Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known by her stage name Lady Gaga, is a born and raised New Yorker. While she spent most of her early years growing up on the Upper West Side, she owes some of her breakout career moments to Greenwich Village.
Lady Gaga performs for a crowd during the Stonewall50 concert in New York, June 28, 2019.
New York University
Lady Gaga attended New York University for three semesters before dropping out at age 19 to pursue her music career full time. “I really felt New York was my teacher and that I needed to bite the bullet and go it alone,” she told Elle magazine regarding her decision to quit school. As an undergrad in 2005, Stefani Germanotta performed two original songs, “Captivated” and “Electric Kiss,” on stage at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, next to Washington Square Park. You can watch the performance here.
Cornelia Street Café
Since its debut in 1977, this Greenwich Village restaurant and bar was a place for artists, especially singer-songwriters, to showcase their work. Gaga waitressed at the café after dropping out of NYU and spent her tip money on flyers for her shows.
Unfortunately, Cornelia Street Café closed after 4o years this January. The café was a safe space for performers to develop their art and earn a living. Learn more about how Village Preservation is working to support small businesses and prevent great spaces from being lost here.
The Bitter End
Gaga performing on the patio of the Bitter End in 2016
The Bitter End began as a coffee shop opened by impresario Fred Weintraub, who was able to attract artists and inspire audiences of all ages because the shop didn’t have a liquor license. 147 Bleecker previously housed a performance space called the Cock and Bull. Over time, The Bitter End evolved into a launching pad for new talent. Before she was Gaga, Germanotta played at this Greenwich Village club during open-mic nights from 2005 through 2007. She did covers and original hits-to-be here, including one that would eventually become a top ten single: “Paparazzi.”
This Bitter End was honored this year at Village Preservation’s 2019 Village Awards. The establishment is also located within the South Village Historic District. Learn more about our work to protect the South Village here.
Electric Lady Studios
Gaga exiting the Electric Lady Studios
On August 26th, 1970, an iconic staple was introduced to the rock and roll scene on 8th Street in Greenwich Village. Created by Jimi Hendrix, Electric Lady Studios at 52 West 8th Street was built to provide Hendrix with an affordable studio space that would also meet his specific technical and aesthetic needs. Kicked off by an opening party near summer’s end, Electric Lady Studios was the site of the recording of some of the greatest rock, hip hop, and pop albums of the last four-plus decades.
Gaga recorded her fifth studio album Joanne here in 2016. Joanne was a very special album to Gaga as it commemorates her aunt Joanne Germanotta. Her aunt had a profound effect on Gaga’s life and career. Gaga wanted the album to be recorded in New York since it drew on themes of her family life and her past emotional trials. Some other notable artists that have created albums in this space include Adele, Lorde, Kayne West, and many more.
This retro-themed hangout at 231 E. 14th St. was another one of Gaga’s frequently visited spots before her first album, “The Fame,” pushed the singer into stardom. In a 2013 interview with the Villager, Gaga’s former DJ and friend Brendan Jay Sullivan revealed that the singer often performed at the East Village bar for years.
We’ve been partnering with Urban Archive to recreate historic photo locations. This black and white shot of 231 East 14th Street from our historic image archive was taken in 1995 by Carole Teller just before the Thomas Beauty Salon closed and re-opened in the spring of that same year as Beauty Bar. Thomas Beauty Salon had served the neighborhood for 40 years, and Beauty Bar founder Paul Devitt has maintained the storefront. Check out all of our historic images here.
While not quite in Greenwich Village, her one-bedroom apartment in a walk-up at 176 Stanton St. nearby was where the singer lived for a few years after dropping out of NYU. It was during this time that she put together songs from her first album, “The Fame.” Lady Gaga still enjoys roaming around her old stomping grounds. She has been spotted returning and taking pictures outside of her old apartment building on occasion.
Take a self-guided tour through the Village and environs through past these Gaga landmarks, or check out our NEW Interactive Map of the Greenwich Village Historic District. Among the tours on the map are sites where films and TV shows took, as well as a variety of tours about the history, architecture, and culture of Greenwich Village.