Port Authority Bus Terminal, New York City

July 3, 1967 (Monday).
A hot summer afternoon just a day before Independence Day. 20 years old girl from Southern New Jersey landed at a bus terminal in New York City from Philadelphia by herself.

It wasn’t like she arrived in a big city from a small town near Philadelphia with her big dream and organized plan. Rather it was spontaneous. In fact, she didn’t know her cash was shorter than one-way ticket price to New York City until arriving at a bus depot in Philadelphia. 2 hours bus trip shouldn’t be expensive even 45 years ago, same day purchase price is less than $20 in 2016. Also, she hoped she would catch her old friends in Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, but the reality was she couldn’t find anyone so she was forced to sleep on the street from day one.

But luck didn’t throw her out. At the bus terminal in Philadelphia, she found a lost purse with $32 cash (almost a week worth of minimum wage at that time) at the inside of phone booth and purchased a ticket with that money. And not only she managed to survive on New York City streets, she climbed to be one of the best musicians who merged punk and poet into a form of art. Recently, the singer made another history, singing at Nobel Prize dedicated to her hero, Bob Dylan, for the first time as a punk singer. But being punk pioneer might not be her intention when she arrived in New York City although she loved music and being creative. She just wanted to escape from the same old small town life and find herself. As she said in her documentary movie, “Dream of Life”, she didn’t want to spend her life normal in a small simple town of South Jersey.

Chicago where Patti Smith was born.
Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia Museum of Art where Patti Smith got a big artistic influence when she was a kid and the famous Rocky statue.

Patricia Lee Smith, later much known to the world as Patti Smith. Born in Chicago on December 30, 1946, her family moved to Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia when she was 3 years old, then settled in Woodbury Gardens, NJ, about 13 miles south of Philadelphia. Growing up in a loving working-class family, she was interested in various ways of expression since her childhood. Patti liked literature at her early age, and Patti’s parents were supportive of her interest. Also, visiting the Museum of Art in Philadelphia with her family gave her a strong excitement and influence.
And music. Little Richard kicked into her musical interest when she was 7 years old. With his dynamic music, strong persona, and gender crossover fashion, Little Richard immediately caught Patti’s ears and eyes. Patti developed her love of music in her high school years. Patti attended a Motown event with artists such as Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gay in Philadelphia Airport drive-in. Her first rock concert experience was Rolling Stone’s concert at Newark Symphony Hall in Newark, NJ when she was 18.

Patti experienced several adult realities soon after high school. She experienced teenage pregnancy and that resulted in adoption and dropping out of a college in New Jersey. She supported her life by working at a textbook factory with cheap wage but poor working condition and shady relations with co-workers weren’t easy. She had a fantasy to be an artist but making her dream come true was difficult in a conservative small town. So Patti gave her a tryout when she was laid off from the factory and decided to move to New York City to pursue her dream. A small summer dream of a 20 years old girl in ’67.

Port Authority Bus Terminal South Wing. This bus terminal consists of South Wing and North Wing today, but only South Wing existed in 1967 (North Wing was built in 1979).
Busy South Wing basement where buses mainly arrive from Northeast cities such as Philadelphia, Upstate New York, and Canada. Some Greyhound Bus use this terminal but the majorities are Trailways and other local mid-distance bus companies. Upper floors are largely used by New Jersey Transit. Patti Smith might arrive this floor when she came from Southern Jersey.
In front of Port Authority was changed dramatically after ultra-modern New York Times Building and 11 Times Square were built after entering the 21st century.
Across the terminal used to look like this. Back in the day, 24 hours porno stores and suspicious souvenir stores mainly occupied those buildings. Now those stores were gone.

Port Authority Bus Terminal is located in the middle of Times Square at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue. There are two new skyscrapers of The New York Times Building and 11 Times Square across the bus terminal today, but the sites were the alley of 24 hours porno stores, notorious souvenir shops targeting tourists to rip off, and large parking lot until the beginning of 21st Century. The atmosphere was filthy in both outside world and the inside of terminal until recent.

