8th Street / St. Mark's Place (Manhattan)

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8th Street / St. Mark's Place
St. Marks Place.jpg
St. Mark's Place in 2010
Other name(s) St. Mark's Place
Maintained by NYCDOT
Length 1.3 mi[1][2] (2.1 km)
Location Manhattan, New York City
Postal code 10011, 10003, 10009
West end Sixth / Greenwich Avenues in West / Greenwich Villages
East end Avenue D in East Village
North 9th Street
South Waverly Place (6th Avenue to Broadway)
7th Street (Bowery to Avenue D)
Commissioned March 1811

8th Street is a street in the New York City borough of Manhattan that runs from Sixth Avenue to Third Avenue, and Avenue B to Avenue D; its addresses switch from West to East as it crosses Fifth Avenue. Between Third Avenue and Avenue A, it is named St. Mark's Place, named after the nearby St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery on 10th Street at Second Avenue. St. Mark's Place is considered a main cultural street for the East Village. Vehicular traffic runs east along both one-way streets. St. Mark's Place features a wide variety of retailers. Venerable institutions lining St. Mark's Place include Gem Spa, Yaffa Café, the St. Mark's Hotel, St. Mark's Comics, and Trash and Vaudeville. There are several open front markets that sell sunglasses, clothing and jewelry. There are also a number of restaurants and bars, as well as several record stores.


Early years[edit]

Wouter van Twiller, colonial governor of New Amsterdam, once owned a tobacco farm near 8th and Macdougal Streets. Such farms were located around the area until the 1830s.[3] Nearby, a Native American trail crossed the island via the right-of-ways of Greenwich Avenue, Astor Place, and Stuyvesant Street.[3]

Under the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, a city grid for much for Manhattan was defined. Eighth Street was to run from Sixth Avenue in the west to Third Avenue and the Bowery to the east. The area west of Sixth Avenue was already developed as Greenwich Village. Mercer, Greene, Wooster, Thompson Street, Sullivan Street, and Macdougal Streets, as well as Laurens Street (present-day LaGuardia Place), extended to Eighth Street until the 1820s, when the construction of Washington Square Park severed Laurens, Thompson, and Sullivan Streets south of 4th Street.[3]

19th century[edit]

After the Commissioners' Plan was laid out, property along the street's right of way quickly developed. By 1835, the New York University opened its first building, the Silver Center, along Eighth Street near the Washington Square Park. Row houses were also built on Eighth Street. The street ran between the Jefferson Market, built in 1832 at the west end, and the Tompkins Market, built in 1836, at the east end. These were factors in the street's commercialization in later years.[3]

Eighth Street was supposed to extend to a market place at Avenue C, but since that idea never came to fruition. Capitalizing on the high-class status of Bond, Bleecker, Great Jones, and Lafayette Streets in NoHo, developer Thomas E. Davis developed the east end of the street and renamed it "St. Mark's Place".[4] Davis built up St. Mark's Place between Third and Second Avenues between 1831 and 1832. Although the original plan was for Federal homes, only three such houses remained in 2014.[4]

Meanwhile, Eighth Street became home to a literary scene. At Astor Place and Eighth Street, the Astor Opera House was built by wealthy men and opened in 1847.[5] Publisher Evert Augustus Duyckinck founded a private library at his 50 East Eighth Street home. Ann Lynch started a famous literary salon at 116 Waverly Place and relocated to 37 West Eighth Street in 1848.[3] Around this time and up until the 1890s, Eighth Street was co-named Clinton Place in memory of politician DeWitt Clinton, whose widow lived along nearby University Place.[3]

In the 1850s, Eighth Street housed an educational scene as well. The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, a then-free institution for art, architecture and engineering education, was opened in 1858. The Century Club, an arts and letters association, relocated to 46 East Eighth Street around that time; the Bible House of the American Bible Society, was nearby. In addition, the Brevoort Hotel, as well as a marble mansion built by John Taylor Johnston, were erected at Fifth Avenue and Eighth Street.[3]

At the same time, German immigrants moved into the area around Tompkins Square Park. The area around St. Mark's Place was nicknamed Kleindeutschland, or "Little Germany", because of a huge influx of German immigrants in the 1840s and 1850s. Many of the homes turned into boarding houses, as the area had 50,000 residents but not a lot of real estate. Tenement housing was also built on St. Mark's Place.[4]

By the 1870s, apartments replaced stables and houses along the stretch of Eighth Street west of Macdougal Street. The elevated Third and Sixth Avenue Lines were also built during that time, with stops along the former at Ninth Street and along the latter at Eighth Street.[3][4]

