When I started visiting all 78 locations on the literary map last October for READING THE CITY, I was taunted by the northernmost spot. At the time I only visited locations I could reach on foot during masked walks. I had no idea how long it would be until I…


First I will tell you what the map says about this location, and then I will tell you about the way it made me feel, all rose gold and silver armor. Welcome to Reading the City.

51. S.J. Perelman was a popular humorist like Dalí was a landscape painter. His…


John Cheever moved his young family into an apartment at 400 East 59th Street. His daughter Susan reports that each morning he would put on his one good blue suit and ride the elevator to the basement where there was a small storage cubicle he used as a work space…


The Tower, Rivers and the Soul

Langston Hughes was a leading exponent of the Harlem Renaissance. His first published poem was The Negro Speaks of Rivers in the June 1921 edition of The Crisis Magazine edited by W.E.B. DuBois at offices in 70 Fifth Avenue. …


4. John Franklin Bardin was a nearly forgotten master of intense and imaginative psychological crime fiction. His masterpiece, The Deadly Percheron, published in 1946, features very large horses, ersatz leprechauns, and a harrowing visit to Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital at First Avenue and 30th St.

Welcome to Reading the City .


Kay Thompson lived in The Plaza Hotel, Fifth Avenue at 59th St. also the home of Eloise, whose exploits Thompson chronicled in a series of books that filled generations of precocious six-year-olds with the desire to grow up quickly and become New Yorkers. …


Patricia Highsmith worked temporarily at Bloomingdale’s, 770 Lexington Avenue, during the Christmas rush in 1948. Her crush on an attractive patrician woman customer inspired Highsmith to write The Price of Salt, her one and only pulp romance novel. …


6. Brendan Behan wrote this dedication to his Brendan Behan’s New York while living at the Chelsea Hotel, 222 West 23rd St. “To America, my new-found land: the man that hates you hates the human race.”

Welcome to Reading the City.

The Chelsea Hotel 2020 by Rita J. King

Water poured from the scaffolding around The Chelsea Hotel


Rex Stout installed his “seventh of a ton” behemoth of a detective, Nero Wolfe, in a luxurious brownstone on West 35th St. Although the precise location fluctuates from book to book, there is a plaque at 454 honoring Wolfe and his faithful operative Archie Goodwin.

Welcome to Reading the City.


69. Kurt Vonnegut lived at 226 East 48th St. near Second Avenue for 40 years. He frequented nearby Dag Hammarskjöld Park where he liked to walk his dog, Flour.

Welcome to Reading the City.

Wandering to each location is making me realize I have no real idea what’s in my…

Rita J. King

Co-director, Science House. Futurist, @SciEntEx. Writer. Founder Treasure of the Sirens.

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