I am not sure if Patti Smith was excited about her arrival in a big city by looking at outside. She wrote in her highly praised biography, Just Kids, that it wasn’t her first time to visit New York City.
Patti was about to visit her hometown friends who studied at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn without an appointment. She took a subway from the underground passage of Port Authority Bus Terminal (at that time A and E lines) to Hoyt-Schermerhorn Streets station in downtown Brooklyn. She recalled she changed train at Jay Street-Borough Hall Station on her biography, but it is a question why she transferred at one station away from Hoyt-Schermerhorn though all trains stopped at both stations in 1967 (even today).

The basement of Port Authority has a direct connection with 42nd Street subway station.
42nd Street Station is the heart of New York City subway. Always busy.
Downtown A train at 42nd Street. Patti Smith took the subway to Brooklyn from here.
Jay Street-Metro Tech Station in downtown Brooklyn was “Jay Street-Borough Hall” station back in 1967. Originally a transfer station of A. C and F trains, now R train is added. This is the Brooklyn-bound train’s platform of A, C, and F. According to “Just Kids”, Patti Smith wrote she changed subway at this station after arriving Port Authority although A train would go straight to her destination without changing. Did she take F train from 42nd Street and 6th Avenue after a brief walk?
Hoyt-Schermerhorn Street Station in downtown Brooklyn and A train from Manhattan. Patti Smith got off at the station and walked to Pratt Institute. Because G train is available on the platform, she could take another subway to a nearby station from Pratt Institutes if she didn’t want to take 20 minutes walk.

Patti found out her friends moved to a different apartment when she arrived Pratt Institutes, but she met the ex-roommate of her friends and that boy took her to a new apartment of her friends on Clinton Avenue. That was a brief encounter with him, and he went back to his room after showing Patti her friends’ new place although Patti’s high school friends weren’t in the room. What both of them didn’t know was that was actually a life-changing moment for them.
That boy was Robert Mapplethorpe, who would become Patti’s life-long friend, mentor, supporter, a brief boyfriend, and a popular photographer who brought his hardcore S&M and pornographic photos into art. When they met, Robert was a student at Pratt originally from Long Island, NY.

Pratt Institute in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Established in 1887, the school has been an elite school very strong in design, architecture, and art education.
One of the main dormitories in Pratt Institute. Though the exact place where Patti Smith initially met Robert Mapplethorpe was unknown, this brownstone building could be the place.
The campus tells Pratt is an art college. There are many wonderful arts throughout the campus.
Clinton Avenue where Robert Mapplethorpe took Patti Smith after she found out her hometown friend moved. Cozy Clinton Hill neighborhood has many luxurious brownstones today.

This was how Patti Smith spent her first few weeks in New York City: homeless. Because her friends didn’t come back, Patti was forced to stay on the apartment stoop on her first night. After the second day, she stayed in shelters, strangers’ places, and Central Park. And she saw fascinating part of the city never sleep such as 5th Avenue and Metropolitan Opera. She also made massive job search along 5th Avenue.

Manhattan skyline from Central Park. Patti didn’t see New York skyscrapers as a symbol of corporate America but “spirit of America” (Smith, 2010, p.24) soon after arriving from her hometown.
Alice in Wonderland in Central Park. Patti Smith recalled she slept around this statue.
Paris Theater and famous Plaza Hotel. Paris Theater is a small movie theater normally features artistic foreign movies. The only one existing single-screen movie theater in NYC after the closure of Ziegfeld Theater has a long history since 1948. Patti strolled around here and see the line of glamorous crowds.
Metropolitan Opera
Fifth Avenue. The high-end shopping center of New York City is mainly dominated by world’s luxury brands though casual brands also have stores.
St. Patrick Church on Fifth Avenue. Probably Patti Smith didn’t expect to sing her very famous line “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine” (“Gloria” from her first album) 8 years later when she saw this famous catholic church.

Patti Smith stopped over at Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. Patti felt free spirit she hadn’t experienced before when she visited that park. Probably that was her New York feeling.

Washington Square Park. Patti Smith would take a cover photo for her first album at the right building behind the arch in 1975.
(Top) Washington Square Park facing to the south. Beyond the park is New York University. (Bottom) A guitarist got serious little fans on the real front row at Washington Square Park. The park is where New Yorkers and tourists enjoy street musicians and performers.

