If you spend your summers conceptualizing novels, scribbling furiously in new notebooks, or staring out the window in a desperate attempt to craft a poem you don’t hate, this article is for you. New York City has an iconic literary history, but spending $20 a day on iced coffees and fighting for an outlet in a busy coffee shop doesn’t feel as romantic or inspired as the lives of past city writers. Ditch the coffee shops and visit one of these famous writing spots. Start paving the way for your own literary masterpiece!
1. The White Horse Tavern, 567 Hudson Street
There are few places with such prestigious literary history as The White Horse Tavern. In the 1950s and ’60s, writers such as Jack Kerouac, Dylan Thomas, Bob Dylan, James Baldwin, and Jim Morrison frequented the pub, drinking and discussing their lives together. Supposedly, Dylan Thomas drank his last whiskey here as well. The pub has a welcoming atmosphere and still serves as a traditional meeting point for writers. If you’re looking for inspiration or just a good place to eat, settle into a booth with a pint and some pen and paper!
2. The New York Public Library, 42nd Street and 5th Avenue
The New York Public Library is every writer’s dream. The sprawling cases of books, grandiose paintings, and iconic oak desks of the Rose Reading Room make this space the perfect capsule for composing greatness. And it has a history of exactly that. Jennifer Egan, Betty Friedan, and E.L. Doctorow composed Ragtime in this library and author of The Power Broker, Robert Caro, wrote his book here too. There are plenty of outlets and the space is always completely silent. If you’re looking for something a little more spectacular than your local coffee shop, make the trip to this library turned landmark!
3. The Housing Works, 130 Crosby Street
The Housing Works is a bookstore with a mission. The nonprofit, all-donation bookstore donates their proceeds to those affected by homelessness and AIDS. Feeling good about picking up a new book is not the only benefit from spending your writing days here, though. The space itself is spacious, stunning, and filled with affordable books to distract you from your own writing if you need a break!
4. The Marlton, 5 West 8th Street
The Marlton hotel is routed in New York City’s beat history. Built over 100 years ago, the writing spot is a haunt for old and new authors alike. Jack Kerouac and Valerie Solanas stayed here back in their day. A.M. Holmes also recently wrote for her collection Days of Awe here. Hang out in the lobby or stay the night in the hopes of crafting your own best seller!
5. The Hotel Chelsea, 222 West 23rd Street
The next recommendation is another hotel and another Jack Kerouac mention. The Hotel Chelsea was a favorite for Mark Twain, Tennessee Williams, Jean-Paul Sartre, Thomas Wolfe, Arthur Miller, Leonard Cohen, Kerouac, and plenty of other writers, artists, and musicians. This talent hotspot has been a cultural icon for more than a century, making it an envious writing spot for anyone who gets the chance to stay.
6. McNally Jackson, Prince Street
If you don’t like the sometimes corporate atmosphere of a Barnes & Nobles, check out independent bookstore McNally Jackson. This cozy writing spot has plenty of books, spaces to write, and scheduled events if you find yourself scribbling away until the evening!
7. The Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street
Spend some time eating or staying at The Algonquin Hotel, a legendary spot for writers in the 1920s. The Algonquin Round Table was a group of New York City writers, actors, and critics who gathered at the Algonquin Hotel for lunch every day between 1919 and 1929. The group referred to themselves as the “Vicious Circle” and produced witticisms that appeared in the newspaper columns of each of the members, keeping the whole country as amused as those attending these luncheons. Members included Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross, Robert Benchley, Franklin Pierce Adams, Heywood Broun, Alexander Woollcott, Harpo Marx, George S. Kaufman, Marc Connelly, Edna Ferber, and Robert Sherwood — a fairly impressive group to take inspiration from!
8. The Poets House, 10 River Terrace
The Poets House is an absolutely stunning public library housing more than 70,000 poetry volumes. The space is light and open to the public, making it a perfect space for budding poets and wordsmiths. This literary center also frequently hosts workshops and events if you need a little extra inspiration!