Bob Dylan’s Greenwich Village Walking Tour

This post is a self-guided tour of places in Greenwich Village that are significant in Bob Dylan’s career. It includes venues he played at, buildings he lived in, and other Dylan-related spots.

 

 


SELF-GUIDED TOUR OF BOB DYLAN’S GREENWICH VILLAGE

This self-guided tour has 13 stops and covers approximately 1 1/2 miles. Walking at a casual speed, the tour will take you 90 minutes.

Should you get hungry along the way, there are some fantastic places to grab food and snacks in Greenwich Village. 

See our guide on things to do in Greenwich Village to see a list of places to eat.

This map is interactive. You can make it larger as well as scroll around.

 

Watch the video clips included with each location for even more detail and images as well.  


(A) Hotel Earle (now Washington Square Park Hotel) –  103 Waverly Place

When a young Bob Dylan (nee Robert Zimmerman) arrived in New York in the winter of 1961, he stayed here for a short while in Room 305.

Back then it was a residential hotel for down-and-outers. His friend Joan Baez made reference to the Earle in her bittersweet love song about Dylan, Diamonds, and Rust, in the lyric “that crummy hotel over Washington Square.” 

 

 

Today the hotel is Washington Square Hotel and, ironically, this former flophouse is one of our picks for an affordable hotel in the Greenwich Village area.


(B) Washington Square Park 

This could be called the epicenter of the bohemian scene and hippie movement of the 1960s. Street performers, musicians, and artists frequent the park in all kinds of weather.

 

 

Bob Dylan was known to listen to the groups enjoying their daylight hours strumming guitars or banjos and singing — often for tips, or just for the sheer fun of it.  

For a detailed history of the park, check out our post on Washington Square Park.


(C) The Bitter End  – 147 Bleecker Street

This small and intimate nightclub, coffeehouse and folk music venue opened in 1961. 

Every Tuesday night, the club hosted  “hootenannies” where newbie folk artists took the stage, many of whom went on to become legends.

 

 

In the mid-1970s, the club was the birthplace of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue, which featured such musicians as Roger McGuinn, founder of the Byrds and solo folk music superstar Joni Mitchell. 

Dylan hung out here in 1975 when he was recording his album Desire.


(D)  Village Gate  – 158 Bleecker Street

Now renamed the Village Theater, this nightclub was opened in 1958 and hosted some of the most controversial (and talented) names in jazz, theater, comedy, and folk music.

In 1962, Dylan was staying with his friend Chip Monck, who lived in the basement of this building. It was here that Dylan wrote A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.

 

 

Chip Monck too went on to fame. He started his career as a stage lighter at the Village Gate.

He went on to light both the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and Woodstock in 1969, where he was the master of ceremonies.


(E) 94 MacDougal Street  

Dylan purchased this townhouse in 1969 when he returned from a long hiatus in Woodstock with his wife and children. 

This was a surprising choice of location now that Dylan was world-famous. MacDougal Steet was one a magnet for locals and tourists and wold not afford Dylan much privacy.

To this day, MacDougal Street is one of liveliest streets in Greenwich Village. It is lined with music venues, cafes, shops, and restaurants. 

 

 

A neighbor by the name of A.J. Weberman made the Dylans’ lives miserable by invading their privacy by picking through their trash garbage and bringing loads of people to the townhouse.

After asking Weberman over and over again to stop, Dylan lost it one day and beat up Weberman on the street.

Dylan shortly thereafter moved to Malibu in California.


(F) The Folklore Center – 110 MacDougal Street

This book and music shop owned by Izzy Young became the center of the folk music scene in Greenwich Village. 

The young Bob Dylan would sit in the back and listen to the records.

In 1961, Dylan played a few songs here and it was recorded. The video below contains the rare recording of his 3 song performance set to a still photograph. 

 

 
Izzy Young booked Dylan’s first concert in New York City at the Carnegie Chapter Hall in 1961. In tribute, Dylan wrote “Talking Folklore Center.”

The Folkore Center is, according to Dylan, where he met Dave Van Ronk, who introduced him into the Greenwich Village music scene.


(G) Gaslight Cafe  (formerly Kettle of Fish) – 116 MacDougal Street

This music cafe was located in what was the basement of the Kettle of Fish (now on Christopher Street). 

The album Live at The Gaslight 1962, released in 2005, is a collection of 10 Dylan performances recorded on reel-to-reel tapes in his early days in the Village.

 

 

The Gaslight Cafe is known as the birthplace of the tradition of finger-snapping instead of clapping for a performer! Here’s how this came about:

The basement cafe was not deep enough for a decent-sized audience, so the owner shoveled it deeper himself. In doing so, he exposed the airshafts in the building.

When the audience especially enjoyed a performer, such as Dylan who performed here often in the early days, they would clap heartily. Sometimes these boisterous performances went on as late as 4:30 am.