Wanamaker Annex

At the southwest corner of Broadway and Eighth Street, the street's first commercial building was built. By the 1890s, buildings on the stretch from Bowery to Fifth Avenue were used for trade.[3] In 1904, the Wanamaker's Department Store opened at the former A.T. Stewart store along Broadway between 9th and 10th Streets, with an annex built at Eighth Street.[3]

20th century[edit]

In the early 1900s, Little Germany was shrinking. At the same time, Jews, Hungarians, Poles, Ukrainians, and Russians from Eastern Europe started moving in. At this point, St. Mark's Place was considered a part of the Lower East Side.[4]

On the western stretch of Eighth Street, an art scene was growing. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, Daniel Chester French, and other artists moved in the stables at Macdougal Alley at this time. By 1916, a studio complex for artists replaced most of these stables, making the areas around Eighth Street popular for bohemians. Whitney, a patron for other American painters, combined four houses on West Eighth Street houses into the Whitney Museum in 1931.[3]

The 1927 construction of the skyscraper at One Fifth Avenue, as well as the Eighth Street Playhouse movie theater, helped influence development on the Sixth Avenue end of the street, where construction of the IND Eighth Avenue Line had required destruction of many buildings there.[3] On an adjoining block, the Women's House of Detention was built in Jefferson Market complex in 1929–1932 and existed through the 1970s.[3]

In the 1930s, after Prohibition ended, West Eighth Street became an entertainment area. Around that time, the New York School movement for abstract expressionist painters was centered around Eighth Street, with many such painters moving to Eighth Street.[3]

After World War II, property along 8th Street was converted to apartment houses. The Rhinelander Estate, one of the major landowners on Eighth Street, erected a building between Washington Square North, Fifth Avenue, West Eighth Street, and the Whitney Museum site. Sailor's Snug Harbor, the other major land owner, demolished the blocks from Fifth Avenue to Broadway on the north side of Eighth and Ninth Streets, including the popular Brevoort Hotel. It replaced these blocks mainly with low-rise apartment buildings and stores, as well as two high-rises.[3] Around this time, West Eighth Street was also becoming the location of neighborhood commerce.[3]

After the elevateds were demolished in the 1940s and 1940s, the real estate industry tried to entice residents to the St. Mark's Place area, describing the neighborhood as "East Village". This area became home to an underground scene, and as it was far from public transportation, it became rundown. A 1965 Newsweek article described the East Village by telling readers to "head east from Greenwich Village, and when it starts to look squalid, around the Bowery and Third Avenue, you know you're there."[4]

In the 1960s, Macdougal and West Eighth Streets, as well as St. Mark's Place, became a popular area for hippies.[4] A women's clothing store, a pharmacy, and bookstores were replaced by fast food restaurants and other shops, directed toward the area's tourism base.[3] By 1968, St, Mark's Place became a stopping point for tour buses, which formerly skipped the area.[4]

In 1980, hot dog company Nathan's Famous moved into the location of a former bookstore on Eighth Street, to the anger of some Greenwich Village residents. However, other establishments, such as the B. Dalton bookstore, clothing stores, and shoe stores, started to attract tourists to the area.[3] By the 1990s, the areas around both Eighth Street and St. Mark's Place were becoming rapidly gentrified, with new buildings and establishments being developed along both streets.[4] The Village Alliance Business Improvement District was formed in 1993 to care for the area around Eighth Street.[3]

Notable buildings and sites[edit]

The entrance to 295 East 8th Street, with "Talmud Torah Darchei Noam" above the door
The original location of the Whitney Museum, three converted townhouses at 8–12 West 8th Street

8th Street[edit]


