What happened to the grimy New York of yesteryear that brought us the likes of Lou Reed, the poetic punk of Patti Smith, and the raw energy of The Ramones? Let’s see what some iconic music launch pads look like today.
The Academy of Music/The Palladium
The Palladium, earlier known as the Academy of Music, became popular as a rock venue after the 1971 closure of the Fillmore East. Bands like the Rolling Stones and The Band played here throughout the 60’s and as the punk and new wave took over in the 70’s it played host to Iggy Pop, The Fall, and the Patti Smith Group, among others. The Clash made their stateside debut here – this is where the iconic photo of Clash bassist Paul Simonon smashing his guitar was taken. Studio 54 owners Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager turned it into a nightclub in the 80’s, but the property was bought by NYU in the late 90’s and turned into student housing.
Max’s Kansas City
One of the most legendary spots of the downtown scene, Max’s was opened in 1965 by Micky Ruskin and quickly became the hangout of choice for artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Bob Neuwirth, and Andy Warhol and his Factory crowd. The Velvet Underground played here, and it was the de-facto heart of the glam rock scene. Max’s closed in December 1974 as gam rock was on its way out.
The Factory was the Andy Warhol’s NYC studio – there were actually three “Factories” in the years between 1962 and Warhol’s death in 1984, but here we’ll focus on the original Factory on East 47th St. This is where the Velvet Underground were born and where Warhol shot most of his films during the golden age of the Warhol superstars like Edie Sedgwick, Baby Jane Holzer, and Candy Darling.
It wasn’t called the Factory for nothing. It was where the assembly line for the silkscreens happened. While one person was making a silkscreen, somebody else would be filming a screen test. Every day something new. – John Cale, 2002
The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line opened in 1974 in Greenwich Village and made its mark in the 70’s and 80’s as a venue for a wide range of performers including a young Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou Harris, and Tom Waits. Lou Reed recorded the album Live: Take No Prisoners here. Alas, this venue too was swallowed up by New York University’s sprawling campus.
Who didn’t play here? The ultimate symbol of the 70’s music scene and beyond, this iconic East Village venue held strong for about three decades. In the early 2000’s the club had increasing issues surrounding unpaid rent and in 2006 the club’s lease was not renewed. Patti Smith played CBGB’s last show on October 15, 2006. CBGB’s famous awning was moved to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the space is now occupied by fashion designer John Varvatos.
Richard Hell leaving CBGB’s in 1977, taken by CBGB’s house photographer David Godlis. Read about Godlis and see more photos from that seminal era at Mashable.
Mercer Arts Kitchen
The Mercer Arts Center opened in 1971 in the derelict University Hotel at 240 Mercer St. To help pay for renovations, the Center offered its unused space to punk bands and it quickly became a focal point of the downtown scene. Max’s Kansas City was closed, and up and coming bands like The New York Dolls, The Modern Lovers, and Suicide turned to the Mercer Arts Center’s inexpensive venue to launch the second wave of the punk and new wave scene until the building unexpectedly collapsed on August 3, 1973.
Check out this account of the Mercer Arts Center’s rise and (literal) fall in Narratively.