This week, we've been reading Inigo Thomas's diary in Slate; he's been writing about "Bohemian New York," and the entries are part travelogue, part history of a different kind of life:
There's no bohemia in today's New York. Nothing resembles Greenwich Village in its various incarnations from the turn of the 20th century to the 1960s, or the art-scene East Village of the late 1970s and 1980s, or Williamsburg in the early 1990s. You can try to find bohemia in far-away Bushwick or Red Hook, both districts of Brooklyn. You can go over the Hudson to the disused warehouses of Jersey City; to Harlem; or even across the harbor to Staten Island, where, in the 1950s, in a house near the ferry terminal, the bohemian critic and Henry James scholar Marius Bewley threw legendary weekendlong parties at which he sometimes dressed as a cardinal, so legendary that I heard about these gatherings across the ocean, in London, 40 years on. But you don't come to find such a place, do you? You come to live the life.
This got Gothamist thinking about what we know as bohemian - and this isn't counting all the ex-hippies who got lucky with their Park Slope real estate. There's the Bohemian Beer Hall in Astoria and, um...Thomas is right, we have no idea what we're talking about. Luckily The Morning News sussed out bohemian-ness in NYC last year (there are pretty maps!). And there's also Christine Stansell's book, Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century, which covers turn-of-the-century NY. And Thomas's Slate entries also have some nice links to other books that inform on the matter.