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Lost NYC Gay Bars – The Only Known Video Of The Original Eagle’s Nest Bar In NYC (1971 – 2000)

Located at 11th. Avenue and 21st. Street, NYC’s The Eagle’s Nest was originally a longshoreman’s bar called the Eagle Open Kitchen from 1931 – 1970 which was then acquired by Jack Modica who turned the rough and tumble pub into a Leather/ Levi bar

With a few coats of black paint and an old beat up motorcycle for decoration, a gay institution was born. “The Eagle” was open 7 days a week including holidays.  And was always the place to go.

Back in those days it’s patrons loved the isolation and the raw masculinity of this dark sexual playground and bar on the West Side Highway.  Cigars, uniforms, poppers, and sex in the bathrooms and backroom were on the menu nightly.

But with the onset of AIDS in the mid – late 80’s, sexual habits were changing and the gay community was reassessing itself. By the 90’s the neighborhood was evolving and the frontier was now being gentrified.  Old warehouses were converted into upscale loft buildings or art galleries. Landlords were not renewing old leases and by the year 2000, Jack Modica chose to retire rather than to reopen The Eagle elsewhere.

And while a new version of called the Eagle NYC was reopened on, October 5, 2001, by different owners at 554 W 28th Street it was never the same. 

The video below taken after hours shortly before it’s closing and is all remains other than the memories of its patrons of the infamous gay leather bar.

Have a story about the original Eagle’s Nest?  Post it below and share the memories.

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's well known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story, Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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4 thoughts on “Lost NYC Gay Bars – The Only Known Video Of The Original Eagle’s Nest Bar In NYC (1971 – 2000)”

  1. when the eagle first opened, there was a restaurant in the south half of the bar. It may have lasted for a year. We all commented that a steak dinner with potatoes was around $2.50, a bargin. Even then a piece of steak they served cost more at the time in the food stores. So we all wondered where they got their meat.

  2. Yes. There was an enamel sign in the bathroom stating « Paper Towels Don’t Flush ». Under it someone wrote « and big girls don’t cry ».

  3. Modica had a couple of partners in the original venture; he later bought them out. One of the partners was photographer Lou Thomas (Jon Target of Target Studios).

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