  • 127 Avenue B, also known as 295 East 8th Street, on Tompkins Square Park, was originally the Tompkins Square Lodging House for Boys and Industrial School. It was designed by Vaux & Radford and built in 1887. The building later became the Children's Aid Society Newsboy and Bootblacks Lodging House, and was briefly a synagogue, Talmud Torah Darchei Noam. The building was restored in 2006, and is now apartments.[6]
  • The stucco-faced apartment building at 4–26 East 8th Street between Fifth Avenue and University Place was built in 1834–36 and remodeled in 1916. It was designed by Harvey Wiley Corbett, and has been described as a "stage set, symbolic of the 'village' of a bohemian artist.'[7]
  • The residential apartment building at One Fifth Avenue, on the southeast corner of East 8th Street, was built in 1929 and was designed by Helme, Corbett & Harrison and Sugarman & Berger. The brown brick building features numerous step-backs, battlements, buttresses and other suggestions of medieval architecture.[7]
  • The full-block building on 8th Street bordered by Lafayette Street, 9th Street and Broadway, which carries the addresses 499 Lafayette Avenue and 770 Broadway, was built in 1902 to be the Annex for the giant John Wanamaker's Department Store located one block north between 9th and 10th Streets. The two buildings were connected by a skybridge over 9th Street which was dubbed the "Bridge of Progress".[8][9] The main store was destroyed by fire in 1955, but the Annex building remains, and currently houses a Kmart and a GAP retail stores, as well as offices.
  • Across the street, also between Lafayette Street and Broadway, 8th Street runs behind Clinton Hall at 13 Astor Place, also known as 21 Astor Place. This was once the site of the Astor Opera House outside of which the Astor Place Riot occurred. The Opera House opened in 1847 and closed in 1890 to be replaced by the current building, designed by George E. Harney, which became the site of the New York Mercantile Library. The library left the 11-story building in 1932, and it has since been a union headquarters (District 65 of the Distributive Workers of America), the Astor Place Hotel, and, as of 1995, condominiums.[10][11]


  • Marlton House at 3–5 West 8th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in Greenwich Village was built in 1900 as the Marlton Hotel, a single room occupancy (SRO) facility. It was notable for its bohemian clientele, but since 1987 it has been used as a dormitory for The New School.
  • The three former 1838 row houses at 8–12 West 8th Street between Fifth Avenue and Macdougal Street in Greenwich Village were converted in 1931 by Auguste L. Noel of Noel & Miller into the first home of the Whitney Museum of American Art, which sculptor and heiress Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney had established in 1929, after the Metropolitan Museum of Art rejected the donation of her extensive collection of contemporary and avant-garde artworks. In 1914, Whitney had started the Whitney Studio at 8 West 8th Street, just behind her own studio on MacDougal Alley. The museum was located here until 1954, when it moved uptown. The building is currently, along with 14 West 8th Street (built in 1900), the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture.[12]
Hamilton-Holly House (#4) was part of the same 1830's development as...
...the Daniel LeRoy House (#20); the developer was Thomas E. Davis.[13]
The German-American Shooting Society clubhouse at #12
Arlington Hall at #19–23, c.1892
Club 57 at #57
The "Physical Graffiti" buildings at #96 & #98

St. Mark's Place[edit]

Rent Is Too Damn High Party car parked on St Marks Place, where founder Jimmy McMillan lived until 2015[26]
  • #80 – Home of Leon Trotsky.[25] Theatre 80[27] saw the premiere of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown in 1967. Formerly the Jazz Gallery, site of the last performance by Lord Buckley. Now also the home of The Exhibition of the American Gangster, a museum of the American Gangster[28]
  • #85 – The 1871 birthplace of painter and caricaturist Lyonel Feininger.[29]
  • #94 – Home of UNDER St. Mark's Theater, an alternative performance venue and black box theater from the 1970s.[30]
  • #96 & #98 – The Led Zeppelin album Physical Graffiti features a front and back cover design that depicts these two buildings, which feature carved faces. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger are in front of same building in the Rolling Stones music video "Waiting on a Friend".[14]
  • #96 – Once the home of the Anarchist Switchboard, a 1980s punk activist group.
  • #101 – From the mid-1970s to 1983, the poets Ted Berrigan and Alice Notley, who were married to each other, lived here. In Berrigan's "The Last Poem", he wrote: "101 St. Mark's Place, apt. 12A, NYC 10009/ New York. Friends appeared & disappeared, or wigged out/ Or stayed; inspiring strangers sadly died; everyone/ I ever knew aged tremendously, except me."[24]
  • #102 – Home of independent filmmaker Scott Crary[31]
  • #103 – Home of singer/performer Klaus Nomi in the 1970s.
  • #104 – Location of the Notre Dame Convent School from 1989 to 2002[32] and is now the site of George Jackson Academy.[33]
  • #105 – Early 1860s home of Uriah P. Levy, the first Jewish commodore of the U.S. Navy and who was also known for purchasing Monticello to work toward its restoration and preservation.
  • #122 – This building used to be the location of Sin-é, a neighborhood café where Jeff Buckley performed a regular spot on Monday nights. Other musicians such as David Gray and Katell Keineg also performed there. Sin-é closed in the mid-1990s.[34]

Public transportation[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

Gem Spa has been the "corner store" for locals for approximately 80 years
Cherries, an adult store on St. Mark's Place whose signage was part of Saturday Night Live's opening montage. The store closed in late 2011.

