Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Walk 5 miles in NYC Chelsea and West Village Artists and Writers' Homes and Haunts

Quote of the day:
Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time. ~Steven Wright

After our first walk around the East Village looking for homes of writers and visual artists, we continued our search, this time in Chelsea and the West Village.

We met on 14th Street and decided to look for Dada king, Marcel Duchamp's studio before heading north to 23rd Street, and then back down to the West Village. All together, we walked 5 miles, so our somewhat disorganized zigzagging ended up helping us to clock more on the old pedometer.

This is Duchamp's studio at 210 West 14th Street. He was an avid walker. Every day, he walked from here over the Brooklyn Bridge and back. He certainly got in his 10,000 steps a day!

This is the entrance to the building next door. We love this detail showing a writer hard at work.

We walked down 8th Avenue to the West Village where we found Willa Cather's former home on Bank Street between Greenwich Avenue and West 4th Street. Her house has been torn down, but ...

... someone was kind enough to mark her former home with a plaque. Click it to read.

Then we walked west on Bank Street to Hudson and 11th Street. Here we found the famous watering hole of many noted artists and writers, the White Horse Tavern. Dylan Thomas had his last pint here before he walked home to the Chelsea Hotel, where he died of alcohol poisoning the following morning.

North on Hudson to 23rd Street and 10th Avenue. Here in a penthouse apartment at London Terrace lived Susan Sontag, and in an ajoining apartment, her longtime partner, photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Next we walked east on 23rd Street to the Hotel Chelsea between 7th and 8th Avenues (222 West 23rd Street). The Chelsea was home to many artists and writers including Dylan Thomas, Brendan Behan, Thomas Wolfe, Henry Miller, and Shirley Clarke.

Here in the hotel lobby, even ordinary folk can sit and commune with great artists living and not...

The plaque outside the Hotel Chelsea. Click to enlarge to see the names of famous residents.

Is that Andy Warhol leaving the Chelsea? And here's a book of interest: Legends of the Chelsea Hotel: Living with Artists and Outlaws in New York

Next to the Chelsea is El Quixote restaurant where residents met and downed the drink of favor.

Just around the corner and a block east (between 6th and 7th Avenues), at 155 West 22nd Street, stood abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning's studio.

We left Chelsea, walking down 5th Avenue to West 10th Street where we found Emma Lazarus's home at 18 West 10th between 5th and 6th Avenues. Her words, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." are inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Just two doors east of Emma's house, at 14 West 10th Street, we found the building where Mark Twain had an apartment. Click plaque below for the spiel.
 Oops. We realized that we forgot quite a few artists on our list. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Walk 10,000 steps. NYC Union Square and East Village homes and haunts of cultural icons (celebrity map link here)

Quote of the Day:
Thoughts come clearly while one walks. ~Thomas Mann

The East Village

For our daily walking program, we thought it would be fun to walk around New York looking for the houses of writers and artists who once lived or worked here. Our pedometers clocked 16,000 steps on this walk, but we meandered and zig-zagged endlessly until we lost the daylight for photos in search of plaques for which we had only vague locations without the benefit of the map we linked for you above.

Summary of Artists and Writers included in our photographs:
Andy Warhol: his factories, homes and haunts, homes of Joe Papp, Peter Stuyvesant, Washington Irving, Allen Ginsberg, W.H. Auden, O'Henry.  Also noted are original locations of The Academy of Music and the Cedar Bar.
Recommended Book List below post.

Additional locations used in the 30s, 40s and 50s not photographed below: Arshile Gorky's studio: 36 Union Square; Barnett Newman's studio: 114 Fourth Ave; The Club (Abstract Expressionists): 39 East 8th Street; Studio 35: 35 East 8th Street; Jackson Pollack's apt and studio: 46 East 8th Street; Willem de Kooning's and Jack Tworkov's studio: 85 Fourth Ave.

We started here between University Place and 5th Avenue, at 40 West 9th Street, at the home of Joe Papp, founder and guiding light of the Public Theater.

This book shop, moved from St. Mark's Place to 9th Street and 3rd Avenue in the 1990s, was and still is an intellectual center.

The garden in the foreground is The George Hecht Viewing Garden, a triangle at the corner of 3rd Avenue, 9th Street and Stuyvesant Street, marks 2 very special things:

 1. The entrance to Peter Stuyvesant's bouwerie, Dutch for farm. (His manor and property extended up to what is now Chelsea.)

 2. See the compass in the garden? The beginning of Stuyvesant Street, THE ONLY TRUE EAST-WEST ORIENTED STREET IN NYC! Stuyvesant Street appears to be on a diagonal from 9th St. and 3rd Avenue to 10th St. and 2nd Ave. because the avenues of NY are aligned with the axis of Manhattan island which deviates from true north by 29 degrees! Follow it out to St. Mark's.

