Midtown / Theatre District

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The Brill Building (1619 Broadway)


In the late 50s and early 60s, the leading music publishers of New York were co-located in the Brill Building. Publishers like Don Kirschner grew rich by employing teams of talented and ambitious young writers to manufacture hit pop tunes for the stars of the day.

The Brill Building song factory included a roll call of major talents like Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Phil Spector, Gerry Goffin and Carol King, Neil Diamond, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Jeff Barry and Neil Sedaka. These pop music hacks churned out some of the best pop tunes written last century.

As the heyday of the Brill Building was fading in the mid 60s, Don Kirschner headed west to LA, to become the brains behind the Monkees and cartoon super group, the Archies.

Jerry Wexler (one of the bosses at Atlantic Records) recalls that in the late 50s he used to make payola payments (bribes to ensure that artists got airplay) to DJ Alan Freed in the Brill Building cloakroom.

Iroquois Hotel (49 West 44th Street)

In 1951, a young actor named James Dean lived for a while in room 82. In the years since then, many fans have made a pilgrimage to this hotel (including pop starts Morrissey, Billy Bragg, and the Clash). The Iroquois is located next door to the more elegant Algonquin, where Dorothy Parker convened her infamous “round table” in the bar.

Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory (231 E47 Street)

In 1963, Andy Warhol moved his art studio (originally located in the Hook and Ladder Company Building) to this building. The new location was bigger, so that Warhol could complete his larger paintings as well as make movies there. To brighten it up, one of his entourage painted the inside walls completely silver.

Warhol’s “factory” became the centre of a wild bohemian scene that epitomised Sixties New York, and which became the prototype for punk rock in the 70s and 80s, and continues to have an impact on popular culture today.

Andy Warhol adopted the Velvet Underground as his house band in the mid 60s.

After Valerie Solanas shot Warhol outside the building, he relocated the factory to 33 Union Square, which is located not far from Max’s Kansas City.

Like so many other significant buildings in NY the old Silver Factory building has been demolished and a parking lot now stands on the site.

Manny’s Music (156 W. 48th Street)

A small but well formed music store. Its customers have ranged from Jimi Hendrix (who bought his first Fender guitar at the store) to the Ramones (who also bought their first guitars from Manny’s).

Plaza Sound (Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Sixth Avenue and 50th Street)

This studio is best known for the classic debut records made there, including albums by The Ramones, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Blondie, and (a few years later) Sonic Youth. The studios are located upstairs in the art deco Radio City Music Hall, which is part of the Rockefella Plaza complex. Walking tours of Radio City are also available.

Museum of Television and Radio (25 W 52nd St)

The museum’s archives include over 50,000 radio and TV programs, all of which can be played back on small consoles. The programs include early television appearances by the Beatles and Elvis Presley. The museum is open from noon to 6pm (closed on Mondays).

Studio 54/The Ritz (254 W. 54th St)

In the 70s, Studio 54 was the exclusive disco playground of the rich and famous. These days, the building is occupied by The Ritz, a popular concert venue featuring world music, funk and hip-hop

Bloomindales (1000 3rd Ave, at E 59th St)

Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon recorded the film clip for her version of Addicted to Love in a DIY video booth in this department store

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