Mad Hatter Tea Room


Prohibition Hot Spot for those who took their Earl Grey with a Shot of Whiskey

Mad hatter tea room greenwich village

About Mad Hatter Tea Room

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • What looks like a regular New York apartment building once housed the first and most famous “tea room” in New York, called the Mad Hatter.   
    • The Mad Hatter Tea Room operated here from 1916 to about 1930. 
  •  Tea rooms were inexpensive restaurants operated almost exclusively for and by women. 
    • Very popular in the 20th century, tea rooms served inexpensive food and drink to starving artists, intellectuals, and uptowners.   
  • Back in the 1920s, women were not allowed into most of the bars where men congregated, sotea rooms were a place for women to socialize.   
  • The Mad Hatter became a popular hangout for lesbians and is among a cache of early lesbian hotspots that catered to the area’s radical intelligentsia. 
  •  The Mad Hatter was owned by Eliza “Jimmie” Criswell and her partner Mathilda Spence. 
  • Then, from 1945 to 1970, the building was home to The Pony Stable Inn, a lesbian bar. 
  • Other tea rooms in the Village included Jade Buddha, Flamingo, Peg’s Pantry, The Red Head, Pig & Whistle.  
    • In the 1920s, author Henry Miller’s wife, June, worked as a waitress at The Pepper Pot, another tea room at 146 West 4th Street.   
  • During the Prohibition, many tea rooms became more profitable as speakeasies. Sincespeakeasies opened the door for women & men to hang out in the same bars together, the era of the tea room came to an end.   
  • These tea rooms laid the groundwork for the modern, small restaurants and cafes we know today. 

Carpe City Trivia

What was the Heterodoxy Club?

The club was “for unorthodox women,” who “did things and did them openly.” It was founded in 1912 by Marie Jennie Howe and met every Saturday at Polly’s Restaurant in 137 McDougal Street.  

By: Lucie Levine

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