Sheepshead Bay: Killer Of Landmark Restaurants Before Many Of Us Were Even Born

Tappen's Hotel, Emmons Avenue and East 27th Street. Source: Forgotten New York

Remember last month, when The Village Voice’s Robert Sietsema compiled a round-up in which Sheepshead Bay nabbed the top three slots out of five for “Five Dead and Gone Classic Brooklyn Restaurants?”

Apparently they missed one (although, to be fair, so did we). It turns out that yesterday, in 1950 — and I’ll bet even Lisanne didn’t know this (although…now that I think of it, she probably does) — a fire gutted the venerable Sheepshead Bay landmark Tappen’s Restaurant on Emmons Avenue and East 27

th

Street.

According to the Brooklyn Eagle’s “On This Day in History: May 5,” Tappen’s — the choice seafood dining establishment of Diamond Jim Brady, Lillian Russell, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt and Harry K. Thaw, the jealous assassin who gunned down Washington Square Arch architect Stanford White in a jealous rage atop the roof of his own designed Madison Square Garden (the old one, not the one the Knicks currently play at) — was the place to eat during the early years of the 20

th

century.

The celebrated restaurant and hotel — which served high-profile patrons during the days of “horsecars, springwagons and oil lamps” for more than a century — was erected long before the start of the Civil War by one Jeremiah Tappen, described by the Eagle as “a Grand Street, Manhattan hotel-keeper,” who is now interred at Green-Wood Cemetery.

“Truly, the death of Tappen’s is the death of a Brooklyn era. Up to the end the picturesque old restaurant and hotel remained practically the same as when the coaches, barouches, smarttraps and tallyhos stopped there with their prominent owners after a day spent at the nearby racetrack. A person who had not been to the restaurant between the days of horsecars, springwagons and oil lamps and this year [1950] would easily recognize Tappen’s at once. It had been enlarged somewhat and repairs had been made to the roof. Also modern plumbing and furniture had been installed, but the architecture remained practically the same as the day it was opened by Jeremiah Tappen, a Grand Street, Manhattan hotel-keeper, a long time before the Civil War. Then New Yorkers went to Sheepshead Bay by ferry and horse-drawn wagons.”

What stands there today? Labcorp At Personal Touch.

Sigh.

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