St. Mark's Place appears in a variety of works in popular culture:


  • In the video for The Rolling Stones's "Waiting on a Friend", Mick Jagger and Peter Tosh are seen sitting on the stoop of 96–98 St. Mark's Place; Jagger later mentions 8th Street.
  • On the southwest corner of St. Mark's Place and Second Avenue, at 131 Second Avenue, is Gem Spa, a newspaper, magazine and tobacco store, which is known for its fountain egg creams.[35][36] On the back cover of the first, eponymous New York Dolls LP, the band is pictured standing in front of Gem Spa.
  • The narrator of Tom Paxton's "Talking Vietnam Potluck Blues", upon smelling marijuana on someone's breath during the Vietnam War remarks, "He smelled like midnight on St. Mark's Place."
  • In Andy Warhol's Trash, most of the street scenes of Joe Dallesandro were filmed on St Mark's Place.
  • The Holy Modal Rounders mentioned the street in their song "Bad Boy" in the lyric "he'll sell your heart on St. Mark's Place in glassine envelopes/he'll cut it with a pig's heart, and burn the chumps and dopes".
  • Earl Slick's 2003 solo album Zig-Zag features a song called "Saint Marks Place".
  • In Lou Reed's song "Sally Can't Dance", Sally walks down and lives on St. Mark's Place (in a rent controlled apartment).
  • In the King Missile song "Detachable Penis" the search for the missing member ends when the singer states, "Then, as I walked down Second Avenue towards St. Mark's Place / Where all those people sell used books and other junk on the street / I saw my penis lying on a blanket next to a broken toaster oven."
  • The album We Are Only Riders by The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project features a song called "Saint Marks Place", a duet with Lydia Lunch.
  • The music video for Billy Joel's 1986 song "A Matter of Trust" was shot in the Electric Circus building and features extensive footage of the block.
  • The Replacements' 1987 song "Alex Chilton" contains the line, "Checkin' his stash by the trash at St. Mark's Place."
  • Kirsty McGee's Frost album (2004) contains a song called "Saint Marks Place".
  • The Tom Waits song "Potter's Field" from his Foreign Affairs album contains the line "You'll learn why liquor makes a stool pigeon rat on every face that ever left his shadow down on St. Mark's Place."
  • The Rank and File song "I Went Walking", on their 1982 album Sundown, presents a cynical look at the St. Mark's Place of that time, containing the lines: "Have you ever seen a sheep in a porkpie hat? Ever see a lemming dressed all in black? Well, you might have been there, but I'll tell you just in case: Just take a walk down St. Mark's Place."
  • The Sharp Things album, Foxes and Hounds, features a song called "95 Saint Marks Place".
  • The They Might Be Giants song "On The Drag" includes the line "The allure of St. Mark's Place".
  • Joe Purdy's song "The City" has a verse, "When we left Brooklyn it was raining so hard. / Come up on 8th and the rain it cleared off. / We're just people watching on 3rd and St. Mark's."


  • In the double-episode season six opening episode of Mad Men, "The Doorway", Betty Francis goes to St. Mark's Place to find a girl who has run away after losing her parents, and in season 6, episode 4 ("To Have and To Hold", set in early 1968), Joan Harris and her hometown friend Kate visit the Electric Circus nightclub, located at 19–25 St. Marks Place, during a night out on the town.[37][38]
  • In the opening credits to Saturday Night Live (c. 2010), a shot of Cherries adult entertainment store's neon signage is featured in the opening credits.
  • In the season 3 Sex and the City episode "Hot Child In The City", Sarah Jessica Parker's character Carrie goes to get her shoe fixed on St. Mark's Place and ends up dating a man who works at a comic book store on the block. Part of the episode is filmed at the actual St. Mark's Comics.[39]
  • In the "The One with the Mugging" episode of Friends, it is revealed that Ross was mugged outside St. Marks Comics as a child. He claims to have been there to buy Spider-Man comic books, but his sister, Monica, intimates it was actually Wonder Woman.
  • The second season finale of the Comedy Central series Broad City is set around the main characters on a night out along St. Mark's Place, and the episode is titled "St. Mark's".

