6 NYC Literary Destinations For Every Newbie New Yorker

6 NYC Literary Destinations For Every Newbie New Yorker

New York City, the never-sleeping and ever-glittering metropolis, holds a well-known grasp on adult literary culture. But the city also figures prominently in the cannons of the coming of age literature — its largess, beauty, and squalor being the perfect canvases for the growing mind. Here are six classic NYC spots from novels and memoirs that any literature lover should visit: 

1. Washington Square, 'Washington Square'

Henry James set Washington Square in the now fabulously unspoiled Greek Revival houses along the north side of the regal park that was once home to the upper-class denizens of 19th-century high society. James wrote, "The ideal of quiet and of genteel retirement, in 1835, was found in Washington Square … [T]his portion of New York appears to many persons the most delectable. It has a kind of established repose which is not of frequent occurrence in other quarters of the long, shrill city; it has a riper, richer, more honourable look than any of the upper ramifications of the great longitudinal thoroughfare — the look of having had something of a social history."

2. The Plaza, 'Eloise'

Eloise, Kay Thompson's famous 1951 children's book, begins with "I am Eloise. I am a city child. I live at the Plaza. There is a lobby which is enormously large with marble pillars and ladies in it and a revolving door …" The book's brilliant and punchy illustrations transform the hotel into an equally glamorous and eccentric playhouse for the precocious child.

The landmark hotel, which is located at 758 5th Avenue, also makes an appearance in The Great Gatsby and Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries. Today, its façade is covered in a faux-building muslin sheath. However, if you find yourself in Midtown in need of a bite (and an Eloise-themed boutique), the Plaza's downstairs food court certainly delivers.

3. The duck pond, Central Park, 'The Catcher in the Rye'

Near the end of J.D. Salinger's 1951 über-classic coming of age story, Holden Caufield visited the duck pond in Central Park and, in a rare moment of empathy for an otherwise alienated teenager, wonders to himself where all the ducks go in the winter. The answer is that the majority of ducks remain in the park, but about 240 species migrate each fall and spring.

4. Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn'

Betty Smith's 1943 tale center on an Irish-American family who lived on Lorimer Street, "on the top floor instead of the ground floor. There was no stoop as a store occupied the street floor of the house. There was no bathroom and the toilet was in the hall and shared by two families." If you walk to the intersection of Metropolitan and Lorimer, you can see the Williamsburg Bridge and the skyscrapers in the distance from the same view as Francis Nolan.

5. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 'From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler'

In E.L. Konigsburg's 1967 From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, 12-year-old Claudia and 9-year-old Jamie run away from home and settle in the revered Metropolitan Museum of Art. In order to maintain their residence, the children hide amongst school tours, sleep in bathrooms and antique beds, and bathe in fountains. According to the DVD commentary for Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums, the book served as the inspiration for Margo and Richie's escape to an unnamed museum.

6. The Chelsea Hotel, 'Just Kids'

The hotel — located at 222 West 23rd Street — has been the home of numerous writers, musicians, artists, and actors, including Bob Dylan, Charles Bukowski, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Iggy Pop, and Patti Smith. Smith, both a musician and writer, spent much of her time there as she grew her career as an artist and her friendship with photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe. She wrote of the hotel in her memoir, Just Kids, "The hotel is an energetic, desperate haven for scores of gifted hustling children from every rung of the ladder. Guitar bums and stoned-out beauties in Victorian dresses. Junkie poets, playwrights, broke-down filmmakers, and French actors. Everybody passing through here is somebody, if not in the outside world."

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Emily Barasch

Emily is a writer living in New York. Her writing has appeared on theatlantic.com and dowser.org. She graduated from Yale where she was Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Herald.

MORE FROM

HBO programming president defends ‘Confederate,’ says network is “standing by” the writers

“We could’ve done a better job with the press rollout,” HBO programming president Casey Bloys admitted.

‘Game of Thrones’: These are the funniest people to follow on Twitter for live updates

A good tweet is the best antidote to scenes like Sam cutting open Mormont's greyscale sores.

Let’s overanalyze these ‘Game of Thrones’ photos from “The Queen’s Justice”

Jon Snow's going to meet his Aunt Daenerys.

‘Dunkirk’ is a Christopher Nolan movie that doesn’t need to be solved

For his new World War II epic, the puzzle-focused filmmaker decided to adjust his approach to storytelling.

Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson talk ‘Broad City’ season 4 and their prayers for Hillary Clinton

"Art has just become exponentially more political since the election," Glazer said.

Jenny Slate’s raw, honest exploration of female sexuality is the most riveting part of ‘Landline’

Gillian Robespierre and Elisabeth Holm's new film lets its women characters express their sexual desires on their own terms.

HBO programming president defends ‘Confederate,’ says network is “standing by” the writers

“We could’ve done a better job with the press rollout,” HBO programming president Casey Bloys admitted.

‘Game of Thrones’: These are the funniest people to follow on Twitter for live updates

A good tweet is the best antidote to scenes like Sam cutting open Mormont's greyscale sores.

Let’s overanalyze these ‘Game of Thrones’ photos from “The Queen’s Justice”

Jon Snow's going to meet his Aunt Daenerys.

‘Dunkirk’ is a Christopher Nolan movie that doesn’t need to be solved

For his new World War II epic, the puzzle-focused filmmaker decided to adjust his approach to storytelling.

Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson talk ‘Broad City’ season 4 and their prayers for Hillary Clinton

"Art has just become exponentially more political since the election," Glazer said.

Jenny Slate’s raw, honest exploration of female sexuality is the most riveting part of ‘Landline’

Gillian Robespierre and Elisabeth Holm's new film lets its women characters express their sexual desires on their own terms.