Where NYC Icons Hang Out



Some people are as iconically New York as the Chrysler building. We are talking Patti Smith, Woody Allen, Louie CK, Billy Crystal. Here’s how to experience the city as they do.

Patti Smith loves St. Mark’s Church

In an excerpt from Smith’s book Just Kids, she recalls reading for the Poetry Project at the church in 1971, accompanied by Lenny Kaye. Said Smith, “It was the first time an electric guitar had been played in St. Mark’s Church, provoking cheers and jeers. As this was hallowed ground for poetry, some objected, but Gregory was jubilant.”

Go Now: Open to all for sermons and prayers, St. Mark’s in the Bowery is also an active food pantry (contact the office for volunteer opportunities). On Wednesdays, the Poetry Project carries on the tradition of hosting readings at the church.

St.Mark’s in-the-Bowery, 131 E 10th St.

Louie CK loves Russ and Daughters

Louie’s eponymous FX comedy is more about not-dating than dating, so it must say something that he goes with two women, in two different episodes, to this classic smoked fish and bagel spot on Houston Street. During the second visit, in the fourth season’s “Elevator Part 2” episode, he tells his date, Amia, “This is the best, it’s called Russ and Daughters.” Taking a bite of smelt, he says, “It’s really good.”

Go Now: Head to the original location on the Lower East Side, where the variety of different smoked fish available will amaze you. Nearby, the new, sit-down Russ and Daughters Cafe has the same dedication to bagels and nova, in a more refined, less hectic, still awesome room.

Russ and Daughters, 179 E Houston St.

Woody Allen loves The Russian Tea Room

Allen’s opus Manhattan is considered one of the great Big Apple love letters. In it he makes particular note of Midtown’s Russian Tea Room, a place he frequents in real life. His character, Isaac, takes his son to the restaurant and tells him, “This is the Russian Tea Room, you want to have a blintz or something.” He continues his fatherly words of wisdom with, “You see those two women here? They have very beautiful women who eat here.”

Go Now: The Russian Tea Room closed in 2002 and reopened four years later, keeping the same regal and lavish interior.

Russian Tea Room, 150 W 57th St.

Chloe Sevigny loves the East Village

Chloe Sevigny is one of New York City’s most distinct personalities, an it girl-turned-fashion icon and actress. She was originally discovered by Sassy magazine in the East Village. Sevigny used to own an apartment on East 10th Street, and on this i-d list X1 of her ultimate NYC spots, she points quite a few East Village standbys, including her favorite place to dance all night and shop for vintage clothes.

Go Now: The East Village isn’t as grungy and chaotic as it was in the mid-90’s. Take heart: You can still find gutter-punks hanging out on St.Mark’s, as well Sevigny favorites Sock Man and The Pyramid Club.

Billy Crystal loves Yankee Stadium

Billy Crystal has never been shy about his love for the Yankees. He’s a frequent attendee of games, and produced a retro visual of the park for his Award-winning film 61*. Crystal is such an avid fan, the team let him take an at-bat in a 2008 spring training game.

Go Now: The Yankees home opener is on April 4 against the Houston Astros. Next door to the new stadium (built in 2009), the original Yankee Stadium field is preserved and available for tours. You can stand in the batter’s box and listen for the ghosts of Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle.

Yankee Stadium, 1 E. 161st St. Bronx

Robert De Niro loves Tribeca

Robert De Niro is the face of Tribeca. He founded the famous Tribeca Film Festival, and is co-owner of neighborhood restaurants Nobu, Tribeca Grill and Locanda Verde.

Go Now: The 2016 Tribeca Film Festival starts April 13, and tickets are available for purchase now.

Tribeca Film Festival

Jay Z and Beyonce love Brooklyn pizza

The power couple frequents Lucali in Carroll Gardens and Roberta’s in Bushwick, showing off good taste by frequenting two of the city’s best pizza spots.

Go Now: Lucali is packed most nights of the week, and there are no reservations, so come early and be ready to wait. Roberta’s is larger, but can still get crazy; consider sidestepping the crowd with a weekday lunch visit.

Lucali, 575 Henry St., Brooklyn

Roberta’s, 261 Moore St., Brooklyn

David Bowie loved Washington Square Park and The Strand

The late, great Starman was one of New York City’s most low-key celebrity expats. In a piece he wrote for New York Magazine in 2003, he said that Washington Square Park is “the emotional history of New York in a quick walk.” Of the Strand Bookstore near Union Square, he said: “It’s impossible to find the book you want, but you always find the book you didn’t want.”

Go Now: Head to Washington Square Park on any given day for some can’t-be-beat people watching, or March 13-14th to watch NYU students perform Shakespeare. The Strand hosts events on a regular basis, which range from speed dating to book signings.

The Strand, 828 Broadway

Washington Square Park

cover image @chloessevigny

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