2. Allen Ginsberg’s St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery

St. Mark's in the Bowery

St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery in Greenwich Village was and is a cornerstone of New York City’s poetic landscape. Home to The Poetry Project, this church has boasted readings from countless illustrious literary figures, from Eileen Myles to John Ashbery. Perhaps its most famous reader was the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, who was instrumental in founding it in 1966. Later attendees would include Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol and others.

At the nearby Tompkins Square Park, Ginsberg would hang out with other Beat poets and figures such as Bob Dylan, often playing music, having discussions, and reading poetry late into the night.

Today, many of these writers are honored by plaques bearing their names outside the church and by trees planted in their honor. Readings and open mics still occur inside.

In the poem “My Sad Self,” Ginsberg described the unique energy he felt in New York, writing that “Sometimes when my eyes are red, I go up on top of the RCA Building, and gaze at my world, Manhattan—”. The RCA Building is now 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Ginsberg, along with William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and many others, created the Beat Generation in New York, a group of poets that sparked a nationwide counterculture movement which would eventually give birth to the hippie counterculture of the 1970s.

Other famous Ginsberg locales include the Columbia University Bookstore, where Ginsberg claimed to have experienced a hallucinatory revelation inspired by the words of William Blake, and his apartment at 437 E. 12th Street, where he lived until he died at age 70.