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The Historic South Village, home of the Beats and Bob Dylan

Twelve years ago tomorrow, GVSHP began an initiative to secure historic district designation for the South Village. It’s hard to believe that the original 1969 Greenwich Village Historic District did not include some of these best-known and best-loved locations.

Fortunately, the LPC agreed to designate some of the area we proposed, but the remaining area of MacDougal, Sullivan, and Thompson Streets south of Houston Street, is still vulnerable and we are working hard to preserve it. We are especially concerned about the lack of protection in this part of the South Village as other nearby area developments seem to be moving forward. (Read more here.) Part of the reason we are concerned about this neighborhood is the historic architecture you find, but also the rich cultural history that makes this neighborhood world-famous.

Cafe Wha? on MacDougal Street - Bob Dylan performed here in the 1960s.
Cafe Wha? on MacDougal Street – Bob Dylan performed here in the 1960s.

Tim McDarrah, son of the late Village Voice photographer Fred McDarrah, has created a 90-minute walking tour called “The Beats and Bob (Dylan)” for his company, Save the Village Tours. The tour takes you to places “…where Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Peter Orlovsky, Diane DiPrima, Gregory Corso and William S. Burroughs made literary history.”

Dylan's second album, cover photo shot on Jones Street
Dylan’s second album, cover photo with Suze Rotolo shot on Jones Street

Bob Dylan, growing up in Minnesota, was a big fan of the Beats. When he moved to the Village in 1961, he hoped to play in some of the clubs and become a recording artist as well. But he also wanted to get close to some of his heroes, the Beat writers, and in 1963 he met Allen Ginsburg, and the two became lifelong friends.

Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, et al [photo source: nytimes.com]
Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, et al
[photo source: nytimes.com]
Tim’s tour takes you to some of the locations where Dylan and the Beat writers used to write, perform, eat, drink, and live. The Village in the 1960s was a hotbed of creativity and changing times, and hearing Tim’s stories about his father’s photographic documentation really bring everything to life. He also gives each attendee a package of postcards made from his father’s photos that correspond to stops on the tour.

To read more about the South Village, click here and here.

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