HISTORY

From the ornamental jockey figurines to the secret wine cellar, '21' is an American icon.

Officially opened on January 1, 1930, '21' is one of America’s most famous speakeasies from the Prohibition Era. Designed with its own disappearing bar and a secret wine cellar to hide the illegal liquor from prying eyes, it’s a place where celebrities and captains of industry have wined and dined for more than 80 years.

Celebrity Tables

Use this interactive map to find out where our celebrity regulars like to sit.

Table 1

Regis Philbin

American media personality, actor, singer

Table 2

Larry King

Radio and TV journalist

Helen Hayes

The first lady of American theater

Jay McInerney

Author

Table 3

Robert Benchley

Humorist, drama critic, actor

Joan Rivers

Iconic comedienne, TV presenter, entertainer

Otto Preminger

Film director, actor

Gordon Gekko

Fictional character played by Micheal Douglas in Wall Street

Jann Wenner

Founder of Rolling Stone magazine

Table 4

Helen Gurley Brown

Author and former Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine

Table 5

Laurence and Jonathan Tisch

Fabled Wall Street investors

Table 6

Jean Kennedy Smith

U.S. Ambassador to Ireland from 1993

Dorothy Parker

American critic, satirical poet and short-story writer

Mary Kate Olsen

Actress

Table 7

Ernest Hemingway

Writer, hunter, hellraiser

Richard Nixon

37th President of the United States

Henry Kissinger

Statesman

George and Barbara Bush

41st US President and First Lady

Table 8

George Clooney

Academy Award-nominated actor, director, screenwriter

James Baker III

White House Chief of Staff for President Reagan, Secretary of State in the first Bush adminstration

Table 9

Barbara Walters

Writer, TV and radio host, renowned reporter

Brian Williams

Anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News

Jerry Jones

Owner, president and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys

Jerry Richardson

Owner of the Carolina Panthers

Table 10

Dominick Dunne

Author, columnist, producer

Table 11

Gerald and Betty Ford

38th US President and First Lady

Donald Trump

Property tycoon

Table 12

The Marx Brothers

Comedy legends

George Steinbrenner

Owner of the New York Yankees

Joe Torre

Former manager of the New York Yankees

Table 14

Frank Sinatra

'Chairman of the Board' and legend

Ed Koch

Former Mayor of New York City

Nancy Reagan

Former First Lady

Table 15

Joan Collins

London born actress

Table 18

Ricky Gervais

Emmy-winning actor, creator of The Office and HBO's Extras

Table 19

Tom Brokaw

American television journalist, author

Les Moonves

President and CEO of CBS

Katie Couric

American journalist, author, talk show host

Liza Minelli

Actress, singer

Table 21

Maxwell (Mac) Kriendler

Brother of the founders of '21'

Jackie Gleason

Great comedian, actor

Rev. Al Sharpton

Founder of National Action Network

Table 23

Bo Jackson

Baseball player for Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals

Table 25

Chris Evert

Tennis champion

Matt Dillon

Actor

Table 27

Bette Midler

Actress, singer, entertainer, author

Ruth Reichl

American food writer, editor

Table 29

Alec Baldwin

Actor

Table 30

Humphrey Bogart

Screen legend and such a regular at '21' that table 30 is called 'Bogie's Corner. It was at this table that he sat on his first date with fashion model and budding movie star, Lauren Bacall his third (and last) wife.

Robert Altman

Film producer and multiple Oscar winner

Table 31

General Wesley Clark

Retired four-star general and NATO Supreme Allied Commander

Bill Clinton

42nd US President

Prince Edward

British royalty

Kennedys

Table 41

Luciano Pavarotti

Opera singer

Sela Ward

Actor

Table 42

Bill and Melinda Gates

Founder of Microsoft and his wife

Table 49

Rod Stewart

British singer-songwriter

Table 50

Savion Glover

Dancer, choreographer

Table 51

Bill Murray

Actor, comedian

Table 52

Ivan Boesky

Wall Street financier

Table 53

Alan King

Actor

Andy Williams

Singer

Table 54

Whoopi Goldberg

Comedienne, actress

Frank Polk

Sculptor, artist

Pete Kriendler

Founder of '21'

Table 55

Daryl Hannah

Actress

Laura Bush

Former First Lady

Table 56

Harrison Ford

Actor

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Celebrity Tables

Dazzling Décor

Wine cellar

Raids by police and federal tax officers during the Prohibition Era were persistent and frequent. This led many club owners to go to great lengths to hide their illegal liquor. Jack and Charlie did just that when they employed architect Frank Buchanan to design a complex system of camouflaged doors, invisible chutes, revolving bars and a secret wine cellar to hide and destroy the evidence. 

Rather cleverly, the wine cellar was not actually part of the '21' building at all, but the basement of No. 19 next door. So when the authorities asked the bar staff if they had any liquor on the premises, they could honestly say no! In reality, it housed 2,000 cases of wine, including the private collections of Presidents Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Mae West, Eva Gabor and Aristotle Onassis. 

Today, it’s filled with some of the finest wines in the world, including Montrachet 1898, Petrus ’82, Romanee-Conti 1880 and Chateau Lafite-Rothschild—no wonder it’s widely considered to be one of the world’s most coveted private dining rooms.

The Toys

There are few more unique or tantalizing ceiling-scapes anywhere in the world. Every inch is occupied with a fabulous array of sporting and industrial memorabilia, all donated by patrons. There’s a model of a PT-109 torpedo boat from President John F. Kennedy, baseball bat from Willie Mays, a replica of Air Force One from President Clinton, tennis racquets from Chris Evert and John McEnroe—even a golf club from Jack Nicklaus.

The Jockeys

Standing guard on the balcony above the entrance to '21' is a group of ornamental jockeys, all donated by some of the best-known stables in American thoroughbred racing. 

Sportsman, entrepreneur and long-time patron, Jay van Urk, presented '21' with its first jockey in the early 1930s and his quirky ‘present’ soon caught on with similar donations from the likes of the Vanderbilt, Mellon and Ogden Mills Phipps families.

Iron Gate

The wrought-iron gate outside '21' is as much a part of the fabric of this New York establishment as the secret wine cellar and the celebrity clientele. 

The gate itself actually dates back to 1926 when Jack Kriendler and Charlie Berns moved their Club Fronton from 88 Washington Place to 42 West 49th Street. The new bar was called The Puncheon (and a host of other names to confuse federal tax men!). But no sooner had the doors opened than they received notice that the Rockefeller Center was going to be built on the site, so Jack and Charlie received $11,000 from the landowner to vacate. 

On January 1, 1930, with the help of a few patrons, they unhinged the gate from the doorway of No. 42 and installed it three blocks north at 21 West 52nd Street. '21' was officially opened.

Iron Gate 2.0 Yearbook

Over the last nine decades, '21' has been frequented by some of the biggest names in showbusiness, sport, literature, television, politics and business. So what better way to honor a lifetime of dedication than with an exclusive guest book packed with all sorts of tributes? 

That’s exactly what Jack and Charlie did in 1936 when they published the Iron Gate yearbook in 1936. In 1950, upon Jack’s untimely death and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of '21', an updated version was published with entries from the likes of Walt Disney. 

Iron Gate 2.0 was published on December 31, 2009 to coincide with the 80th anniversary of '21'.

Gallery

Take a closer look at the restaurants, bars and beautiful event rooms.