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Century-old NYC locales still thriving

The facade and signs at Katz's Delicatessen, the

The facade and signs at Katz's Delicatessen, the oldest operating deli in New York. (June 21, 2013) Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

Last month, Katz's Deli celebrated 125 years of piling pastrami high on the Lower East Side. The delicatessen, New York City's oldest, is part of a group of institutions that still do what they have done best since the days when horse-drawn carriages shuttled people through unpaved streets.

These businesses, venues and community mainstays have survived for more than a century:

Bike maker:

Worksman Cycles

94-15 100th St.

Worksman Trading Corp. is America's oldest bicycle manufacturer, based in Ozone Park. The company, better known as Worksman Cycles, was founded in 1898 and continues to provide industrial-grade tricycles, specialty bicycles, and food vending carts, like ones used by Good Humor.

"You know those ever-present halal carts? A lot of those are ours," said Wayne Sosin, president of the company since 2007.

The Worksman Bicycle, selling for $850, is a minimalist take on the messenger bike.

Place of worship:

Old Quaker Meeting House

137-16 Northern Blvd.

The Old Quaker Meeting House in Flushing is the oldest place of worship in the five boroughs, founded in 1694, four decades after the English renamed New Amsterdam as New York.

Today, the Religious Society of Friends, better known as Quakers, continue to hold an hour of silent worship at the meeting house, which has a sign out front that notes that all are welcome to come in and pray as they wish, in quiet.

"It's been in continuous use, except for the time it was occupied by the British during the Revolutionary War," said Wendy Burns, a clerk with the Religious Society of Friends, which maintains the three-century old meeting house.


Old Homestead

56 Ninth Ave.

Old Homestead was originally a location where traders sailing into New York came to dine. President Andrew Johnson celebrated narrowly escaping impeachment by one vote in 1868, the year the restaurant was established.

"Steakhouses come and go in New York City, but Old Homestead Steakhouse has become an icon because of its longevity. Because it is the oldest true steakhouse in New York City, Old Homestead set the bar for this culinary niche and the steakhouse dining experience in New York," said Steve Mangione, a spokesman for the steakhouse.

Annabelle the Cow, the life-size cow sculpture atop the entrance, has greeted Old Homestead guests since 1953.


Paul Molé

1034 Lexington Ave.

A man who sits in Paul Molé Barber Shop, the city's oldest, on the Upper East Side can walk out looking as sharp as the customers in the decades-old photographs that adorn the walls.

"The styles haven't changed," said owner Adrian Wood, who has been with Paul Molé for 40 years. "A good haircut is a good haircut."

The barbershop was established in 1913 under Joseph Molé, who opened for business down the block from where the shop stands today, on Lexington Avenue and East 74th Street.



32 Spring St.

Over a century ago, when the chichi boutiques of SoHo were factories, the Italian immigrants who worked there would come into Lombardi's for a slice of pizza, which would be tied up in brown paper with string.

"They would take the pizza back to the factories and heat them up in the ovens used to keep them warm . . . and that was lunch," said John Brescio, the current owner of Lombardi's. "It's where Italian immigrants went who needed help when they first settled."

Located at 32 Spring St. in NoLita, Lombardi's is the oldest operating pizzeria in America. Gennaro Lombardi, founder, started the tradition in 1905, when the location was a much smaller store at 53 Spring St.


Bowling Green Park

Broadway and Whitehall Street

Bowling Green Park was New York City's first official park, created by the Common Council in 1733. For the three men responsible for adding grass and trees to the park, the city leased the land "at an annual rent of one peppercorn," the city Parks Department website says.

Historic events that took place on the ground where the park stands include the 1626 sale of Manhattan to Peter Minuit and the toppling of a King George III statue by a mob incited by a reading of the Declaration of Independence.

FDNY/NYPD stations:

Engine No. 5

340 E. 14th St.

Central Park Precinct

86th Street and Traverse Road, Central Park

The oldest FDNY firehouse still battling blazes is Engine Company 5, which was first organized in September 1865. The station house, at 340 E. 14th St., was built in 1880 and 1881 by architect Napoleon Lebrun, who designed many firehouses in the city in the late 19th century.

For the NYPD, the headquarters of the offices near Central Park are in the oldest precinct in the city. The Central Park Precinct was established in 1936 out of a redesigned High Victorian Gothic horse stable built in 1870.

Subway line:


The Interborough Rapid Transit line known today as the No. 4, 5 and 6 line is the oldest subway route. The IRT, controlled by a private company of the same name, opened in October 1904. The line at first took passengers from City Hall to 145th Street and Broadway. Meanwhile, construction for an extension of the line into Brooklyn was under way, with service reaching the borough by 1908.

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