Harlem and Morningside Heights

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The Beats’ Apartment (apt 62, 421 W 118th Street)

More than any other single place, this apartment, located near Columbia University, was the birthplace of the Beat movement in the 40s, where young bohemian types converged on the apartment and talked long into the night, including Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Lucien Carr, and Allen Ginsberg.

The sixth floor apartment was occupied by Jack Kerouac's girlfriend, Edie Parker. Edie’s flatmate, Joan Vollmer, went on to marry Kerouac’s friend, William Burroughs.

In 1944, the group of friends moved into a flat together at 419 W 115th St. Here, a new and influential member was introduced to the group: Neal Cassady, an ex-juvenile delinquent from Denver with an interest in fast cars, women and philosophy. Cassady became the model for the hero of Kerouac’s novel On The Road; he also went on to drive the bus for Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters, who travelled America in the Sixties, spreading the gospel of mind expanding drugs.

Apollo Theater (253 West 125th Street)

The Apollo is a powerful icon of Harlem’s cultural legacy. The Apollo opera house was built in 1914 and - ironically - operated under a “whites” only policy until 1934, when it was relaunched as a multi-racial jazz and blues venue, featuring performers like Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, and Charlie Parker.

The weekly Apollo Amateur nights on Wednesdays were legendary (performers are rated according the audience reaction); over the years, winners have included James Brown, Gladys Knight and Jimi Hendrix. Classic recordings made at the Apollo, include James Brown’s Live at the Apollo and Little Stevie Wonder’s Fingertips. More recently, U2’s film clip for their song Angel of Harlem was filmed at the Apollo.

Theresa Hotel / Theresa Towers (corner 125th and Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd)

The Theresa hotel was a regular stop for black R&B and jazz musicians who could not find rooms at other NY hotels in the 40s and 50s. When Fidel Castro visited the US in the early 60s, he stayed at the Theresa in a gesture of solidarity.

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