If music is the lifeblood of New York City, then rock and roll is its heartbeat. A rock renaissance began in the new millennium, when bands such as The Strokes and The Walkmen hit the scene. Today, the city is home to countless homespun garage-rock projects as well as critical darlings such as The National, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Grizzly Bear. But a lot went on here before indie-rock was part of the lexicon: Punk, glam, folk, hip-hop and hard rock all have deep roots in the city. Here's our guide to the city's top rock and roll destinations.
STRAWBERRY FIELDS, Central Park West at 72nd Street, Manhattan
The "Imagine" mosaic is the centerpiece of this section of Central Park, dedicated to the memory of John Lennon, who lived (and was murdered) across the street. Impromptu sing-alongs, candlelight vigils and poetry readings are not out of the ordinary here.
CHELSEA HOTEL, 222 W. 23rd St., Manhatta, 212-243-3700, hotelchelsea.com
Rockers as varied as Alice Cooper, Janis Joplin, Sid Vicious, Jimi Hendrix and Dee Dee Ramone have all put in their time at the Chelsea Hotel. Perhaps most famous as the site where Nancy Spungen (Sid Vicious' girlfriend) was found murdered in 1978, the hotel still attracts artists and musicians, though it no longer allows long-term residencies.
WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK
Helmed by the newly restored arch at the foot of Fifth Avenue in downtown Manhattan, the park has been the site of countless protests and sit-ins. It is bounded by Waverly Place, West Fourth Street, McDougal Street and University Place, and it was the center of the 1960s musical and political scenes.
KNITTING FACTORY, 361 Metropolitan Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 347-529-6696, knittingfactory.com
Recently relocated to hipster-heaven Williamsburg from lower Manhattan, this NYC rock stalwart continues to draw the best of up-and-coming bands and the fans who love them.
Hosting local indie alt-rock darlings and touring rock shows, the Bowery Ballroom always has someone interesting headlining. Upcoming shows include kooky British rockers ArtBrut (Nov. 15) and festival-circuit favorites Particle (Nov. 21).
SOUTH PAW, 125 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn, 718-230-0236; spsounds.com
TRASH BAR, 256 Grand St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 718-599-1000, thetrashbar.com
True to its name, Trash Bar is a sweaty, gritty club in Williamsburg. The crowd is young and energetic and the music is loud.
SHOPS TO VISIT
Bleecker Bob's Record Store, 118 W. Third St., Manhattan, 212-475-9677
A mecca of vinyl and LPs, everything from rock and jazz to house is stocked here in the well-worn Village haunt. For CDs, try Other Music.
A haven for music lovers seeking alternative rock, hip-hop, electronic and more.
JOHN VARVATOS, 315 Bowery at Bleecker Street, Manhattan, 212-358-0315
The punk rock spirit lives on at this high-end men's clothing shop, formerly CBGB, with rock memorabilia on display and souvenirs for sale. The Ramones, Blondie and Talking Heads all got their start at the now-defunct nightspot.
DARE DEVIL TATTOO, 174 Ludlow St., Manhattan, 212-533-8303; daredeviltattoo.com
Dare Devil is tattoo home base for many an inked New Yorker, including rocker bad girl and former Runaway Joan Jett.
See the powerful impact photography had on creating the myths and legends of rock and roll in a new exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, featuring Elton John, Tina Turner and Little Richard. Through Jan. 31.
Rock Junke: NYC Walking Tours, 212-696-6578, rockjunket.com
Hosting everything from glam rock tours to Bob Dylan and Beatles tours, the enthusiastic staff of this East Village-based company walks its clients through the history of rock music in New York City. Tours cost $29; check Web site for details.