clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Where Literature Lived: Plimpton, Salinger, Ginsberg, and More!

New, 3 comments

When George Plimpton founded and began editing the now-famous literary journal The Paris Review in 1953, little did he know he'd hold that post until his death 50 years later. Under his editorship, the Review became the most respected literary journal in the country. Plimpton was also known in New York for his lavish entertaining, usually in his apartment upstairs from the magazine headquarters at 541 East 72nd Street (above), a townhouse nestled on a quiet cul-de-sac overlooking the East River. Despite lying well off the beaten path, Plimpton's apartment parties regularly drew crowds. Today, with the Paris Review headquarters relocated to Tribeca, the block is even quieter and apartments in the building now trade without mention of Plimpton or his literary journal.

? On the opposite end of the social spectrum from Plimpton lies the late famous recluse J.D. Salinger. After his acclaimed 1951 novel Catcher in the Rye made him an overnight celebrity, Salinger spent just two years in NYC before unwanted public attention drove him to a life of seclusion in rural Cornish, N.H. Fiercely protective of his privacy, Salinger took up residence in this wooden house for the remainder of his life.

Photos: EV Grieve

? The beat poet Allen Ginsberg was far from a recluse, and often invited scores of struggling artists and writers to join him in his fourth-floor walk-up at 437 East 12th Street in NYC's East Village. Ginsberg kept three separate apartments in the building and lived there for 21 years. Following his death, the apartment was gut-renovated and offered for rent at $1,700 per month. Sounds like a slap in the face to remaining Village bohemians, but the place rented within days.

? Like Ginsberg, Hunter S. Thompson, the father of Gonzo journalism, was noted for his provocative missives and counter-cultural bent. So where did that all start? In this house in Louisville, Ky., where a young Thompson allegedly painted the "gates of hell" on his bedroom floor and once shot a bullet through the floor and into the family china cabinet.

? F. Scott Fitzgerald, that storied chronicler of the Jazz Age, was born in 1896 in this luxury apartment building in St. Paul, Minn. He didn't see much of it though, as the Fitzgerald family moved frequently in his childhood, occupying two different apartments in St. Paul before moving to Syracuse, N.Y. in 1898.
· 541 East 72nd Street #1E1R [Streeteasy]
· Allen Ginsberg Gives This East Village Rental a Backstory [Curbed NY]
· For sale: Hunter S. Thompson’s childhood home — bullet holes, Gates of Hell not included [Lexington Herald-Leader]
· 481 Laurel Avenue [St. Paul Minnesota Real Estate Blog]