Saint Mark's Church in the Bowery, at 10th Street and Second Avenue, was the scene of poetry readings, plays and other literary events performed by artists such as Allen Ginsberg, Edna Saint Vincent Millay and Carl Sandburg. It remains a center for readings and performances.

Warning: from here, we really zigzag. You might scroll down and choose the spots you want and head right for them. 

Book Sellers' Row on 4th Avenue. Up until some time in the 1960s, book stores lined both sides of the Avenue and you could always find a bargain. Outside of the stores were stalls and stands piled with bargains reminiscent of the bouquinists along the Seine in Paris.

You see Trader Joe's here on East 14th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues, but back in the latter years of the 19th century, it was the site of The Academy of Music, the forerunner of the Metropolitan Opera. It was demolished in 1926, and on the same site, The Academy of Music was rebuilt as a venue for movies, and later, rock music performers, such as The Grateful Dead.

It's controversial, but the plaque at 128 East 17th Street claims that Washington Irving, author of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", and "Rip Van Winkle," lived here. There is no documentation to support the claim.

Pete's Tavern, "the tavern that O'Henry made famous," is located down the street from Washington Irving's house on Irving Place.

From Pete's Tavern, we walked down to Union Square, and found the site of pop king, Andy Warhol's second Factory at 33 Union Square West. He was shot here in 1968 by Valerie Salonis, would-be member of Warhol's circle. For lots more information about Andy Warhol, including over 1500 pieces of his work and up-to-date Warhol exhibition listings, check out Artsy.net.

Warhol's 3rd and final Factory stood here at 17th Street and Broadway on Union Square North.

On Park Avenue South, just north of 17th Street, stood Max's Kansas City, gathering place for Warhol's crowd in the 1960s.

Although this location was not part of this days walk, we thought it would round out the picture of Warhol's New York. He bought this townhouse at 57 East 66th Street for $310,000 in 1974. He lived here with his mother.

The Dom, at 21 St. Mark's Place, as it looks today. Dom is Polish for home, and was used by Polish immigrants and other ethnic groups for dances and wedding receptions. Warhol used this giant dance hall for his light shows and for showcasing performances by Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground in the 1960s.

From Union Square, we decided to head south to Tompkins Square Park in the East Village. Just east of the park is Allen Ginsberg's house. He lived on the fifth floor of this walk-up on East 7th Street between Avenues B and C from 1950 to 1996.

In our search for W. H. Auden's house, we came upon this hand print of Merna Loy in front of what had been St. Mark's Playhouse at St. Mark's Place and 1st Avenue. This former movie palace became the home of The Pearl Theater, and now is waiting for it's next occupant since The Pearl vacated and moved up to West 38th Street.

Down the street at 77 St. Mark's Place is Auden's house. He lived here with his partner, Chester Kalman, for a number of years.

On 7th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues is McSorley's Old Ale House, New York's oldest continuous bar. Over its 155-year history, it's been visited by many artists and writers. There may even be one or two in the waiting crowd. Abraham Lincoln reportedly had an ale here after his address at Cooper Union just around the corner.

This is Eighth Street and University Place, the first location of the Cedar Bar. Seen here were Jackson Pollock, Wilhem de Kooning and Mark Rothko among many other abstract expressionists.

Just up University Place is the final location of the Cedar Bar, the watering hole where the abstract expressionists drank, argued about art, punched one another out, and stole each other's women.

Well, we've done our five miles. Next, we'll be heading up to 23rd Street to the Hotel Chelsea, home of many artists and writers. See you soon.

Recommended Books

The Philosophy of Andy Warhol : (From A to B and Back Again)
Pop: The Genius of Andy Warhol
The Life & Times of Andy Warhol - Superstar
Andy Warhol Quotes Set (Eight Prints) by Andy Warhol 10"x10" 
POPism: The Warhol Sixties
Andy Warhol, Prince of Pop
The Andy Warhol Diaries
Uncle Andy's: A Faabbbulous Visit With Andy Warhol
Free for All: Joe Papp, The Public
Joe Papp: An American Life
Max's Kansas City: Art, Glamour, Rock and Roll
High on Rebellion: Inside the Underground at Max's Kansas City
Live at Max's Kansas City (Dlx)
New York in the 70s
McSorley's Wonderful Saloon
W. H. AudenW.H. Auden: Selected Poems
The Cambridge Companion to W. H. Auden
O. Henry Biography
 The Complete Tales Of Washington Irving
Washington Irving : History, Tales, and Sketches
Life of George Washington - Volume 01
The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg (Deluxe Two-Disc Set)
The Letters of Allen Ginsberg
American Scream: Allen Ginsberg's Howl
Peter Stuyvesant, the Last Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam
Early 1900s photo Peter Stuyvesant leading march
 The East Village Opera Company - DVD Sampler