Mae West's New York

Mae West was born on August 17, 1893, in Brooklyn, NY. The exact location of her birth is unknown but is said to have been in the neighborhood of Bushwick or Greenpoint. West was known for being an open book but her New York journey is somewhat shaded in mystery, possibly due to the fact that her family moved around a lot. What follows are some records of her time in the city—places that have claimed she was there—where she might have lived and performed and became the Mae West known and loved today.


8905 88th St., Woodhaven, Queens

There is an official marker at this address and many Queens papers have written that Mae was a resident of Woodhaven during her childhood. However, there are other websites that claim her time in Queens was actually very little—that her parents moved there when Mae was an adult and well on her way to Hollywood. 

Neir's Tavern, 87-48 78th St, Queens, NY

Neir's Tavern, originally known as "The Blue Pump Room" when it was founded in 1829, as well as "The Old Abbey," is said to be where Mae West performed as a child, when it was known as "Neir's Social Hall." According to the Neir's website, she "used to dance (and possibly first performed) in the ballroom, which featured a wooden balcony with small hotel rooms around the upper walls, similar to the Wild West dancehalls of the movies and television." And speaking of movies and television, parts of Martin Scorsese's GOODFELLAS were actually shot in Neir's! 

Bushwick Avenue, between Bleecker and Menahan, Brooklyn, NY 

John Hylan was the 96th Mayor of New York City from 1918 to 1925 and lived at 959 Bushwick Ave in Brooklyn. According to Mae West, at some point she lived next door to him. Mae's family was known to live on Bushwick Avenue around the time that Mae was 14 years old, in 1907.

P.S. 81Q, 559 Cypress Avenue, Ridgewood, NY 

According to the Bushwick Daily:

"Mae was a student at Ridgewood’s P.S. 81Q (559 Cypress Avenue, between Bleecker and Menahan), where a former classmate once recalled a teacher criticizing her frequent absences. Reports vary, but some believe that Mae had effectively dropped out of school by age 13 to pursue her growing stage career."


266 West End Avenue New York, NY 

According to the blog Daytonian in Manhattan:

"By the 1930s, Beverly West, the sister of Mae West, was living in the house. West End Avenue lore insists that the screen and stage siren was also living here at the time, and quite possibly it is true. Certainly the interiors were of Miss West’s taste, mirroring her Los Angeles apartment that dripped with rococo curls and nude floating cherubs."