Where Bob Dylan got his start in the Village

In April 1961, Dylan played his first paying gig at Gerde’s Folk City, an early folk music venue in the Village and a launching pad for Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, and other 1960s folkie legends.


A very enthusiastic review in the New York Times that September helped make him a household name:

“A bright new face in folk music is appearing at Gerde’s Folk City,” write reviewer (and eventual Dylan biographer) Robert Shelton. “Although only 20 years old, Bob Dylan is one of the most distinctive stylists to play in a Manhattan cabaret in months.

“Resembling a cross between a choir boy and a beatnik, Mr. Dylan has a cherubic look and a mop of tousled hair . . . . His clothes may need a bit of tailoring, but when he works his guitar, harmonica, and piano and composes new songs faster than he can remember them, there is no doubt that he is bursting at the seams with talent.” 


A review of Gerde’s from The New Inside Guide to Greenwich Village, 1965

Gerde’s was at West Fourth Street, at Mercer. The club moved to West Third Street in the 1970s, closing up shop in the 1980s. The West Fourth Street building in the photo above was torn down, replaced by a structure housing Hebrew Union College.

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18 Responses to “Where Bob Dylan got his start in the Village”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    In the early 60s I wandered past the site countless times. Deserted streets, just like in the picture, and nothing like they are today. Bob Dylan was just a folkie hillbilly at the time. And just this morning heard about his Christmas album


    My how times change…

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    I love reading about the early 60s folk scene, this self-contained world of Village musicians centered around Bleecker Street. I guess rock pushed it aside in the late 60s.

  3. Nabe News: August 27 - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle Says:

    […] A look back at Gerde’s Folk City, the Village club where Bob Dylan launched his career.  It was originally located at West Fourth and Mercer, but moved to West Third Street in the 70s.  Now it no longer exists [Ephemeral NY] […]

  4. Alex Says:

    I was too late for the originl Gerde’s Folk City on 4th Street, but I did see a few acts at their location at 130 W 3rd Street, when they were known simply as Folk City. Today the place is the Fat Black Pussycat Lounge.

  5. wildnewyork Says:

    The Fat Black Pussycat used to be on Minetta Lane, and that’s where Dylan wrote Blowing in the Wind, according to the always informative nysonglines: http://www.nysonglines.com/minettast.htm

    It all comes full circle….

  6. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    I saw Dylan just twice, once at Madison Sq Garden in the 70s and once in Radio City in the 80s. But I did see him a few times walking the streets of the Village all by himself like he still does, witness the cops stopped him for questioning a week or so ago in NJ. The more things change the more Dylan is ahead of everybody, that’s for sure

  7. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    If anybody didn’t hear of this, here’s Dylan stopped by the NJ cops when he was nothing but a rolling stone…


  8. Find Guitar Music Lessons Says:

    Very very cool. I wish the only New York was still around…these days everything feels so “artificial.”

  9. Peter Crowley Says:

    If you want to visit the real NYC, you’ll need a time machine.

  10. Jillian Pinsker Says:

    I have a poster in black white and red from 1960 documenting Bob Dylan at the Underground Cavern in 1960 . “A Portion of Fee to Be Donated to
    The National Association For The Advancement of Colored People.”

    • Darrell Benson Says:

      I also have this poster, printed on cardboard. Is it authentic?
      The date seems a few months too early…

    • Jean Says:

      I also have a 1960 poster from Bob Dylan portion donated to NAACP… is it real? What do you know? I bought mine at the local good will for $9.99… ANYONE?

  11. Michelle... Says:

    Joan actually launched her career at Club 47 (now moved and known as Club Passim since the late 60s) in Harvard Square.

  12. Jiilian Pinsker Says:

    I have a framed poster dated Sept.9. 1960 Bob Dylan benefit concert
    for NAACP. Admission was $3.00

  13. Bob Dylan’s “muffled and mysterious” 1960s city « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] but hungry for success and experiences, his observations of the winter he arrived—”the cold was brutal and every […]

  14. big idea mastermind Says:

    Yes I finally got a beatles REAL fans page. bob ddylan is a legend man.

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