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Chronicles: Marie’s Crisis Cafe

Photo copyright 2008 by Ronald Spainhour: www.mygothamphotos.com

Photo copyright 2008 by Ronald Spainhour: www.mygothamphotos.com

Nestled in the tree lined Grove Street, in Greenwich Village, there is sits a white brick building with red trim. It stands out on the street full of mid-19th century townhouses not just because of its old fashioned sign and garish paint, but because late into the evenings, on any given night, the sounds of Broadway tunes can be heard wafting from the basement bar into the street, sung in loud, and surprisingly in tune, voices. It is here at Marie’s Crisis Cafe where stars, and not so stars, of the stage gather to sing away the blues with their fellow actors. Where the piano might be as old as the bar, but no one cares, where drinks are cheap and loyalties fierce.
From a respectable home, into a brothel and then later, in the 1890s, a bar, Marie’s has seen it all, even weathering Prohibition as a speakeasy. The oddly named cafe is steeped in more than sorted history though, it is on this very spot where revolutionary and statesman Thomas Paine died in 1809, in the wood framed house which stood before the current brick structure in 1839. It is from Thomas Paine that Marie’s receives half its name, after his “Crisis Papers” in which the famed line “These are the times that try men’s souls” was first written. It is Thomas Paine who first laid out the reasons why American had to break from England in his paper “Common Sense,” forming the groundwork for revolution. The Marie comes from the original owner, a Frenchwoman by the name of Marie Dumont.
Marie’s Crisis Cafe
59 Grove Street, New York, NY‎ – (212) 243-9323‎

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