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Google (September 1, 2015). "8th Street (west of Tompkins Square Park)" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved September 1, 2015. 
  2. ^ Google (September 1, 2015). "8th Street (east of Tompkins Square Park)" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved September 1, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Harris, Luther. "Eighth Street History". villagealliance.org. Retrieved August 17, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Nevius, James (September 4, 2014). "The Strange History of the East Village's Most Famous Street". Curbed NY. Retrieved August 17, 2015. 
  5. ^ Ireland, Joseph Norton (1867). Records of the New York Stage: from 1750 to 1860 2. T. H. Morrell. p. 515. 
  6. ^ White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot with Leadon, Fran (2010). AIA Guide to New York City (5th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195383867. , p. 201
  7. ^ a b White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot with Leadon, Fran (2010). AIA Guide to New York City (5th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195383867. , p. 134
  8. ^ What to See in New York. John Wanamaker, New York. 1912. pp. 22, 31. Retrieved 27 April 2013. The Wanamaker business occupies two buildings—the fine old structure erected by A. T. Stewart, with its eight floors, and the new Wanamaker Building, occupying the entire block south of the Stewart Building, with sixteen floors. Combined area of the two buildings, about 32 acres. Two large tunnels under and a double-deck bridge over Ninth Street connect the two buildings. 
  9. ^ Durniak, Drew. "East 9th Street Then and now". The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. Retrieved 27 April 2013. By 1955, Wanamaker's sold its northern store property between East 9th and 10th Streets. Before the planned demolition of the building, a fire broke out in 1956 and gutted the structure. In its place was built a huge white-brick-clad residential building called Stewart House in 1960. 
  10. ^ White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot with Leadon, Fran (2010). AIA Guide to New York City (5th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195383867.  p. 157
  11. ^ "Clinton Hall" on Forgotten New York
  12. ^ New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Postal, Matthew A. (ed. and text); Dolkart, Andrew S. (text). (2009) Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.) New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1, p. 54
  13. ^ a b c d New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Postal, Matthew A. (ed. and text); Dolkart, Andrew S. (text). (2009) Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.) New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1, pp. 65-66
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "St, Mark's Place: Lot by Lot History" on the Lower East Side History Project website
  15. ^ a b "Hamilton Holly House" (PDF). Landmarks Preservation Commission. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  16. ^ Van Meter, William, "The Shop That Punk Built", The New York Times (May 9, 2013)
  17. ^ "Modern School Collection, Manuscript Collection 1055, Special Collections and University Archives". Rutgers University Libraries. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  18. ^ a b c d "8th Street" on New York Songlines. Accessed:2011-02-21
  19. ^ a b White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot (2000). AIA Guide to New York City (4th ed.). New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-8129-3107-5. 
  20. ^ Kleinfield, N. R. "On the Street of Dreams", The New York Times (November 22, 1992)
  21. ^ Bay, Cody. "Cinemode: Klute" On This Day in Fashion
  22. ^ "19–25 St. Mark's Place" on the Lower East Side History Project website
  23. ^ Dodero, Camille (2008-03-25). "CBGB St. Mark's Shop Closing at the End of June". Blogs.villagevoice.com. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  24. ^ a b c "A Literary Tour of the East Village" on the The Local East Village weblog of the The New York Times (October 19, 2010). Accessed: 2011-02-21
  25. ^ a b "77 St. Mark's Place" on the Lower East Side History Project website. Accessed:2011-02-21
  26. ^ http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/rent-damn-high-party-head-eviction-suit-nixed-article-1.2096701
  27. ^ "Welcome". Theatre 80. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  28. ^ "Museum of the American Gangster 80 St Marks PL NY, NY 10003 (212)228-5736 | An exploration into Organized Crime in America". Museumoftheamericangangster.org. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  29. ^ Hess, Hans (1961). Lyonel Feininger. New York: Abrams. p. 1. Retrieved 2015-01-11. 
  30. ^ "Info" on the UNDER St. Marks website. Accessed:2011-02-21
  31. ^ Staff. Notable Addresses. MobileReferences. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  32. ^ NDS. "School History". Notre Dame School website. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  33. ^ "About GJA" on the George Jackson Academy website
  34. ^ A Short History of Sin-e, accessed December 21, 2006
  35. ^ Berger, Joseph. "The Pizza Is Still Old World, Only Now the Old World Is Tibet", The New York Times (July 31, 2005). Quote: "For New Yorkers, this was the nectar of a Jewish neighborhood, and Gem Spa was the drink's sacred temple, certified as such by magazines and travel writers."
  36. ^ Berkon, Ben. "Gem Spa: Classic egg creams in New York" on NewYork.com
  37. ^ Matt Zoller Seitz (April 22, 2013). "Mad Men Recap: The Electric Circus". Vulture. 
  38. ^ Alex Ross (April 21, 2013). "The Rest is Noise: Electric Circus, Electric Ear". The New Yorker. 
  39. ^ "Tour the Top 25 'Sex and the City' Locations" on Fodors.com

Further reading

External links[edit]