FiDiaries: A Social Media Director Digs Into FiDi’s Underground Bar Scene

When my nose lets up from the grindstone at the FiDi-based innovative credit card processing company where I manage social media, I like to take an afternoon walk around the block. While I always noticed the thick glass-panelled sidewalk across the street from my office, I had never really bothered to investigate what was beneath until recently, when I peered down and discovered that under Stone Street lies a hazy subterranean module of neighborhood’s past: the foundation walls of Lovelace Tavern. Open from 1670 through 1706, those decrepit structures saw a thing or two.

At the time of the tavern’s inception, Manhattan was concentrated a few blocks above where the modern day Financial District now stands by a sturdy fortification of dirt and wooden boards. Allow me to set the scene for you: the English had recently seized this rapidly growing settlement from the Dutch in what would prove to be a New World tug-of-war. Daniel Denton’s New York promo pamphlet targeting disgruntled Euro dwellers promised the enticement of “divers sorts of singing birds, whose chirping notes [saluted] the ears of travellers with a harmonious discord.” This pastoral marketing content was just the icing on the cake of a settlement overrun with industrious hustlers turned out in waistcoats, breeches, and whatever wig happened to be trending. New York even boasted a six-floor building! It was already light years ahead of the game by colonial standards.

Next time you find yourself feeling sleuthy in the Financial District, stroll into the lobby of 85 Broad Street for a glimpse of Stone Street’s original trajectory in the form of an 1,800-square-foot cobblestone curved corridor. Disinterred to everyone’s surprise along with a number of nifty artifacts in the late 1970s (while the former Goldman Sachs office tower was being constructed), Lovelace’s Tavern was named for its owner — the second governor of New York, Francis Lovelace. Besides fabulously glossy natural curls, this particular British colonel boasted a tight bro-ship with the Duke of York himself. His wine-soaked pub, rife with pipe tobacco smoke and ye olde good times, architecturally mainlined directly into the town’s municipal chambers, so that lawmakers and the who’s who of early-era NYC could enjoy an integrated lifestyle of business and pleasure (in other words, they were blitzed at work).

Left holding the bag during an early 1670s Dutch reclamation of New York, Colonel Lovelace was scapegoated by his own people and sent to dismal captivity in the Tower of London, where he met his demise. His namesake tavern persevered until it was burnt to a crisp, leaving only a charred foundation. All that was left to remember him by was the postal route he had established to New England and a number of handy merchant posts he introduced on the Hudson River.

When my colleagues and I are hankering for happy hour, we like to decompress at the historically named Lovelace Cocktail and Gin Bar across from Stone Street, where its inspiration now rests in permanent display under the ebb and flow of pedestrian traffic (all things considered legacy-wise, the guy could’ve done much worse). Of course, in the name of Colonel Lovelace, I’m working my way through the 50 international gins they keep in stock there. FiDi state of mind is all about the glass-half-full mentality.