Freedom in Washington Square Park is nothing changed today. The park always has New Yorkers and tourists enjoy feeling temporary freedom. It’s definitely a different atmosphere with other NYC parks. People don’t know what exactly makes them feel freedom in the small park with famous marble arch and fountain. It’s not only by young students of New York University surrounds the park, but free spirit indeed exists here. It’s a unique vibe of the park.
At Washington Square Park, people express themselves freely with guitars, singing, dancing, performance, poetry reading, etc. And like Union Square Park, this is the park sometimes occur movements. Recently, Madonna held a surprise acoustic gig to support Hillary Clinton a day before the election day. Chess players and many dogs taking a walk and enjoying at dog runs, they are also nothing changed since the 1960s as well.

Patti sometimes took round trips to sleep inside of F train between West 4th Street near Washington Square Park and Coney Island on several nights. She also enjoyed looking at basketball shoots at a court near Houston Street.

West 4th Street Station is a major subway hub with A, B. C, D, E, F, and M trains.
The stairs to the ground are the stairways to the excitement at West 4th Street Station, day or night. Being in the center of Greenwich Village, there are plenty of entertainments around the station ranging from popular clubs to music venues.
This is a basketball court in the corner of Houston Street and 6th Avenue. A local kid was practicing shots alone.
But the more popular court is this in front of West 4th Street Station, not far from Houston Street. This basketball court was filmed on many movies and drama. Many walkers stop over and watch the heat up games around the fences in the summer.

Houston Street basketball court was where Patti met with a homeless man, named Saint, who temporarily rescued her. After a brief chat, “Saint” stopped over at a deli on MacDougal Street to grab a free lettuce sandwich at a deli and shared with hungry Patti at Washington Square Park. They hanged around at the park several days. She also had a memory to dine at nearby Waverly Restaurant with toast, egg, and coffee for 50 cents she picked up on the street. Eventually, “Saint” suddenly disappeared without notice but that was her first brief comfort with a New Yorker.

MacDougal Street stretches from Washington Square Park to Houston Street in SoHo. Patti Smith later lived on the street (see Chapter 2). The street is full of many popular restaurants and bars targeting young crowds.
Waverly Restaurant has been a Village icon in front of Waverly Place exit of West 4th Street Station. While many restaurants come and go by tough competition and steep rent hike, surprisingly this basic diner still exists strong on the same place. As I know, all exterior, store signs, and interior haven’t changed in this 25 years! See more about a dining experience at later this chapter.

Although her first situation in the expensive New York City without money was far from easy and fun, Patti felt comfortable by the free spirit in the big city, particularly East Village. She felt she could be herself without attention from someone else, though she felt she didn’t match with hippies lived in the area, and decided to survive in the city for a while.

Patti finally started a cashier job at Brentano’s, a defunct bookstore in Rockefeller Center after quickly failed from a waitress job at an Italian restaurant in Times Square. She didn’t sell books at the store but instead sold jewelry. Patti didn’t imagine that selling jewelry at a bookstore would give her another destiny. She again met that boy who she met at Pratt Institute soon after arriving in New York City.
He was Robert Mapplethorpe, who then worked at the downtown branch of Brentano’s.
Robert visited the midtown branch to buy a jewelry. He bought a Persian necklace from Patti. Although Robert remembered Patti, he left again after a brief chat at the store without introducing their name. But this time, his absence wasn’t long.

Empty space used to have Brentano’s on 5th Avenue and 47th Street. Sephora is coming to space as their expansion.

Brentano’s was an old bookstore chain founded in 1853 and absorbed into Borders (which bankrupted). The former space of the bookstore is vacant at this point but is in the process to have a cosmetic retail giant, Sephora.
Being still homeless, Patti slept inside of Brentano’s. She recalled she didn’t have money to eat until finally receiving her pay on the second week.

Her boss introduced a novelist to Patti at the bookstore and the writer invited her for dinner. She concerned about the offer from the stranger first but accepted because she was so hungry. Though they took dinner at a fine restaurant on the first floor of Empire State Building, Patti was still uncomfortable about dining with the novelist.

Empire State Building. The restaurant within the building has changed several times, and now Heartland Brewery houses on the first floor.

More suspiciously, the writer took her to Tomkins Square Park in East Village after the dinner. Not only it wasn’t safe for a girl to sit down with a man who just met at a dark park, Tompkins Square Park was dangerous in that era (even today, girls will need some guts to walk alone in the park at night). Patti was looking for a way to get away from the man.
Then an angel unexpectedly showed up in the park. Robert Mapplethorpe again. That boy who purchased a necklace from Patti a few days ago coincidently walked in the park. Patti ran to the boy, whispered him to pretend her boyfriend, and managed to leave the writer.
That was when they finally introduced their names. They had a lot of conversations while hanging around in East Village, and stayed at the room of Robert’s friend, who was away, near Pratt Institute as he didn’t have a place to stay either.

Tompkins Square Park is one of the East Village oasis today, but the park was sleazy until 1990’s.
Like Washington Square Park, Tompkins Square Park is where freedom exists in the small and busy island of Manhattan today. (Clockwise from top) Musicians played jazz at the park, people enjoyed the sunshine on the summer, Tompkins Square Park is more hippie than Washington Square Park.

Robert bought Patti the famous egg cream at Gem Spa, a newsstand on 2nd Avenue and St. Marks Place. Located in the heart of East Village, this regular NYC newsstand actually has a long history in the same place since the 1920s. The store changed to Gem Spa in 1957. With so many caps and sunglasses on the storefront and plain newsstand interior, it is hard to imagine the store makes their own original drink, but the store has inherited their New York style egg cream for more than 90 years. Being in underground central, the store was popular for many underground magazines and artists hang out.

Still psychedelic storefront of Gem Spa. The store is owned by husband and wife of South Asian background for about 30 years. Very frank owners. I enjoyed some conversation.
Inside of Gem Spa. Inside is a normal deli unlike vivid outside.
So this is Gem Spa’s famous Egg Cream. They had two tastes, vanilla or chocolate, and the price was $3.95. I chose chocolate. That was actually pretty nice. A little sour like soda but refreshing. Sweetness was perfect for me (I’m not into too much sweet). The owner said they could customize sweetness.

Three times is a charm. Patti and Robert immediately started living together after meeting again at Tompkins Square Park. They spent in Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn around Pratt Institute for a while after meeting again at the park. Their first night was along Waverly Avenue. Then they spent at the apartment of Robert’s friends on the same street. They finally found their own apartment at 160 Hall Street. They lived on the entire second floor.
160 Hall Street is a chic luxurious townhouse today. Patti recalled the place was extremely dirty and filthy instead of cheap rent and discounted deposit when they moved in. The couple took a lot of days to clean up. Patti remembered the monthly rent was $80 in 1967. Today, the neighborhood’s rent can easily be higher than $2,000. Clinton Hill is an affluent neighborhood.

Waverly Avenue in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, where Patti and Robert spent their first few nights.
160 Hall Street. Patti and Robert lived on the second floor.
The classic look of Hall Street across Pratt Institute.
Myrtle Avenue near 160 Hall Street. Patti recalled elevated train (EL) ran over this street in 1967. Indeed, M train, also the title of her latest book, ran along Myrtle Avenue until 1969.
Apple Art Supplies on 321 DeKalb Avenue. Patti wrote about “Jake’s Art Supply” where she bought art materials in her “Just Kids” several times. While the name was changed to Apple Art Supplies since then, the art store, established in 1940, remains important for Pratt’s students on the same location.
Apple Art Supplies
Mike’s Coffee Shop right across Pratt Institute on DeKalb Avenue and Hall Street. Patti Smith wrote about a diner without a name on the corner where Hall Street changed the name to St. James Place on her biography. Mike’s Coffee Shop is located on the exact geographical situation. The shop was crowded with Pratt students when I visited.

Patti enjoying fresh New York experiences by the dates with Robert, especially in Manhattan. Because Brooklyn was away from the actions in the city never sleep, they wanted some stimulation.
Patti was excited to see some popular jazz clubs such as Birdland known for John Coltrane’s live album, and Five Spot Cafe on East Village famous by Billie Holiday’s shows. They also sometimes enjoyed exhibitions at Whitney Museum.

This is the current Birdland on 315 W. 44th Street, located since 1986. The jazz club is coincidently in the same building with Record Plant Patti Smith would record her “Radio Ethiopia” and “Easter” album, but the club wasn’t there when Patti recorded those albums.
Birdland was originally on Broadway and 53rd Street until 1965. So Birdland wasn’t on business when Patti saw the club in 1967. The site is now an office building on the right side of the photo.

When Birdland was first opened in 1949, the club’s place was different with today. The jazz club was located in the basement of 1678 Broadway until once forced to close by bankruptcy in 1965. John Coltrane recorded his famous live album Coltrane live at Birdland at that site in 1965. The former place is an office building today and the first floor is occupied by Bank Of America and a parking lot. Birdland reopened under a different management in Harlem in 1985 and moved to the current location on 315 West 44th Street in 1996, on the first floor of the same building with Record Plant where Patti later recorded her 2nd and 3rd album.
“Birdland” also became the title of the third song on her “Horses” album.

St. Marks Hotel on the corner of 3rd Avenue (front) and St. Marks Place (left). Though it has been a budget class hotel, St. Marks Hotel has been an East Village trademark.
The first floor of St. Marks Hotel used to have Five Points Cafe. The first a floor is now a body piercing store and a restaurant.

Patti and Robert visited another popular jazz club, Five Spot Cafe in East Village, as well. Five Spot Cafe was first on Cooper Square, then moved to the first floor of St. Marks Hotel on St. Marks Place and 2nd Avenue. I assume the place where Patti and Robert visited during their dates was the second one because she mentioned St. Marks Place on her biography. The jazz club ceased operation in 1976 but the St. Marks Hotel still serves as a cheap hotel in the same place at the opposite side of Gem Spa of St. Marks Place.

The patio in Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
The exhibitions at MoMA
Met Breuer on Madison Avenue and 75th Street. Whitney Museum used to be in the building.

As aspiring artists, they sometimes had dates at Museum of Modern Art on West 53rd Street and Whitney Museum on Madison Avenue in Upper East Side.
Whitney Museum recently moved to its new site just next to High Line in Meatpacking District from Upper East Side in 2015. The previous building on Madison Avenue and 75th Street is now leased to Metropolitan Museum that used the building as Met Breuer, specializing modern art.

42nd Street
7th Avenue and 42nd Street

Welcome to the big city! Many people might see 42nd Street first when if they arrive New York City by long-distance bus or shuttle bus from airports. Patti Smith, too.
As New York City was chaotic before, 42nd Street, the face of New York City, was also chaotic. Beside musical theaters, 42nd Street was shopping alley of many evils. Porn shops, stripped clubs, and mugging souvenir stores were pretty. Pimps, hustlers, stealing, drugs…everything. The world’s most famous street is still chaotic with massive people, but much safer than before.
Patti and Robert sometimes hung around at 42nd Street. Robert also hustled around here when he needed money.

Bowery in Lower East Side, facing to Empire State Building.
Orchard Street on Lower East Side.

In Lower East Side, Patti and Robert sometimes hunted thrift clothes on Bowery, the oldest street in Manhattan. They also bought art materials and general stuff at Orchard Street.

Pearl Paint occupied 304 and 308 Canal Street. 304 is in the center with black store sign and the first floor in on construction, and 308 is the small building right off 304. 304 was known as white and red dots exterior but now gone and freshly painted by the massive renovation.
Though the west of Canal Street and Broadway is in the middle of massive urban development, Mercer Street in front of 308 Canal Street still maintains the beautiful view of good old SoHo with many gorgeous historic cast-iron buildings and classic brick pavement. Traditional and non-commercial unlike the rest of SoHo.
Chinatown. Always busy.

Patti and Robert sometimes came to Chinatown to buy art supplies at Pearl Paint closed in 2014.


Coney Island, Brooklyn

Sometimes they enjoyed in Coney Island for a cheap journey. With 20 cents one-way subway fare (now $2.75!), they could get away to the beach and amusement park from their apartment and situation by one hour trip. They also went to Coney Island for their second anniversary. Particularly Patti loved Coney Island and she often visited the beach. Inner cover photo of Just Kids was taken in Coney Island.
Coney Island is still New Yorker’s big recreational area, where they can enjoy the beach, swimming, amusement park (Luna Park), and concert at Ford Amphitheater (click here to see more about the beach).

Roosevelt Island. Former Smallpox Hospital is on the left of the photo.

Patti, Robert, and their friends sometimes visited Welfare Island (now Roosevelt Island) and entered the ruins of City Hospital and Smallpox Hospital.
Roosevelt Island is the small, narrow island on East River between Manhattan and Queens. The island has the beautiful views of both Manhattan skyscrapers and Queens and filled with many high rises take the advantage of spectacular views today. However, the affluent island was the isolated island of prison and special hospitals such as Smallpox Hospital, Goldwater Memorial (chronic care), and City Hospital until 1971, when the island changed the name to Roosevelt Island from Welfare Island and leased to New York State by the city for urban development. While City Hospital was demolished in 1994, the ruin of Smallpox Hospital still exists on the southern Roosevelt Island and will remain as a part of historic monuments.

Patti was later fired from Brentano’s due to her mistake failed to charge a foreign customer duty on the expensive antique. Robert was unemployed at that time. They started supported each other financially.
All of her jobs, including Brentano’s, were on or near high-end 5th Avenue in contrast with her later underground music career. After Brentano’s, both Patti and Robert started working at a fancy toy store, FAO Schwarz on 5th Avenue; Patti as a seasonal cashier during Christmas and Robert for window displays. Here are the places Patti worked in Midtown Manhattan.

The places where Patti Smith worked. Clockwise from top right: Former Scribner Bookstore houses Sephora today, beautiful interior of Sephora, FAO Schwartz on 745 5th Avenue (not next to Apple Store), Argosy Bookstore

1. FAO Schwarz: Probably the most known site of FAO Schwarz was behind the glass cube of Apple Store on the northeast corner of 5th Avenue and 58th Street, but the high scaled toy store was across 58th Street when Patti and Robert worked. The store space is occupied by Bergdorf=Goodman today. FAO moved in 1986. According to Patti, working condition was nothing fancy like toys with very cheap wages, long working hours, and strict rules. Though the nation’s oldest toy store ceased operation in 2015, the store seems to come back in 2017. They set up their new website, states “return to wonder, 2017”.

2. Argosy Book Store: Patti later found a better job at Argosy Book Store. The old bookstore sells classic books and maps, still maintains their own six-story building on 59th Street between Lexington and Park Avenues despite major development in surrounding area.

3. Scribner’s Book Store: Patti was hired by another bookstore on 5th Avenue and 48th Street, Scribner’s Book Store, by a kind reference to the management by her college friend who also worked at the store. She firsts started working as a phone desk, then successfully promoted to higher positions in sales. She worked for 4 years until 1971. She enjoyed better pays and working condition at Scribner’s, that was also a historic publishing company with great writers such as Ernest Hemingway and Henry James since 1846.
Scribner’s Book Store doesn’t exist but Sephora has occupied the former site with same beautiful vintage glass facade in the national historic building.

F train on the right and A train is on the left at Jay Street-Metro Tech Station in downtown Brooklyn. Patti Smith commuted to 5th Avenue with F train wherever she lived. Assumingly, she took F train from this station while living in Clinton Hill neighborhood.

Patti often wrote about F train on Just Kids. F train, running under 6th Avenue, was convenient for her because she worked on 5th Avenue and sometimes she took F train to Coney Island, the F train’s terminal. F train is indeed convenient running in the middle of Manhattan and connects major entertaining areas of East Village, West Village, Chelsea, and Midtown.

Robert introduced many things to Patti’s new life in New York City. First, many of his friends from his art school who hung well with Patti. And music. Robert found a job as an usher at a popular music club, Fillmore East. Robert gave a ticket of Doors show at Fillmore East on March 22-23, 1968, the month Fillmore East opened its door. That was when Patti thought she could sing and perform on stage with watching Jim Morrison.

The building used to be Fillmore East. The building is occupied by Apple Bank today.

Fillmore East on 2nd Avenue and E. 6th Street in East Village was one of the clubs made a history in New York music scene between 1968 and 1971. Notable musicians performed at the club included Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, and The Allman Brothers Band at the last show.
The building is now used as a branch of Apple Bank.

The distance between Patti and Robert started getting apart as a natural and normal process during understanding each other. In addition, their working schedules were completely different and Robert concentrated and got frustrated about his artworks. Patti started spending more time with her friends to escape from the couple’s situation, and eventually left their apartment on Hall Street. Patti escaped to Lower East Side and Avenue A in East Village. Both were notorious areas during that time.

Lower East Side. The neighborhood is getting modern.
East Village from Avenue A

But Robert had one secret Patti didn’t know until a later day. Robert was homosexual but still confused and in the closet at that time. Robert forced himself to try a date with a girl for an effort to change his sexuality. Patti didn’t suspect his sexuality first and sometimes missed him even after she left Robert.

They still kept in touch and eventually got back together. Then each went to a different journey. Robert went to San Francisco for his own soul search and artistic inspiration. In one of the world’s biggest gay mecca, he also experienced the gay world and eventually found a boyfriend behind Patti. Patti went to Paris with her sister and enjoyed the different style of freedom with New York City.

Delancey Street and Williamsburg Bridge. Patti and Robert briefly lived around here when Patti returned from Paris.

When Patti visited Robert upon returning from Paris, Robert lived in Lower East Side near Williamsburg Bridge and was very sick. On the next early morning, a murder occurred at their apartment entrance. Feeling unsafe, they decided to flee from Lower East Side and moved to a cheap hotel in Chelsea named Hotel Allerton.
With large housing project complexes around the bridge, Lower East Side was dangerous through 60-80’s. The neighborhood’s development didn’t arrive until the 21st century, later than East Village. Lower East Side is on the big transition today. Sleaziness is gone. Many old buildings were torn down and replaced with modern buildings. Old buildings have many popular, non-traditional restaurants and bars in the neighborhood.

This building used to be Allerton Hotel in Chelsea. The hotel is now a trendy boutique hotel named The Gem Hotel.
8th Avenue next to The Gem Hotel (formerly Hotel Allerton).

Allerton Hotel was located on the corner of 8th Avenue and 22nd Street until 2006. The budget hotel was pretty much known as a very dirty and dangerous hotel partly serving as a homeless shelter even the area’s safety was improving. Patti Smith vividly expressed how much the hotel was filthy and unsafe on her Just Kids, like rotten bed and wall, dirty window, sink with no water, and many guests with alcohol and drug issues. As Robert’s illness was getting worse, Patti decided to switch to a better hotel around the corner. That was Hotel Chelsea.
The building of horrible Allerton Hotel surprisingly still exists. Unlike the previous terrible condition, the building is now used as a beautiful trendy boutique hotel, The Gem Hotel, after a complete renovation. Not only keeping the exterior, the L-shaped hotel sign and white lettered “HOTEL” on the wall are unchanged from Allerton era.

As mentioning earlier, Waverly Diner was the restaurant Patti Smith took a little meal with a homeless man named Saint while she slept in the nearby Washington Square Park after arriving from her hometown in New Jersey. That restaurant was one of the first restaurants she visited in New York City.

The restaurant has two things doesn’t experience much: losing popularity and closing. The restaurant is always open 24/7. The restaurant might once close for renovation briefly but I really haven’t seen the restaurant was actually closed. And being in the middle of West Village filled with many clubs and bars, the restaurant has served an important role in Village nightlife. If people are hungry after parties, they stop over here. The restaurant has a good number of customers at other times as well. This is the basic, no-frills diner but it’s safe to say the restaurant is loved by the community.
Also, Waverly Diner has a long history in the area many restaurants come and go. Patti Smith dined here in 1967. The restaurant was there when I first saw in early 1990’s. Probably nobody knows when the diner was really opened.

Waverly Diner. The store neon signs are nothing changed.
The inside of Waverly Diner. I was lucky I could take this photo when not many customers inside. Those empty tables were quickly filled out afterward. That was around 4 or 5 p.m.
Hot Roast Sirloin Beef Open Sandwich. The menu included a side and vegetable, so I chose french fries with gravy and spinach.

What I ate last time was Hot Roast Sirloin Beef Open Sandwich. I don’t know why but that is always my favorite diner food in winter. $15.45 and everything in the photo was included (the smallest dish was spinach from the vegetable choices). I requested to put gravy on french fries and they kindly did without extra charge. The food was ok, nothing more than average. I wish the sandwich was hotter, but my stomach was happily satisfied.

ADDRESS: 385 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10014 (map)
TEL: 212-675-3181


  2. NEW YORK MUSIC TRIP/PATTI SMITH #3 OF 3: Radio Underground

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