The sound of loud clapping echoed through the airshafts and could be heard by the tenants. They would often call the police to complain about the noise from below.

Patrons began to snap their fingers to quietly show their appreciation of performers. Thus a tradition was born.


(H) Cafe Wha? – 115 MacDougal Street

 Cafe Wha? is a music venue that has been a launchpad known as a launchpad for new musicians careers.

In January of 1961, a 19-year old Dylan (still going by the name Robert Zimmerman) arrived in NYC

He Café Wha? on his first night in town. He did a short set of Woodie Guthrie songs.

 

 

Check out our post about Cafe Wha? for an in-depth history about the other famous musicians and comedians who performed here.


(I) Former site of The Commons   – 105 MacDougal Street

This location was once The Commons, a cafe that held poetry readings, and folk music and jazz performances. 

 

 

Today it is a mediocre but popular restaurant, Panchito’s. 

You would never know by looking at it that this was where Dylan wrote Blowin’ in the Wind.


(J) Jones Street – between West 4th and Bleecker Streets

Dylan fans will no doubt immediately recognize this intersection as the spot where the photograph on the cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was shot.

 

 

 

Dylan is hunched against the cold weather with then-girlfriend Suze Rotolo hanging on his arm trudging through the snow-covered street.  

At that time Dylan and Rotolo lived at 161 West 4th Street off of Sixth Avenue.


(K) One Sheridan Square

Dylan lived here briefly on the 4th floor, staying with “folk scene den mother” Miki Isaacson whose living room was a permanent crash pad for folk singers. 

Suze Rotolo’s mother lived in the apartment one floor below. Dylan and Suze crossed paths here and began dating.

 

 

A year after that album cover was shot, Dylan swiftly rose to fame and he broke up with Suze.

He did write a song inspired by her, however, called Tomorrow Is a Long Time.


(L) Theatre de Lys (now the Lucille Lortel Theater)  – 121 Christopher Street

It was here in 1963 that Dylan saw a performance of Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera and heard the song Pirate Jenny. 

 

 

Dylan wrote in his book “Chronicles: Volume One,” that he was deeply influenced by Pirate Jenny which led to his experimenting with his own songwriting.

The results were stunning masterpieces like The Times They Are A-Changin’, Mr. Tambourine Man and A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.


(M) White Horse Tavern  – 567 Hudson Street

Dylan and girlfriend Rotolo would sit in the bar and listen to Irish Rebel songs performed by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.

This now well-known tavern was also frequented by writers including the poet British poet Dylan Thomas, from whom Bob Zimmerman took his stage name.

 

 

This bar is one of the oldest in New York City and is included in our Self-Guided Historic New York City Bar Tour.

 


Back to top


 

GUIDED TOURS OF GREENWICH VILLAGE

There’s so much more to see in Greenwich Village than just the places connected to Bob Dylan.

The Village was THE place where major artistic, musical, literary and political movements of the 20th Century were born.

Our pay-what-you-wish Greenwich Village Walking Tour takes you to places that played a role in these movements as your guide discusses their historical context.

The tour visits Washington Square Park that drew hippies and counterculture activists throughout the 1960s and 70s.

Our tour takes you on MacDougal Street where Beatniks like Allen Ginsburg and Jack Kerouac hung out at cafes that lined the street.

We stop at Cafe Wha? a venue where so many rock musicians, including Bob Dylan,  got their start.

 

 

You’ll also see small theaters like the Cherry Lane that helped the innovative playwrights of the like Eugene O’Neill and Edna St. Vincent Millay flourish.

We stop at the Stonewall Inn, where the Gay Liberation Movement took off in 1969.

And no trip to Greenwich Village is complete without seeing the Friends apartment building!

These are just some of the many places you’ll see and things you’ll learn about on our pay-what-you-wish Greenwich Village Walking Tour.

If you prefer to explore the Village at your own pace check out our GPS-enabled audio tour, narrated by one of our tour guides. 

With or without a tour, be sure to visit this dynamic neighborhood where history was made and still is even today!

 


Back to top


 

ROCK JUNKET ROCK AND ROLL TOUR

If your musical taste goes beyond Bob Dylan, you might be interested in taking Rock Junket’s Rock and Roll Tour.

This 2-hour tour takes you on a journey to the past as you stroll the streets and go to locations where punk rock originated.

Learn about the East Village, home to the Ramones, Blondie, and Television. See where The Doors, The Who and Led Zeppelin played to small but packed houses.

 

 

This tour is more than just looking at buildings. Your energetic and knowledgable guide will bring these sites to life.

The Guardian UK has called this tour the 3rd best tour in the world! The tour has been featured in Rolling Stine, the New York Times, the Washington Post and more.

Guests give rave reviews of this tour saying it’s “absolutely brilliant” and “awesome”. The guide is described as “enthusiastic”, “very knowledgeable” and “fun”. Read more reviews here.

Tour details:

 


Back to top