Andrews, is at the DeMille, Seventh Avenue at 47th Street, also 8:30. A foreign film, Blow-Up by Antonioni, is showing at the New Embassy Theater, Broadway & 46th Street, shows at 8:00, 10:00 and midnight. Supposedly this is a really groundbreaking movie, the kind no one has ever seen before. It’s taken Europe by storm.

Something a little less avant-garde, perhaps–dare we say, more American? The new heartthrob actor Paul Newman is starring in a film called Hombre, at the 88th Street Playhouse, 88th Street and Third Avenue. Or if he’s still too counterculture for you–after all, we have to defend American values–the John Wayne picture The Alamo, originally produced in 1960, is back for a return engagement. It’s at the Delancey Theater. There will be a second feature, but what that is wasn’t identified. Probably some boring old war movie from the ’50s. If none of these appeal to you, we can go to the ball game. The New York Mets are playing the Houston Astros at 8PM at Shea Stadium.

Antonioni’s Blow Up was one of the great avant garde films of the 1960s. It was remade in 1981 by Brian DePalma as Blow Out.

With all of this great entertainment–I mean, if all else fails we could pick some random club in the Village and go listen to live folk music–there should be no excuse to sit at home, watch TV and drink. But if you’re really that pathetic, you can get a McColl’s Scotch Whisky for $5.35 a quart, a fifth of Sir Robert Burnet’s White Satin Gin for $4.39 a fifth, or House of Lords Gin at $7.47 a quart. (We could be seeing that Woody Allen play for the same price as a quart of cheap gin–just think about that). We could watch that Mets game on TV; it’lll be on WOR, Channel 9, at 8:00. At 7:30 on Channel 7 is a new episode of The Green Hornet, called “The Hunter and the Hunted,” starring Van Williams. That awful show Hogan’s Heroes has a new episode at 8:30 on Channel 2, up against The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on Channel 4. The spy show The Avengers with Diana Rigg is on at 10:00 on Channel 7. Late night, Johnny Carson’s guest on The Tonight Show is legendary lawyer F. Lee Bailey. Hopefully, though, by that time we’ll be enjoying a drink at Sardi’s after Cabaret is over.

Thanks again for joining me on this journey through time. I’m not sure where we’ll go next week, but I’ll think of something!

The header image, which is of Fifth Avenue from the Pan Am (now Met Life) Building, was taken in 1967 by John Atherton. It is used under Creative Commons 2.0 (Attribution) license.
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12 Comments

  1. Hey Sean, I REALLY liked this installment of this series. It really flowed! I love the prices that you mention. Just think how much things have changed. Again, I really enjoyed this one especially.

  2. LOVE this series! Being a New Yorker, it’s fun for me to read these since you’ve obviously done your homework and are specific with the locations, etc.

    I have been curious though as to why so many of the locations are in midtown? Obviously, it makes since for the Broadway shows. I think, especially in a decade like the 60’s, it would be fun to venture downtown. Areas like Greenwich Village and theLower East Side were becoming epicenters for the counter-culture movement and were doing really interesting things in theater, art, ‘ethnic’ cuisine, etc. Just an idea.

    I always look forward to Thursday to read your new entry!

    1. Thanks! Yes, this has proven to be a very popular series, and it’s fun to do.

      Where the locations end up is often luck of the draw. The way I research these articles is that I pick a target date and then look at the New York Times for that particular date (my university library has the complete NYT archive on microfilm, so you can just pull the reels off the shelf). I consult movie and show listings, and the restaurants come from the ads that are run in the paper that day, especially if they list prices. So there are definitely a lot of great restaurants all over the city, but if they didn’t happen to pay for a NYT advertisement, they’re less likely to be caught by my review. I suppose this in itself creates a sort of “selection bias” for midtown locations, which are more likely, I guess, to court the kind of clientele that reads NYT for restaurant suggestions. Unfortunately we don’t have back issues of the Village Voice at my library, which would yield a totally different group!

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