10 Places in New York to Visit if You Love Bob Dylan
May 24 / Thursday
The Capitol Theatre would like to wish Bob Dylan a very happy 77th birthday! On September 4, 2012, Dylan's magic helped to set the tone for our newly renovated theater as our very first performer on the new stage. It was 5 years later that he would return to play our 500th show. New York has several of Dylan's musical landmarks, with a history full of legendary performances and stories. Here's some places you can visit to celebrate Dylan in our home state!
1. Jones Street
Bob Dylan’s second studio LP, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
, was the album that began to establish him as the next voice of his generation. The album contained a wide range of material that marked the real beginning of Dylan's incredible and powerful songwriting. 11 of the 13 songs are Dylan's original compositions, compared to his debut album Bob Dylan (released March 19, 1962) which included only 2 originals. The famous album cover featuring Dylan and then girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, nestled together on the streets of New York City was shot at the corner of Jones Street and West 4th Street in the West Village by CBS staff photographer Don Hunstein.
2. 94 MacDougal Street
After a long hiatus in Woodstock, NY with his wife and children, Dylan purchased and moved into this townhouse in 1969. This house was located just down the block from where Dylan got his start once he moved to the city. It was a surprising choice of home location though, considering that he was now world-famous and this was a very busy and popular street filled with many music venues and tourists. One notorious story that has been told is one where his neighbor continued to bother the Dylans by constantly invading their privacy and bringing people to see the house. This ended up being a main factor in why Dylan moved of that house and went to Malibu, California.
3. Cafe Wha?, 115 MacDougal Street
This still-operating cafe has an incredibly rich history of artists that had a chance to start their careers here. The long and impressive list includes people like Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen and of course, Bob Dylan. Dylan performed here on his first night in New York City and played a short set of Woody Guthrie songs. This was symbolic of his reasoning for being in the city, which was to find and meet Guthrie who at the time was hospitalized due to complications with Huntington’s disease. That first night he performed there, he was also offered a chance to play harmonica with singer Fred Neil during his sets, and almost every time Dylan played there following that day, he was backing Neil.
4. The Bitter End, 147 Bleecker Street
Every Tuesday night this intimate nightclub hosted “hootenannies” where new artists took the stage and got to share their music with the crowd. Similar to the Cafe Wha?, The Bitter End also has an extensive list of artists who performed there when they were just breaking into the business. This list includes people such as Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, Kenny Rogers and Neil Diamond, as well as Bob Dylan. Dylan frequented this location, playing pool, watching performances, and occasionally performing in the early 60’s. He later returned in 1975 to perform a show during the start of his Rolling Thunder Revue tour.
5. Fat Black Pussycat, 105 MacDougal Street
Now a Mexican restaurant called Panchito’s, this place hosted Bob Dylan on multiple occasions. Back in Dylan’s early days in New York City, this location was a cafe that held poetry readings, folk music and jazz performances. Sometimes Dylan would perform, but the most important thing to come out of Dylan frequenting here was his huge hit “Blowin’ In The Wind.” He famously penned this song while in this cafe. Although the Fat Black Pussycat is now history, you can still visit the location and see the original, fading sign for it above the new Panchito’s awning.
6. Village Gate, 158 Bleecker Street
Opened in 1958 under the name Village Theater, this nightclub hosted some of the most controversial, yet extremely talented names in jazz, theater, comedy, and folk music. Some notable people that performed during its early days were Nina Simone, John Coltrane and Aretha Franklin, who made her first ever New York appearance there. In 1962, Dylan was staying with his friend Chip Monck, who lived in the basement of this building. It was at the Village Gate that Dylan wrote his hit “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, which was released on May 27th, 1963. Incidentally, Monck also went on to fame and success along with Dylan.
7. The Folklore Center, 110 MacDougal Street
This bookstore and music shop, owned by a popular figure in the world of folk music named Izzy Young, became the center of the folk music scene in Greenwich Village. A young Bob Dylan used to sit in the back and listen to the records the store had. Young also booked Dylan’s first concert in New York City at the Carnegie Chapter Hall for November 4th, 1961. Even though it is widely unknown to the public, Dylan wrote a song as a tribute to the store and Young called “Talking Folklore Center”. The Folklore Center is also the place where he met Dave Van Ronk, the man who introduced him into the Greenwich Village music scene.
8. 161 West Fourth Street
After crashing on couches when he found the time to sleep, Dylan found his first apartment at 161 West Fourth Street, which he and his girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, moved into in December 1961. This was nearly one year after his arrival. The couple paid $60 a month rent. The structure, built in 1910, sold for $6 million in 2015.
9. Room 305 in Washington Square Hotel (formerly the Hotel Earle)
Washington Square Hotel was Dylan’s home when he initially arrived in New York in 1961. Bob Dylan took up residence at the Washington Square Hotel twice. Once, in 1961 and again in 1964 when he shared room 305 with Joan Baez. Baez sings the lyrics, "Now you’re smiling out the window of that crummy hotel over Washington Square," in her song "Diamonds and Rust" remembering the time she spent with Dylan.
10. Big Pink
This West Saugerties, New York house served as the setting for Bob Dylan and the Band's Basement Tapes sessions in 1967. Dylan and the musicians who would later become The Band recorded a large number of cover songs and original Dylan material in the basement of the house.
11. One more for good luck: The Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, New York
On September 4, 2012, Dylan christened our newly renovated theater. Almost 5 years later, Dylan returned to The Cap and performed 3 nights, marking our 500th show on June 15, 2017.