St. Marks Place in New York City has spawned countless artistic and political movements. Here Frank O'Hara caroused, Emma Goldman plotted, and the Velvet Underground wailed. But every generation of miscreant denizens believes that their era, and no other, marked the street's apex.
This idiosyncratic work of reportage tells the many-layered history of the street - from its beginnings as colonial Dutch director-general Peter Stuyvesant's pear orchard to today's hipster playground - organized around those pivotal moments when critics declared "St. Marks is dead". In a narrative enriched by hundreds of interviews, St. Marks native Ada Calhoun profiles iconic characters, from W. H. Auden to Abbie Hoffman, from Keith Haring to the Beastie Boys, among many others. She argues that St. Marks has variously been an elite address, an immigrants' haven, a Mafia war zone, and a hippie paradise, but it has always been a place that outsiders call home.
"Rather than a nostalgic lament, this revelatory book celebrates an indelible cultural imprint." (Kirkus)
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Wonderful history of a wonderful place.
I loved peeling back the layers of my favorite part of Manhattan. The history of St. Marks Church was especially interesting.
Jimmy Webb from Trash and Vaudeville, who I often saw around the neighborhood while working in a bakery on Second Avenue. What a character! Also much respect to the New York Dolls:)
This isn't fiction and had no dialogue, so this question isn't really relevant.
Emma Goldman and her story were especially moving and interesting.
The narrator mispronounced many place names in a way that would make any New Yorker cringe. Proper script prep and research would have done true justice to this book. We don't have any streets named after towns in Texas in the city, FYI.
Interesting history of a storied place.
- Judith K