Union Oyster House

Ye Olde Union Oyster House, open to diners since 1826, is the oldest restaurant in the United States of America. It is located at 41-43 Union Street, Boston, Massachusetts. The building was listed as a National Historic Landmark on May 27, 2003.

The building itself was built prior to 1714, most likely in 1704. Before it became a restaurant, Hopestill Capen's dress goods business occupied the property. In 1771 printer Isaiah Thomas published his newspaper, The Massachusetts Spy, from the second floor. The restaurant originally opened as the Atwood & Bacon Oyster House on August 3, 1826.

With such a long and illustrious history, the Union Oyster House has had its share of famous people in history as diners, including the Kennedy clan and Daniel Webster. Perhaps most surprising, in 1796 Louis Philippe, king of France from 1830 to 1848, lived in exile on the second floor. He earned his living by teaching French to young women. America's first waitress, Rose Carey, worked there starting in the early 1920s. Her picture is on the wall on the stairway up to the second floor.

The food is traditional New England fare, including seafoods such as oysters, clams, and lobsters, as well as poultry, baked beans, steak and chops. The toothpick was said to have been popularized in America starting at the Oyster House.

Image gallery
  • Signage

  • Front of the Union Oyster House.

  • President John F. Kennedy's favorite booth at Union Oyster House, marked with a plaque.

  • Union Oyster House, 1945.

  • First floor plan and details.


2 photos

Building Activity

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