Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky’s Apartment

Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky’s Apartment

704 E 5th St, New York, NY 10009


One of the apartments that Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky shared was located in a fairly rough part of the Lower East Side.


Poets Cross Paths on the Lower East Side


Ed Sanders met many interesting and prominent people during this time, but nothing compared to the thrill of befriending Allen Ginsberg, who lived on the Lower East Side. “When I was first exploring New York City in 1958 and 1959,” Sanders enthused, “I never thought in a cycle of centuries that I’d ever become friends with such a hero.” He first met Ginsberg in front of Gem Spa, a newsstand located on St. Mark’s Place that sold chocolate egg creams for a quarter. St. Mark’s Place was a three-block street that terminated on its east side at Avenue A, in front of Tompkins Square Park, and to the west of Second Avenue it turned into East Eighth Street—a major throughway to Greenwich Village. Gem Spa was a popular hangout, where poet Ted Berrigan held court, smoking unfiltered Chesterfields while surrounded by younger poets such as Andrei Codrescu. “It was my first time staying in New York and I’m having a wonderful extraterrestrial floating experience,” Codrescu recalled. “I saw Ted outside Gem Spa, and I just rushed him and said, ‘Ted, I’m on acid!’ And Ted just looked at me and he said, ‘Yeah. I always wondered how it would feel to kill somebody on acid.’ And I just thought it was the greatest, most wonderful thing to say. I just followed him around like a puppy for the rest of the day.” (Berrigan also founded his own mimeographed zine, C: A Journal of Poetry.)

From Chapter 5 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore