A look the celebrity power of Bank Street

The small street in Greenwich Village played host to musicians John Lennon and Sid Viscous
May 31, 2014 04:00PM

Bank Street, a small six-block street in Greenwich Village, has the unique distinction of playing host to an odd assortment of notables, including Sid Vicious, congresswoman Bella Abzug, the real-life Auntie Mame, John Lennon and Yoko Ono. 

“Bank Street is the quintessential Jane Jacobs Greenwich Village block, the quintessential urban street,” said Roberta Brandes Gratz, the author of “The Battle for Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs.” “When Jane wrote, she used her nearby block, Hudson, as a window into the rhythm of an urban street, a street representing multiple income levels, professions and generations. This sort of street made it easy to be friendly with your neighbors.”

But while many New York City streets have rich histories, the celebrity power that accumulated over the years on Bank Street has made it notable.

Most famously, Sex Pistols bassist Sid Viscous overdosed on heroin in his girlfriend’s apartment on Bank Street.

“I want people to understand what it was like to grow up here,” said Donna Florio, a neighborhood historian and life-long resident of Bank Street. “The street took me in, opened doors and taught me about life. It’s really the story of New York, the story of America. You talk to your neighbors, and you realize that everyone has something to say. That helps you connect.”

Florio recalls spilling a watering can from her window in the late 1970s on John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

“Yoko scowled,” Florio said. “But John just smiled, shook the water off his hair and said, ‘No worries.’ ” [NYT] Christopher Cameron