St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America's Hippest Street: The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Street cover

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Title: St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America's Hippest Street: The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Street
Author: Ada Calhoun
Number of Pages: (382 pages)
Publication date: Monday November 2, 2015
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ASIN: B00TMA922G
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Book Review

A vibrant narrative history of three hallowed Manhattan blocks—the epicenter of American cool.


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 and dozens of rare images, 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 warzone, a hippie paradise, and a backdrop to the film Kids—but it has always been a place that outsiders call home. This idiosyncratic work offers a bold new perspective on gentrification, urban nostalgia, and the evolution of a community. 

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of November 2015: In this - sometimes history book, sometimes tour guide - Ada Calhoun crafts an account of New York's St. Marks Place in the most wonderful way- through the stories of the people who lived there. Journalist and local native, Calhoun knits together stories, essays, photos, and personal accounts to document a 400 year history of what is considered one of the most culturally significant streets in the United States. Whether you are a native of New York or a dreamer, this book will have you yearning for the streets of the city and the unique spirit of St. Marks. – Penny Mann

Product Description

A vibrant narrative history of three hallowed Manhattan blocks—the epicenter of American cool.


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 and dozens of rare images, 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 warzone, a hippie paradise, and a backdrop to the film Kids—but it has always been a place that outsiders call home. This idiosyncratic work offers a bold new perspective on gentrification, urban nostalgia, and the evolution of a community. 

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