New York, New York. The Irish have been comin’ here for years… U2 – New York
Well these Irish boys certainly have been comin’ here for years. U2’s first gig in New York was in 1980 and it’s like they never truly left. I think it is fair to say that New York left an impression on them and they have certainly left an impression on this Big Apple.
And if the hearts of New Yorkers and U2 weren’t inextricably entwined beforehand, U2’s actions in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks certainly cemented the relationship. If I remember correctly, U2 were one of the few artists to not cancel/postpone their shows after 911. They felt strongly that playing, carrying on with life, and music would go a long way towards healing. They played Madison Square Garden just weeks after the terrorist attacks, and by all accounts the shows were incredibly emotional and U2’s tributes to the fallen, deeply touching.
Over the past almost 40 years since their first gig, the band have marked this town. They have played numerous gigs, from the smallest clubs to Yankee Stadium. They have received awards, given press conferences, and lived in this beautiful city. They have even left skin and blood ground in the very earth. (Yes, I’m talking about that bike accident… Please, Bono, be careful!)
With this history, it seemed necessary to create a Fangirl’s Guide to U2’s New York City. So here it is 😀
As with the other guides, I have marked my trusty Frommer’s Day by Day Map with the sites. However, as there are sooooo many sites this time, in so many different areas of the city and surrounding neighbourhoods, it didn’t seem smart to make it a walking map of the sites. It might take days to walk to all this places 😀
So I just listed them by area, beginning with the tip of the city; but, of course, you can start wherever you want to! The the order below matches the numbers on the map. (Thank you U2gigs for the amazing collection of dates and details of U2 New York gigs!) I’ve also listed some of my favourite non-U2 sites that can be found in the areas.
Please note: As with Dublin’s guide, I am purposefully omitting their private residences. I don’t know where they are and I’m avoiding finding out…
Here we go… down the U2 NYC Rabbit Hole…
The Financial District and New York Harbour
1) New York Harbour and the Statue of Liberty: U2 performed Get Out of Your Own Way on a barge in the New York Harbour for the 2018 Grammy Awards. Not sure the exact location, but the Statue of Liberty was to their back stage right… (photo from the above linked article)
2) Brooklyn Bridge: For the release of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb in 2004, U2 performed on a flatbed truck from W 126th Street (Dr Martin Lurther King Jr Boulevard) and Broadway (in Harlem) to the Brooklyn Bridge. They also gave a surprise performance under the bridge. A fellow fan shared that the site of the show took place in what is now part of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Brooklyn side, north of the Bridge. Another fans informed me that the part of the park where this took place is called Empire Fulton Ferry State Park.
- Ellis Island
- Battery Park
- Wall Street, the Charging Bull Statue, and the New York Stock Exchange
- September 11 Memorial
- Irish Hunger Memorial
- Staten Island Ferry (recommended by a fellow fan from the area!)
Lower East Side/SOHO/NOHO/Greenwich Village
3) The Slipper Room (167 Orchard St): U2 performed here with Leonard Cohen on May 19, 2005.
4) Astor Place Theatre (434 Lafayette St.): The New York Premiere of Rattle and Hum, the rockumentary, took place here on November 1, 1988.
5) Kmart – Greenwich Village / East Village (770 Broadway): U2 announced their PopMart tour from the lingerie department in this Kmart department store on February 12, 1997. It was the perfect match for this supermarket-inspired tour – PopMart, KMart… “the latest and greatest in software, hardware, and men’s wear” (Ok, so the quote is from ZooTV, but it fits :)). That’s our boys…
6) The Ritz (now Webster Hall) (125 East 11th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues, in the East Village): U2 played their first American gig on December 6, 1980 at this nightclub. According to this article, U2 were relatively unknown at the time, but they were so engaging that the venue asked them back for four shows the next year. Bono also joined The Alarm on stage at The Ritz for a song in 1983.
It apparently closed for renovations in 2017 and will reopen in 2020ish as a concert venue (I’m guessing on the year with my mad math skills – the article mentions a 3 year period of renos…).
7) Electric Lady Studios (52 West Eighth Street): U2 have used this recording studio on a number of occasions and even gave a rooftop performance on May 31, 2013.
8) Nell’s Night Club (46 W. 14th St.): Phil Joanou’s video for One (the nightclub version) was filmed here. The parts of Bono smoking were filmed upstairs. The nightclub (later known as Plumm) has since closed.
9) Irving Plaza (17 Irving Pl): U2 gave a free concert at this ballroom venue for 1000 people on December 5, 2000 as part of the All That You Can’t Leave Behind promo tour.
Addendum: Whitney Museum (99 Gansevoort Street): I am loving all the suggestions for U2 NYC sites from fellow fans that are coming in for this blog! Another fan suggested this museum be added, as Adam is known to visit it on occasion. He is definitely an art museum geek. 😀
- Greenwich Village
The High Line
10) The High Line: On December 1, 2017, U2 gave a surprise performance of Get Out of Your Own Way just under the High Line at 26th street.
11) Jacob K. Javits Convention Center (655 W 34th St): Bono sang two songs (with Mary J. Blige) for the Robin Hood Foundation fundraiser on May 13, 2013
12) Madison Square Garden (4 Pennsylvania Plaza): U2 have a long history with MSG – their first headlining concert was on April 1, 1985 for the Unforgettable Fire Tour. Since then they have held 25 headlining shows and one Grammy’s performance at the Garden (As of the time I am writing this post. They are due for three performances this June for the Experience and Innocence Tour – two shows of which I luckily get to attend!)
