The Hip Bagel, New York, 1960s
In 1960s New York, The Hip Bagel in Greenwich Village was THE place to be. The café which opened in 1963 – the year of President John F Kennedy’s assassination - was the unofficial headquarters of the city’s in-crowd.
It was frequented by musicians such as Bob Dylan (who lived next door), artists Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko and Robert Rauschenberg, comedian Lenny Bruce, filmmaker Woody Allen and countless others. All before they became famous.
It was opened by restaurateur Sheldon “Shelly” Fireman, who came up with the idea of making the bagel - New York’s most iconic snack - hip. With no experience in the hospitality industry, he spent a few months researching the idea and opened on MacDougal Street – the hippest street in the city at the time.
The 1960s was an era of social and political protest in the US. Young people were devastated by the assassination of their young President – and later the assignation of civil rights leader Martin Luther King. They wanted an end to the Vietnam War and they were angry about the lack of progress on civil rights. As a way of showing that rejecting the norms of society, they grew their hair long and developed their own subculture.
The Hip Bagel was the place where hippies and beatniks would spend hours and hours, discussing philosophy, music and art. It was mentioned in Woody Allen’s film Play It Again Sam. Satirist Lenny Bruce went there often after he finished his stand-up performances at Gaslight. Puerto Rican musician Jose Feliciano got his break after playing there. Bob Dylan dropped by before and after his gigs in the West Village.
Shelly Fireman went on to open other famous restaurants and still has six eating establishments – including Fiorellos at Columbus Circle and The Brooklyn Diner in New York- and two in Maryland.
Courtesy Private Collection.
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