Village People: Allen Ginsberg
(This post is part of a series called Village People: A Who’s Who of Greenwich Village, which will explore some of this intern’s favorite Village people and stories.)
We all know Allen Ginsberg. He lived in the East Village for more than thirty years, with his partner, Peter Orlovsky. He met Lucien Carr, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs while studying at Columbia University, and with them among others, formed the center of the Beat generation. After graduating, they migrated south to the Village, where they all but took over cafes and bars like the Minetta Tavern, the Gaslight Café, Café Wha?, the Kettle of Fish, and the San Remo Café. In 1952-1953, he and Burroughs (his lover at the time) shared an apartment at 206 East 7th Street.
In 1954, he went to San Francisco, spreading the influence of the Beats and meeting members of the San Francisco Renaissance, including James Broughton, Robert Duncan, Madeline Gleason, and Kenneth Rexroth. In 1955, he held a reading at the Six Gallery which is now famous for bringing together the East and West Coast factions of the Beat movement. It was the first public presentation of ‘Howl.’
While in San Francisco, Ginsberg also met and fell in love with Peter Orlovsky, who would become his lifelong partner. Together, they left California in 1957, travelling to Morocco, Paris, and India through the late 1950s and early 1960s. They also kept an apartment at 170 East 2nd Street from 1958 to 1961, and then at 704 East 5th Street in 1964-1965.
In 1965, the couple moved to 408 East 10th Street, where they would live for ten years until moving to 437 East 12th Street, their home for the next twenty-one years. Finally, they settled at 404 East 14th Street. They had just moved in when Ginsberg was diagnosed with liver cancer in 1996. He died in April of 1997. Orlovsky died thirteen years later, in 2010.