From Washington Irving to Jack Kerouac, New York City has inspired writers for centuries. Taverns, parks, hotels- every surface of New York City has seen a writer. Many of the places that were occupied by any literary genius are still around today and allow you to step back in time to your favorite author's era. Peruse our list of the Top Literary Sites of New York for some must-see literary stops on your next trip to the Big Apple.
The Algonquin Hotel
Many of the early 20th century’s best minds congregated at the elegant Algonquin Hotel for weekly meetings of the Algonquin Round Table from 1919 to 1929. Also know as the “Vicious Circle” for the relentless and cutting wit of its members, the Table was headed up by trouble writer Dorothy Parker, and included such luminaries as Harold Ross, George S. Kaufman, Harpo Marx and Edna Ferber.
This bookish behemoth boasts being one of the largest used bookstores in the world. A good place to start any literary journey, The Strand offers many used, rare, and out-of-print books. Browsing may get you better results than searching for a specific title, the store states it contains over 18 miles of books. The Strand opened in the late 1800’s and has been in its current location in the East Village since the 1950’s.
The Chelsea Hotel, as it’s often known, is a literary, musical, artistic and all-around cultural icon. While it’s no longer open to visitors, the hotel’s worth a stop just for a picture of its familiar edifice, and a chance to imagine the bygone days when writers like Arthur C. Clarke and Jack Kerouac stayed in the hotel while writing the seminal works of their career.
Washington Square Park
Situated in the center of New York University, Washington Square Park has been at the heart of many legendary literary movements. 19th century greats like Robert Louis Stevenson and Mark Twain frequented the park, as did high-society types like Henry James and Edith Wharton, many decades before Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg and the Beat writers made the park one of their regular hangouts.
While it’s no longer open, a visit to the door of this historic speakeasy is a West-Village must: the term “86 it” came from the bar’s address, still emblazoned on its door at 86 Bedford Street. Chumley’s was once a wildly popular speakeasy, and a magnet for literary greats like Theodore Dreiser, Edna St. Vincent Milly and John Steinbeck.
The White Horse Tavern
This Greenwich Village pub was another magnet for the 1950s bohemian culture that spawned some of the century’s best poets and novelists. Names like Norman Mailer, James Baldwin and Hunter S. Thompson frequented the bar, which is perhaps most famous as the place where poet Dylan Thomas drank before returning home ill, and dying in his bed.
The Minetta Tavern has become a Village institution, occupying 113 MacDougal Street since 1937. Enjoy a drink here and look around - these tables were once frequented by writers like Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Eugene O’Neill, e.e. cummings, Dylan Thomas and Joe Gould.
New York Public Library
Located on the idyllic midtown Bryant Park
, the New York Public Library is one of the city’s great institutions, a treasure trove of historic manuscripts, artifacts and editions from some of the greatest writers of all time. While it’s exhibitions vary, among the collections you’ll find journals from luminaries like Virginia Woolf and Jack Kerouac among other treasures like e.e. cummings’ typewriter and a lock of Mary Shelley’s hair. Oh, it’s also a great place to take a break and catch up on some reading - don’t miss the massive and splendid Rose Reading Room, with its incredible view over Bryant Park.
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Posted by jhartmann13 (JJ Hartmann)