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In search of John Lennon's New York

The window at Cafe La Fortuna

The window at Cafe La Fortuna Credit: Rolando Pujol

The window of the now defunct Cafe La Fortuna was teeming with John Lennon memorabilia.

There is perhaps no more poignant an image of John Lennon than the one captured of him on a Manhattan rooftop in August 1974 wearing the iconic New York City T-shirt his photographer had bought for the shoot. The shirt and the shoot both came to symbolize Lennon’s love of New York, where he could be himself and craft his post-Beatles career starting in the early 1970s. Here are some Gotham spots that figured in his short but memorable time in New York.

• 105 Bank St: Lennon and wife Yoko Ono lived in a tiny apartment in “arty farty” Greenwich Village, as Lennon once put it, in the early 1970s, shortly after the Beatles broke up and before his so-called “Lost Weekend” – a period when he separated from Ono and lived in Los Angeles.

• The Dakota, 1 W. 72nd St.: The couple moved to this classic apartment house for what turned out to be Lennon’s final years. It was here that Lennon eventually found domestic harmony and savored the comforts of Upper West Side life in what he thought was a secure building, where he was one of many celebrity residents and could live in relative peace. His refuge would become his place of death.

• Record Plant Studio, 321 W. 44th St.: It’s here that Lennon recorded albums including “Walls and Bridges” after returning from L.A., cleaned up and sober. It’s also here that he held his last recording session on the day he was gunned down.

• Central Park and Strawberry Field: Lennon, Ono and their young son Sean often visited the park near their home. It’s here that Lennon is memorialized in the Strawberry Fields mosaic, which was dedicated in 1985 on what would have been his 45th birthday.

• Café La Fortuna, 69 W. 71st St.: This cafe was near his Dakota apartment and was a favorite haunt of the music legend. It survived as a shrine to Lennon’s years in New York until its bittersweet closing in 2008. A hardware store stands in its place.

* Charivari: John shopped at this now shuttered boutique for fancy duds, including a beloved fur coat, according to record producer Jack Douglas.

• Smith’s Bar & Grill, 701 Eighth Ave.: “LennonNYC” director Michael Epstein said Lennon enjoyed the hamburgers at this old-school joint in what was then a much seedier stretch of Times Square.

• 92nd Street Y: Lennon and his son Sean swam here, just as countless regular dads did then and still do.

 

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