We've been celebrating Bob Dylan's 71st birthday with a series of posts this week. As mercurial as Dylan has always been, there is one thing we do know: for as long as Dylan has been writing songs, he has been writing to, for and about New York City.

So far, we've listed our favorite Dylan covers, looked at the Freewheelin' album cover art, explored songs written about Robert Zimmerman, seen how Dylan has been depicted in comic books, explored his love affair with NYC, and listed the worst Dylan covers ever. Today we'll dive into our archives to take a tour of his New York life through video, songs, and story. And now, you can trace that story through a Dylan NYC walking tour.

"No Direction Home"—Crash Pads and Hangouts

  • In the early 60's Dylan crashed at Miki Isaacson's apartment at One Sheridan Square on the 4th floor. While staying there Dylan met Suze Rotolo, his future girlfriend, who lived with her mother one floor below. The pair later moved to an apartment at 161 West 4th Street in 1963.
  • Dylan and Rotolo would sit in the bar at White Horse Tavern and listen to Irish Rebel songs performed by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. The bar was also frequented by the poet Dylan Thomas, from whom Bob Zimmerman got his stage name.
  • Greenwich Village was a playground for musicians in the 60's and Dylan was no exception. On any given night he could be spotted at Cedar Tavern on University Place, The Bitter End on Bleecker Street, the Village Gate (where rumor has it he wrote "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" in the basement) or at Washington Square Park listening to music on a Sunday afternoon.
  • The Folklore Center on MacDougal Street was a meeting place for anyone involved in the emergent folk music scene. Dylan spent time here meeting other artists, listening to music and trying out instruments.
  • It's said that in April 1962 Dylan wrote "Blowin' In The Wind" one afternoon at The Commons, which was later renamed Fat Black Pussy Cat.







  • Theatre de Lys on Christopher Street—In Dylan's words, "In a few year's time, I'd write and sing songs like "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding),""Mr. Tambourine Man," "Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," "Who Killed Davey Moore," "Only a Pawn in Their Game," "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and some others like that. If I hadn't gone to the Theatre de Lys and heard the ballad "Pirate Jenny," it might not have dawned on me to write them, that songs like these could be written."
  • Dylan famously introduced The Beatles to marijuana in 1964 at the Delmonico Hotel on Park Avenue and hung out with Andy Warhol and Nico at the Decker Building in Union Square
  • As with many great artists of the time, Dylan stayed at the Chelsea Hotel for a time with his future wife Sara Lownds. This is where he wrote "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands" and "Visions of Johanna."
  • Dylan had been living in Woodstock, NY with his family when he bought a townhouse at 94 MacDougal Street in 1969. He would later remark that it was a "stupid thing to do" as he found his New York changed from his early days in the city.

"Talkin' New York"—New York City In Song:

  • Lots of NYC locales were memoralized in Dylan's lyrics, including Montague Street ("Tangled Up In Blue") and Red Hook ("Joey") in Brooklyn and Grand Street ("Stuck Inside A Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again") in Manhattan.
  • Dylan told off an ex-girlfriend in "Positively 4th Street" and the street was even renamed for the song years later.
  • The famous album cover for The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan shows Dylan and Suze Rotolo walking arm in arm down a snowy Jones Street in the Village.
  • Dylan recorded "Desolation Row," "Like A Rolling Stone" and the album Blood on the Tracks at Columbia's Studio A on Seventh Avenue in Midtown.

"Night After Night"—From Gigs To Greatness:

  • Cafe Wha?—Dylan played his first coffeehouse gig here, which would become his first regular gig when he came to New York City.
  • Dylan would perform in Gerde's Folk City storied "hootenannies," first starting on April 11, 1961. It was after a September 26th performance of that year that Dylan was famously reviewed by the New York Times [paywall].
  • Gaslight Cafe and Kettle of Fish - Dylan performed early gigs at the Gaslight Cafe and would hang with other performers at Kettle of Fish, the bar upstairs, after the show.
  • On November 4,1961 Dylan performed his first professional concert at the Carnegie Chapter Hall, a small stage that was part of the famous concert hall.


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