Greenwich Village - Writers Past & Present

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by sboourns on September 24, 2002

This was the best value for money tour I have ever done. I did this walking tour with my grandparents when they came to visit. It was brilliant.

Historian John Hamilton and poet Edward Kearon Lorenzo take you on a tour of historic homes and watering holes of the Village's best known artists. The tour starts in Washington Square Park.

The guides point out the Federation style houses and tell us who lives, and has lived, at some of the addresses. John showed us where the Forbes Museum is and suggested that it is one of the city’s best kept, and cheapest, secrets. They showed us where Charles Lindberg lived and told us of how he was awarded $25k for being the first to cross the Atlantic. They spoke of Mark Twain, Mable Dodge and Edith Wharton. They showed us the site of the accidental bomb explosion in 1970 by the "Weathermen" (at the time, one of our guides, Ed, happened to be sitting in a dentist’s chair in a building directly opposite); and where Katherine Boudin was said to have sought refuge. The house was rebuilt in 1978 and is the only building allowed to face diagonally to the street. There is a teddy bear in the window whose outfit changes daily.

John pointed out the Acesion Parish House where you can hear Shakespeare readings every Monday night. They showed us where Emma Lazarus lived, they told us what pineapples meant at the entrance of people’s homes. They explained the difference between wrought iron and cast iron. They showed us the former site of the women’s penitentiary and where Mae West was tried for her Broadway show "Sex". They explained the story of Houdini and the canary and they explained why 6th Avenue was called "Avenue of the Americas". They pointed out where e.e. cummings lived and showed us old incinerators. We learnt of the fate of Edgar Allen Poe’s former morphine dispensary and how Billie Holliday managed to perform without a cabaret license.

Ed told us philanthropic stories of Armand Hammer and incredible stories of Frank Stella. He told us about chiclets in the subway and an Al Pacino movie called "Chinese Coffee". He spoke of Woody Allen, Jimmy Gambino and John’s Pizza.

They showed us where Dylan wrote "Positively W.4th St, and where the last person was executed. They showed us where we could swim in an Olympic sized swimming pool, where we could listen to poetry, and where we could drink a pint of homebrew.

I have not even begun to mention what we gleaned on that tour. These two guides are brilliant. They are enthusiastic, knowledgeable and genuine and I highly highly recommend this walking tour to both locals and visitors alike. Finally, let it be known, that I am not related to, or was friendly with, either of these two folks.

Greenwich Village
Houston To 14th Street
New York, New York, 10014

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