How To Recreate Princeton's "The Street" In NYC

by Stanely Stuyvesant · December 17, 2009

Princeton alums are almost pathologically loyal to their alma mater. The school's annual reunion bacchanals and absurd alumni giving rate are proof enough of that. But the ties that bind graduates to Old Nassau even extend to New York.


The best indication of the social lives of New York-based Princetonians lies in the school's famed eating clubs.-

The jewel of the eating club crown might be Ivy. Its members are no strangers to exclusivity, so expect them to breeze through some of the city's tougher doors at The Top of the Standard, Avenue, The Wooly and Rose Bar.

Tiger Inn is the closest The Street comes to a Beirut and beer bong-centric frat house. It's popular with the jocks who participate in Princeton's testosterone-heavy sports as opposed to the niche programs like fencing and squash that every Ivy League school somehow excels in. TI's crowd would normally hang out in Murray Hill sports bars. But those Ivy degrees allow them to avoid such downmarket venues and cheer on the Black & Orange at midtown's Princeton Club.

Princeton alum F. Scott Fitzgerald described "literary Quadrangle" in This Side of Paradise. We're going to assume not much has changed in the intervening 89 years and say that the ink-stained bookworms of the Quad flock to modern day salons like the East Village's KGB Bar and the Happy Ending Reading Series at Joe's Pub. Hello nerd farm.

Follow the chlorine-scented trail to Cloister, the dry land home away from home of Princeton's swim team. Cloister is also popular with the crew team, giving the club its Floaters & Boaters theme parties. And we already told you where Ivy League swimmers like to drink things other than dirty pool water.

Preppy Princeton might not overflow with bohemians, but the school's soon-to-be-starving artists probably eat up at the Terrace Club's buffet. You can find Terrace alums chains-moking at grungy/artsy venues like Glasslands, Union Pool and Galapagos or trying to catch a big break with their band at Mercury Lounge or Cake Shop.

According to Princeton's website, "Tower Club has often been considered to have the most political junkies" on The Street. New York might not appeal to this crowd quite as much as D.C., but you might try your luck at finding it by hanging out at preferred ambassador crash pad the Waldorf Astoria whenever the U.N. is in session.

Princeton engineering wonks are occasionally unchained from the library and head to Charter. We'd tell you where to find them in New York, but old habits die hard, and these folks don't make it out much.

Cottage has the most Southern feel of all the clubs. It's kind of like an Ivy for the sub-Mason Dixon line crowd. Alums who agree to put up with another few years in Yankee territory by moving to New York might seek some southern comfort with soul food at Mara's Homemade, Great Jones Cafe or, God help the Confederacy, Brother Jimmy's.

F. Scott offered a sad portrait of "anti-alcoholic, faintly religious" Cap & Gown. (Read: where the jocks hang). Things might have changed, but if not, Cap & Gown grads might want to consider seeking out the elusive company of members of Colonial, the club that one tipster "legit forgot existed."

As for students who never joined an eating club, consider the fate of Will Harsh (son of eBay billionaire and California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman). Says a source:

"He's just a tool. He was banned from at least one eating club for calling a girl a racial slur. He would pride himself on having several ‘girlfriends’ at one time, and tried unsuccessfully to be a player. He was actually independent (not in an eating club) which I always assumed was because no one wanted him or he was banned. OH and I almost forgot about the time he refused to introduce a girlfriend to his family because she was Jewish, and didn’t meet his standards of intellect. He may have thrown in fat, too. I can’t remember. Really classy."

(Photos Courtesy of Flickr)