New York

Midtown's ‘The Overlook' Bar Sports a Comic-Strip Wall Filled with Famous Funnies

The bar is home to a comic-strip wall that was created in 1976 when the bar was previously named Costello's

What to Know

  • The Overlook is an east Midtown Sports Bar nestled just blocks from Grand Central Terminal
  • The bar is home to a comic-strip wall that was created in 1976 when the bar was previously named Costello's
  • Several New York writers and cartoonists contributed to the original wall, as well as a newer version added in 2004.

Walking into the Overlook, a bar just steps from Grand Central, you might not think there's much that sets it apart from other midtown pubs.

You've got your regulars grabbing seats in the front, grabbing a round for happy hour. There'll be others playing darts to figure out who'd pick up the tab before heading back out into the elements of East 44th Street. 

But head back - and you'll discover -- this bar has a feature that sets it apart from pretty much every bar in New York City. 

A wall in the back features original dawings dozens of comic-strip and cartoon characters, from Fred Flintstone and Bullwinkle the Moose, to Spider-Man and Mad magazine's coverboy, Alfred E. Neuman --  along with dozens more. The wall was created by New York writers and cartoonists.

The sketches actually predate The Overlookand got its first ink when it was still named Costello's. That might ring a bell; Costellos was a known hub for New York literary figures, including Ernest Hemingway, until it closed back in 1973.

Mark Evangelista, co-owner of The Overlook, said he decided to do a little research after buying and opening the bar back in 2004. At first - he didn't know what he had on his hands. 

“Honestly, I would have kept the old name of Costello’s if I knew that,” Evangelista said. “Just for that rich history.”

The wall adds a unique historic element to The Overlook that draws a variety of viewers and questions – it’s often asked what will happen to the wall, or if anything new will ever be created.

“People know the wall and people inquire about what’s going on, and I find when everyone finds out the history of the place, they’re really intrigued by the old-school New York thing.”

An empty corner in the back of the venue became filled with drawings in 2004 when the old cartoonists who were still alive came back and drew a few extra pieces, as well as some additions by new illustrators. It’s just one way that the legacy of the original wall will live on.

Evangelista, and staff workers, remind patrons that these walls are not drunken doodles – the history can get missed at times, but he still has a fond appreciation for the historic significance of the wall in the back of his bar.

“I think they do [have a lot of value],” Evangelista said. “I think people would like to get eclectic and think about the past and be in rooms like this that these people were 100 years ago doing the same thing they’re doing, that’s pretty intriguing to me.”

He added, “Ernest Hemingway considered Costello’s one of his go-to bars in the world. He had Harry’s in Venice, he had Sloppy Joe’s in Key West, and he had Costello’s in New York City, and to sit at that bar sometimes and think that he sat there too, it’s an honor.”

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