I’ll be the first to agree that it’s not the prettiest bar to look at – and things only get worse inside when it comes to the décor – but the Mars Bar is one of the last authentic East Village bars left that recall the area’s punk rock past.
Located at 25 East 1st Street (corner of 1st St and Second Ave), the bar’s just a narrow room, stuffed full of mismatched stools, with an assortment of dodgy paintings on the wall.
The nearby legendary CBGB’s venue closed some years ago, and now it looks like the same fate awaits one of the last dive bars in the area.
As the [LES] became gentrified — a Steve Madden shoe store and the posh Rivington Hotel have helped bring a commercial sheen to the artsy quarter — Max Fish and Pink Pony remained popular.
But [in December], the two Ludlow Street colonizers announced they will shutter Jan. 30 because of a steep rent increase. And nearby, Mars Bar, at First Street and Second Avenue in the East Village, is also set to close as plans to redevelop the site into a mixed-income condo move forward.
Mars Bar — a dingy saloon famous for cheap brew, punk rock and its lack of toilet paper — could reopen in two years but would have to negotiate a market-rate rent with the developer.
The community board is scheduled to vote on the proposal later this month. “The Lower East Side felt like it was over a while ago, but [Max Fish] is a very symbolic closing,” said author Richard Price, who used the neighborhood as a backdrop to his best seller “Lush Life.”
“There are no neighborhoods in Manhattan anymore. South of Harlem, it feels like a bunch of districts where rich people can crash.” [NY Post]
Inside the Mars Bar. The lighting’s always low and the beers are stacked up in boxes behind the bar.
The famously grim bathroom.
Archive view of the Mars Bar from November 2004.
More photos here: Mars Bar, November 2007
More about the closure: