Posts Tagged ‘Edgar Allan Poe in New York City’

Edgar Allan Poe’s Upper West Side farmhouse

April 7, 2011

Edgar Allan Poe—arguably New York City’s first Bohemian—lived in a bunch of different places when he arrived in Manhattan in the 1830s.

There was a home at 130 Greenwich Street, another at 85 West Third (or Amity) Street, and a cottage on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, where his young wife Virginia died of tuberculosis in 1846.

In 1844, fleeing high rents near Washington Square, he and Virginia moved to a farmhouse near today’s West 84th Street and Broadway.

Of course, there was no city up there, as this early 1900s postcard reveals.

Manhattan was country north of Greenwich Village, dotted with tiny hamlets.

Interestingly, the postcard calls Broadway “St. Nicholas Place.” I found one reference to that forgotten street name: a New York Times piece from 1893:

“The house where ‘The Raven’ was written stands on a rocky and commanding eminence, a few hundred feet from the corner of 84th Street and St. Nicholas Boulevard, formerly the Bloomingdale Road,” the Times reported.

This corner today claims Poe as its own, naming 84th Street from Broadway through West End Avenue after him and honoring the famous resident with a long-running cafe, Edgar’s.

Edgar Allan Poe: New York’s first bohemian?

July 27, 2010

He eked out a living as a writer, drank and scored drugs, and resided in a succession of Village apartments. Oh, and he seemed to wear a lot of black.

Poe as the first bohemian is an idea put forth by Ross Wetzon in his 2002 book on Greenwich Village, Republic of Dreams.

After referencing Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Stephen Crane, and O. Henry, Wetzon wrote: 

“None of these writers could be considered more than semi-bohemians, but the Village could put in a partial claim to America’s first true bohemian, Edgar Allan Poe. In the late 1830s and early 1840s, Poe lived at 85 West Third Street, 1131/2 Carmine Street, 137 Waverly Place, and 130 Greenwich Street—at all of which he is said to have written ‘The Raven’ and at none did he live abstemiously.”

Bohemianism in the U.S. was born in the 1850s at Pfaff’s, a bar at either 653 or 647 Broadway (sources list both addresses), where artists, writers, and freethinkers hung out. 

Poe was dead by the time these early bohemians emerged, but scholars credit him as their inspiration. He’s been nicknamed the “spiritual guide” of bohemia and called its patron saint.


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