Of course, the sentimentalists are right: I did miss a lot. My parents have lived in their top-floor walk-up on St. Marks Place since 1973. By the time I was born, in 1976, many of the street’s most defining eras had passed. Gone were the days of Thelonious Monk playing the Five Spot jazz club, Andy Warhol hosting the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, and the New York Dolls ambling down the street in hot pants. The poet W. H. Auden, who once lived at No. 77 and promenaded to St. Mark’s Church each Sunday wearing his slippers, died in Vienna the same week my parents moved onto his old block.
But the history of St. Marks Place is more complex than even many of its cheerleaders realize.
I remember the first time I went into The City (what everyone in the other four boroughs calls Manhattan) by myself. I headed straight for St. Mark’s.