Long a haven for bohemians, beats, beatniks and punks, St. Marks Place, in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood, has been interchangeable with rock’n’roll for 50 years, name-dropped in dozens of songs ranging from Lou Reed and Tom Waits to The Dictators and The Replacements. Inevitably, every successive generation has claimed that “St. Marks is dead” — and that’s the apt title of an excellent history book (out now from W.W. Norton) by occasional Billboard contributor Ada Calhoun, who grew up on the street. Below are several (but by no means all) of the legendary music landmarks it features.
No. 4: Trash and Vaudeville Iconic punk boutique now in its 40th year, managed by Jimmy Webb, “the spirit animal of St. Marks Place,” according to Calhoun.
Nos. 19-23: Former site of The Dom, aka The New Mod-Dom, where The Velvet Underground headlined Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable shows in 1966 and 1967, and the upstairs ’60s nightclub Electric Circus.
No. 20: St. Mark’s Sounds The longest-running and most popular last-man-standing of the many record shops that once lined the street. It finally closed in October.
No. 33: Former site of Manic Panic, an influential punk-era boutique run by sisters Snooky and Tish Bellomo, who were in an early band with Blondie’s Deborah Harry and later their own Sic F—s. The store is now based in Queens.
No. 36: Gem Spa 90-year-old newsstand with hard-to-find overseas periodicals and stellar egg creams. It’s featured on the classic back cover of local boys the New York Dolls’ 1973 self-titled debut.
Nos. 96-98: Site of the buildings featured on the cover of Led Zeppelin’s seminal 1975 album Physical Graffiti. A tea shop called Physical Graffitea (groan!) now resides in the basement of No. 96. On the corner at No. 90 was St. Marks Bar and Grill, where comic Colin Quinn tended bar and The Rolling Stone shot their “Waiting on a Friend” video.
No. 83: Stromboli Pizza Punk hangout and site of famous Beastie Boys photos (plus a solid slice).
No. 122: Site of Sin-e, the tiny, now-closed venue that was host to Jeff Buckley, who recorded his debut EP there, and packed acoustic shows by Sinead O’Connor, P.J. Harvey and even U2 (Bono played piano).