As I was looking at the Mosaic Lampposts on 8th Street and St Marks Place, I tried to remember what the street looked like back in the late 60’s. I was not part of the culture but simply a tourist looking at the strange goings-on in the East Village. The street was crowded and wild with activity. All kinds of shops were filled with drug stuff, clothing and skull head jewelry along with a “nice” smell floating through the air.
Beginning during Prohibition, 80 Saint Marks Place was a vital destination for performers of all kinds. It was a speakeasy where Jazz greats such as Thelonious Monk, Harry “Sweets” Edison, John Coltrane and Frank Sinatra performed here before Theatre 80 was established.
At Theatre 80 the careers of many famous performers were launched. Some of the famous names are Gary Burghoff, and Billy Crystal. During the 1970s and 80s as a film revival house, people were able to see vintage films on a movie theatre screen in an audience setting in Theatre 80.
It was also visited by a host of great names in theater, many of whom left their names, foot and hand prints in the cement of the sidewalk. A partial list includes Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford, Myrna Loy, Ruby Keeler, Joan Blondell, Kitty Carlisle and Joan Rivers.
If you want to guess
NAMES OF ACTORS ARE AT VERY END OF BLOG
In 2007, Theatre 80 was restored. As part of this restoration, the Museum of the American Gangster and William Barnacle Tavern was opened.( William Barnacle Tavern is named after William “Barnacle Bill” Scott, a merchant sailor who was often called the “mayor” of Tompkins Square Park.)
The theater still presents a range of productions from traditional forms such as Shakespearean theater and flamenco dance, to the cutting edge avant-garde and works from new authors.
St Marks Place still attracts hordes of young people throughout the day and night to its bars, restaurants, karaoke spots, clothing stores, tattoo parlours, and e-cigarette shops. The street on Friday and Saturday nights thrums with laughter, conversation and music until the early hours. “Walking on St Marks Place on a weekend night, you become aware of a rhythm,It is still a countercultural magnet, and as a resident myself, I can attest to the fact that “crusty punks” with pit bulls and the odd group of cannabis-smoking teenagers can at times still provide a bracingly antisocial air. The street has not been completely sanitised yet,”
“The street today is safer and more pleasant than at any point in the last fifty years,”