Over the past four centuries, St. Marks Place (and, if you pick nits, the area that would become St. Marks Place) has been ground zero for innumerable political and cultural movements, almost all of which are detailed in journalist Ada Calhoun’s fascinating new book, St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Street. The street’s propensity to attract revolutionaries, free spirits, intellectuals, and future (or former) counterculture leaders is something Calhoun knows a little something about. She was raised there. Through exhaustive research and vivid storytelling, Calhoun recounts the happenings and personalities that dotted both the literal and metaphorical landscape of the iconic East Village street. Time and time again, St. Marks has shifted from rich to poor, immigrant to native, hippie to punk. And Calhoun covers it all in breezy, effortless prose that makes reading about the seventeenth century as interesting as the juiciest bits about the Ramones.
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