1. Radio City Music Hall & The Carnegie Music Hall
New York has several musical landmarks, with a history full of legendary performances. Both Radio City Music Hall and the Carnegie Music Hall offer tours through the historic buildings. Besides that it’s only a 10-minute walk from one to the other. Both concert venues are still in use, so you might as well visit a show for the full experience.
Radio City Music Hall: 1260, 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020 | Carnegie Music Hall: 881, 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019
2. Kool Hercs Block, The Bronx
Next stop: The Bronx. Make sure to put some hip-hop on your ears here. Then, think of this story about DJ Kool Herc.
In 1973, Cindy Campbell threw a ‘Back To School Jam’ at a recreation room at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. The line-up: her 16 year old brother, who is best known as DJ Kool Herc. The Jamaican DJ started playing beats and rapping over the beats when he was 12, and that’s what he did at the party as well. People back then didn’t know that this party was the birth of hip-hop. The ‘small’ party kickstarted a whole new movement and culture and a lot of block parties followed.
By the end of 1973, because of the popularity, Herc could no longer DJ in spaces as small as the recreation room. So he moved into bigger clubs and the Bronx Cedar Park. In 2007, the recreation room at 1520 Sedgwick was officially recognized as the ‘birthplace of hip-hop’. Could you imagine that a cute invitation like above would start a whole new movement?
Walk through the streets of The Bronx, visit the Bronx Cedar Park, watch hip-hop’s birth place and remember that a small party changed everything.
Where to go: The Bronx in general and 1520 Sedgwick Avenue
3. Be Like Lou Reed: ‘Go To The Apollo, see her go, go, go…’
The Apollo Theatre is a music hall in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. When you just look at the building, you can already see some music history. In former times, you could find names such as Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin Sam Cooke and Ray Charles on the outside signs. The Apollo Theatre is known for their famous ‘Amateur Nights’. The Amateur Night launched the career of, for example, Ella Fitzgerald. There are still amateur Nights planned at the Theatre, so make sure to visit one of them. You might spot some new talent.
The Apollo Theatre: 253 W, 125th St, New York, NY 10027
4. Visit a church with a gospel choir
You can’t miss a gospel performance when you’re in New York. Our first choice would be to go to Times Square Church – 1657 Broadway. Their Adult Praise Choir performs 4 times per week. Check out the video underneath. When you’re visiting the church, please remember that it’s a religious service, not a touristic one. Respect the other visitors and the choir. It can be considered rude if you leave in the middle of a performance. Enjoy the environment, choir and the energy. Best tip: Just walk to the church by yourself, instead of an organized tour.
Times Square Church: 237 W, 51st St, New York, NY 10019
5. Be amazed by the Beacon Theatre
The Beacon Theatre is a historic Theater at 2124 Broadway, Manhattan. The theatre is the ‘older sister’ to the Radio City Music Hall. Both venues are often named legendary and historical. The theatre is designed by Chicago architect Walter Ahschlager and opened its doors in 1929. Artists like The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Radiohead and Queen performed at the Beacon Theatre. Just go there to sniff some musical history and see the historic building.
Beacon Theatre: 2124 Broadway, New York, NY 10023
6. Walk to the streets of Greenwich Village
Years ago, Greenwich Village was ‘New York’s Neighbourhood of Artists’. In 1961, a young musician named Robert Zimmerman moved to Greenwhich Village. Greenwich is a district in Manhattan and has been known as an artist’s heaven, the cradle of LGBT movement, the birthplace of both Beat and ‘60’s counterculture movements. Zimmerman (you might know him as Bob Dylan) lived, performed and invented Folk music in Greenwich Village. There is not much left of the 60’s decade, but you can still walk through the streets, just as Dylan did. He’s even telling it to you himself. Make sure to listen to ‘Talkin’ New York’ and he’ll let you know what to do in Greenwich Village.
Also make sure to visit Washington Square Park. It’s the heart and soul of the village, full of street performers, musicians and artists. Bob Dylan used to listen to the groups enjoying their shows. Be like Dylan, go there! 😉
Explore all the little cafes and hear their stories. If there’s some time left, also go to see Café Wha. It’s one of the few places that still exist the way it existed when Dylan walked through the doors. The stage is a platform to new music, poetry and comedy. Dylan sang in this café, the first time he was in town.
Greenwich Village is a district in Manhattan. Cafe Wha? is located at 115 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012
7. Make a rest top for rare individuals at the Chelsea Hotel
Another historic place you can visit when in New York, is the world famous Chelsea Hotel. The hotel has been the home to numerous musicians, artist, writers and poets. A lot of songs are written about the hotel and a lot of good stories go around. It’s the place where Bob Dylan composed songs and Jim Morrison, Patti Smith and Madonna have slept. Where Leonard Cohen got a blowjob from Janis Joplin. The slogan of the old hotel was ‘A rest stop for rare inspaniduals’, so you should go there. Don’t forget to listen to ‘Chelsea Hotel #2’, by Leonard Cohen. He wrote an incredible song about his adventures there, enjoy!
The Chelsea Hotel: 222 W, 23rd St, New York, NY 10011
8. Take a photo at Lexington and 125th St. Harlem
Yes, you should visit the intersection where Lou Reed used to buy heroin. At least, that’s what he says in the song. ‘I’m waiting for my man Twenty-six dollars in my hand Up to Lexington, one, two, five Feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive I’m waiting for my man’
Put the song on your ears and walk through these historic streets (It’s close to the Apollo Theatre, kill two birds with one stone!). Then stand under the street signs, take a photo, and imagine how miserable this place must have looked when Lou Reed was hanging out here in the mid-’60s.
Adress: Lexington and 125th St. Harlem, NY
9. Listen to the Boss and visit the National September 11 Memorial
There’s a big chance you will visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum when you’re in New York. The memorial is located at the World Trade Center site, the former location of the Twin Towers. Remember and honour the people who passed away that tragic day. Where is the musical link? After 9/11, Bruce Springsteen wrote ‘The Rising’, as a response to the attacks. The song tells the story of a New York City firefighter, climbing one of the towers after the planes had hit them. The choruses are more upbeat, and it’s an anthem of resilience and hope as well. Listening to this song and album by Bruce Springsteen is one of the must-do’s for a music lover when in New York. Springsteen wrote more songs about New York, but this specific song will cause goosebumps all over.
WTC Memorial: 180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007
10. Remember John Lennon at the Central Park
This last one is almost an obligation for a music lover in New York. On 8 December, 1980, John Lennon was shot by Mark David Chapman in the archway of the Dakota, his home in New York. Lennon died on the way to the hospital. It was a tragic death of a legendary musician. His wife, Yoko Ono scattered his ashes in Central Park. Later there was a memorial for Lennon: The Strawberry Fields Memorial. So, visit the Central Park, what you probably already had planned. Remember John Lennon at the Memorial and prove Lennon the last honour.
The Strawberry Fields Memorial is in the Central Park: New York, 10024