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

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St. Mark's Place in 2010

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 & 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.

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.[1]
  • 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.'[2]
  • 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.[2]
  • 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".[3][4] 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.[5][6]


  • 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.[7]
Hamilton-Holly House (#4) was part of the same 1830's development as...
...the Daniel LeRoy House (#20); the developer was Thomas E. Davis.[8]
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]

  • #4 – The Hamilton-Holly House was built in 1831 by Thomas E. Davis and sold to Colonel Alexander Hamilton, the son of Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury, in 1833.[10] From 1843 to 1863 it was owned by Isaac C. Van Wyck, the candle and oil merchant. The building was owned from 1863 to 1903 by butter merchant John W. Miller, who added a two-story addition and a meeting hall on the first floor. From 1901 until 1952 the building was owned by the C. Meisel company, a manufacturer of musical instruments. Between 1955 and 1967 it housed the Tempo Playhouse, New Bowery Theatre, and Bridge Theatre, noted for experimental theater, music, dance, and independent film.[10] In 1964 it housed the New Bowery Theatre, a showcase for the American Theatre of Poets. From 1967 it housed Limbo, which in 1975 became Trash and Vaudeville, a punk clothing store.[9][11] The building was designated a New York City landmark in 2004.[8]
  • #6 – The Modern School, founded in 1901 in Barcelona by Francesco Ferrer, opened a New York branch here in January 1911. It was led by anarchists Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, who founded the Francisco Ferrer Association in 1910, "to perpetuate the work and memory of Francisco Ferrer", who had been executed in October 1909 for plotting to kill Alfonso XIII, the King of Spain, and masterminding the events of Tragic Week, a mass riot in and around Barcelona.[12] Beginning in 1913 the building housed the Saint Marks Russian and Turkish Baths. In 1979 the building was renovated and renamed the New Saint Marks Baths, a gay bath house.[13] The New Saint Marks Baths was closed by the New York City Department of Health in 1985, due to concerns of HIV transmission. The building subsequently housed a Kim's Video and Music location, until early 2009.
  • #8 – The New York Cooking School, founded by Juliet Corson in 1876, was the country's first cooking school. It figured prominently in the city's first known Mafia hit in Manhattan, the 1888 killing of Antonio Flaccomio, when it was La Triniria Italian Restaurant. The killer dined there with his victim, then stabbed him a few blocks away.[9]
  • #11 – Home to Shulamith Firestone, feminist, activist, author of "The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution" and "Airless Spaces", in the seventies and eighties. Home to Jonathan Lasker, American abstract painter.[citation needed]
  • #13 – Home to Lenny Bruce in the mid-1960s.[9] Sylvain Sylvain, guitarist for the New York Dolls, lived in the basement apartment in the mid 70s. The main floor and basement of the building were for many years St. Mark's Bookshop,[13] now around the corner, at 31 3rd Avenue.
  • #17 – Site of the first Hebrew-Christian Church in America, in 1885.[9]
  • #24 -This was the original location of the Limbo clothing boutique, which opened for business in 1965 and moved to #4 in 1967.[13]
  • #28 – From 1967–1971, this storefront housed Underground Uplift Unlimited (UUU), which created and sold some of the most noteworthy protest buttons and posters of era, including "Make Love Not War."[9]
  • #33 – Home to poet Anne Waldman in the late 1960s/mid-1970s; in 1977, the storefront had Manic Panic, the first U.S. boutique to sell punk rock attire, which developed its own line of make-up and vibrant hair dyes;[9] Manic Panic was visited by numerous performers, including David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Harry, and Joey Ramone.
  • #34 – Location of the East Side Bookstore, 1960s–1980s.
  • #94 – Home of UNDER St. Mark's Theater, an alternative performance venue and black box theater from the 1970s.[24]
  • #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."[19]
  • #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.[28]


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.[29][30] 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 premier of Mad Men, Betty Francis (née Hofstadt, formerly Draper) 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.[31][32]
  • 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.[33]
  • 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. ^ 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
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ "Clinton Hall" on Forgotten New York
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ 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, p.65-66
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ a b "Hamilton Holly House" (PDF). Landmarks Preservation Commission. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  11. ^ Van Meter, William "The Shop That Punk Built" New York Times (May 9, 2013)
  12. ^ "Modern School Collection, Manuscript Collection 1055, Special Collections and University Archives". Rutgers University Libraries. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c d "8th Street" on New York Songlines. Accessed:2011-02-21
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ Kleinfield, N. R. "On the Street of Dreams" New York Times (November 22, 1992)
  16. ^ Bay, Cody. "Cinemode: Klute" On This Day in Fashion
  17. ^ "19–25 St. Mark's Place" on the Lower East Side History Project website
  18. ^ Dodero, Camille (2008-03-25). "CBGB St. Mark's Shop Closing at the End of June". Blogs.villagevoice.com. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  19. ^ a b c "A Literary Tour of the East Village" on the The Local East Village weblog of the New York Times (October 19, 2010). Accessed:2011-02-21
  20. ^ a b "77 St. Mark's Place" on the Lower East Side History Project website. Accessed:2011-02-21
  21. ^ "Welcome". Theatre 80. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  22. ^ "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. 
  23. ^ Hess, Hans (1961). Lyonel Feininger. New York: Abrams. p. 1. Retrieved 2015-01-11. 
  24. ^ "Info" on the UNDER St. Marks website. Accessed:2011-02-21
  25. ^ Staff. Notable Addresses. MobileReferences. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  26. ^ NDS. "School History". Notre Dame School website. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  27. ^ "About GJA" on the George Jackson Academy website
  28. ^ A Short History of Sin-e, accessed December 21, 2006
  29. ^ Berger, Joseph. "The Pizza Is Still Old World, Only Now the Old World Is Tibet" 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."
  30. ^ Berkon, Ben. "Gem Spa: Classic egg creams in New York" on NewYork.com
  31. ^ Matt Zoller Seitz (April 22, 2013). "Mad Men Recap: The Electric Circus". Vulture. 
  32. ^ Alex Ross (April 21, 2013). "The Rest is Noise: Electric Circus, Electric Ear". The New Yorker. 
  33. ^ "Tour the Top 25 'Sex and the City' Locations" on Fodors.com

External links[edit]