A Literary Tour of the East Village

Nuyorican Poets Cafe signHannah Thonet Founded in 1973, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe regularly features spoken word events and open mic nights

The East Village has long been considered a Mecca for poets and writers. From bars to old tenement buildings, the historic neighborhood is brimming with former haunts of longtime residents like Allen Ginsberg and W.H. Auden. The crisp weather and changing leaves makes fall the perfect season to wander through the area on a romantic tour. So here’s a roundup of iconic East Village literary landmarks – why should the West Village get all the glory?

Ginsberg Residences

206 East Seventh Street (between Avenues B and C)
170 East Second Street (between Avenues A and B)

Arguably the neighborhood’s most well-known scribe, poet Allen Ginsberg called several apartments home throughout the East Village, including one we recently told you was on the market. In addition to the 12th Street apartment, he lived at 206 East Seventh Street from 1952 to 1953 where fellow Beat poet, William S. Burroughs, was a frequent visitor. Another one of his apartments was at 170 East Second Street. Ginsberg and his longtime partner, Peter Orlovsky, also a poet, lived there from 1958 to 1961.

Nuyorican Poets CafeSally Lauckner Nuyorican Poets Cafe, 236 East Third Street.

The Nuyorican Poets Cafe

236 East Third Street (between Avenues B and C)


Miguel Algarin founded The Nuyorican Poets Cafe back in 1973 and in 1989 the organization hosted one of the city’s first poetry slams. Today the Café regularly features spoken word events and open mic nights, in addition to live music, theater performances and visual art displays.

Frank O’Hara Residence

441 East Ninth Street (between Avenue A and First Avenue)

Frank O’Hara, writer and New York School poet, lived in a tenement at 441 East Ninth Street from 1959 to 1963. During this time he published two important volumes of poetry, “Second Avenue” and “Odes.” Today an upscale boutique, Cloak & Dagger, is housed at the apartment building’s base.

Sign on former Auden residence at 77 St Marks PlaceSally Lauckner W.H. Auden’s former home, 77 St. Marks Place.

St. Marks Place

101 St. Marks Place (between Avenue A and First Avenue)
77 St. Marks Place (between First and Second Avenues)
4 St. Marks Place (between Second Avenue and Bowery)

This colorful three-block street can lay claim to perhaps more famous former residents than any other stretch in the East Village. Married poets Ted Berrigan and Alice Notley lived at 101 St. Marks Place from the mid-1970s to 1983. Berrigan immortalized their address in “Last Poem,” writing “101 St. Mark’s Place, apt. 12A, NYC 10009/ New York. Friends appeared & disappeared, or wigged out/ Or stayed; inspiring strangers sadly died; everyone/ I ever knew aged tremendously, except me.” For close to 20 years, the celebrated and prolific British-American poet W.H. Auden put down roots at 77 St. Marks Place. While “The Last of the Mohicans” scribe James Fenimore Cooper laid his hat at 4 St. Marks Place in the 1830s. Today the longstanding Trash & Vaudeville store is located at that address.

Holiday Cocktail Lounge

75 St. Marks Place (between First and Second Avenues)

Drink where legends did at Holiday Cocktail Lounge, an old stomping ground for both Mr. Ginsberg and Mr. Auden (whose apartment was right next door.) The former speakeasy’s longtime owner Stefan Lutak passed away in 2009, but the bar retains its seedy appeal.

Gem SpaSally Lauckner Gem Spa, 131 Second Avenue.

Gem Spa

131 Second Avenue (between Second Avenue and Bowery)

A favorite spot for erstwhile East Village poets. Ginsberg referenced this old-school newspaper stand, still located at 131 Second Avenue in his 1969 “Rain-wet asphalt heat, garbage curbed cans overflowing” poem. Be sure to try the egg cream which Gem Spa’s yellow awning proclaims as “New York’s Best.”

McSorley’s Old Ale House

15 East Seventh Street (between Second Avenue and Bowery)


Dating back to the 19th century, McSorley’s Old Ale House is one of the oldest, continuously run bars in Manhattan. The popular pub was frequented by New York writers and provided inspiration for several works. And e. e. cummings penned a poem entitled “I was sitting in McSorley’s” in 1923, while in 1940, legendary journalist Joseph Mitchell published “The Old House at Home,” a New Yorker article profiling the bar and its patrons.

The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery

131 East 10th Street (between Second Avenue and Bowery)


The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery was founded by the poet Paul Blackburn in 1966. Over the years, writers as varied as Anne Waldman, Michael Ondaatje and Sam Shepard have participated in events. The Project now publishes a literary magazine and hosts poetry workshops and weekly readings.

This post has been changed to correct an error; an earlier version misstated when the author James Fenimore Cooper lived on St. Marks Place.

Literary Locales

A few of the most significant literary stops in the East Village.

View Literary Walking Tour in a larger map