13) Hammerstein Ballroom (311 W 34th St): The band (or just Bono) played here on October 29, 2001, October 25, 2007, and April 29, 2016 for charity event performances.
14) Rattle and Hum Bar (East: 14 East 33rd Street – Between Madison & 5th Avenue and West: 306 W 39th St): Last time I was in NYC, I came across this bar called Rattle and Hum… as far as I know there is no connection to U2 other than the name. There are 2 locations: 1) East: 14 East 33rd Street – Between Madison & 5th Avenue; and 2) West: 306 W 39th St. Google is calling them a craft beer bar with American food 🙂
15) The Cutting Room (44 E 32nd St): performance on July 29, 2015.
- Pennsylvania Station
- The Empire State Building
16) New York Public Library (476 5th Ave): The band performed here for the post-premiere party for the movie The Hands that Built America (December 9, 2002).
17) Grand Central Subway Station: On May 6, 2015, U2 and Jimmy Fallon dressed up in disguise and started busking in the depths of the Grand Central Subway Station.
18) United Nations Headquarters (405 E 42nd Street (46th St & 1st Ave)): On June 5, 2013, Bono serenaded Warren Buffet at the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy. And then, you know, Bono, humanitarian work, UN…. lots of visits for One, etc.
19) Waldorf – Astoria Hotel (301 Park Ave): The boys have attended a number of Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductions at the Waldorf, including their own on March 14, 2005.
- If you go to the UN for the U2 relevance, be sure to take the tour – its pretty cool to sit in the room where the leaders of the world sit and debate global issues…
- Chrysler Building – oh how I adore this Art Deco Masterpiece!
20) Times Square: U2 performed in Times Square for World AIDS Day on December 1, 2014. As this was shortly after Bono’s bike accident, he was unable to show up. The other three came on as “U2 Minus 1” and had Chris Martin of Coldplay, Carrie Underwood and Bruce Springsteen take the lyrics.
21) Playstation Theatre (1515 Broadway): On June 26, 2017, the MusiCares MAP Fund awarded Adam Clayton with the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award for his work on addiction. His three buds performed three songs with him.
22) MTV Studios
23) Marriott Marquis Hotel (1535 Broadway): On February 21, 2003, MusiCares presented Bono with the Person of the Year award.
24) Copacabana (8th Avenue, 268 W 47th St): On September 07, 1999, Bono performs with Wyclef Jean for the VH1 special Wyclef and Friends. The following day, they perform again, this time for the Wyclef Jean Foundation’s Caribbean Soiree benefit concert.
25. NBC Studios and Top of the Rock (30 and 45 Rockefeller Plaza): U2 have been guests on Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon, and Late Night With Conan O’Brien on a number of occasions – all of which are are filmed in the NBC Studios, located in the historic Rockefeller Plaza. Their first major TV appearance also took place in these studios – for the Tomorrow Show on May 30, 1981. They also performed on the Top of The Rock for the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. For exact dates on appearances and songs played, interview notes, go to U2gig’s fantastic NYC listing here.
26. Radio City Music Hall (1260 6th Ave): This is where the Edge broke his Explorer guitar (accidentally) mid-song while trying to stop a fight in the crowd. (December 3, 1984 on The Unforgettable Fire Tour). They also received a Grammy here in 1994 for Best Alternative Album – Zooropa.
28. Ed Sullivan Theatre (697–1699 Broadway, between West 53rd and West 54th): The home of the Late Show with David Letterman. U2 have either played/guested on the show approximately eight times, including a stint of five consecutive shows in 2009 for the No Line on The Horizon promo tour.
29. Carnegie Hall (881 7th Ave): On October 4, 2009, the boys played a set for An Evening With Gavin Friday And Friends, Gavin Friday’s 50th birthday concert, held by Product (Red) to support the fight against AIDS.
On December 1, 2015, Bono and Edge perform a set for A Night of Music: Celebrating 10 Years of One and (Red).
Addendum: Stuyvesant Music (We Buy Guitars) (161 W. 48th Street): The Edge bought his Gibson Explorer at The Stuyvesant Music in 1978 while he and his family were on vacation in NYC. Another fellow fan suggested this may be the location of where that store was, however, please note it is not there anymore.
- ummm…. BROADWAY PLAYS!!!!
- Museum of Modern Art
Central Park and Area
30. Lincoln Center (10 Lincoln Center Plaza): On November 3, 2005, Bono and Alicia Keys sang Peter Gabriel’s Don’t Give Up at the Keep A Child Alive fundraiser.
31. Metropolitan Opera House (30 Lincoln Center Plaza): U2 performed at the MTV Music Video Awards.
32. Central Park: Somewhere in here is where Bono had his bike accident in 2014. The band also played two songs here in 1986 at an Anti-Apartheid rally.
33. American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West & 79th St): Bono and Edge performed in the Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life room for the 2017 American Museum of Natural History Gala (November 30, 2017). Apparently the Model of the whale was their backdrop!
34. Bemelman’s Bar (Carlyle Hotel – 35 E 76th St): Bono joined Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch for an unplanned guest performance on November 4, 2012.
35. Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 5th Ave): In 1999-2000, the Metropolitan Museum of Art housed Rock Style, an exhibit of fashion worn by various rock stars, including Bono. (Please note: The exhibit is no longer there.)
And then there is this photo of Bono and artist Imran Qureshi at the Museum…
- The Dakota – John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived here. I think Yoko still does. (edited: ok… I don’t like adding existing residences of the band, but since I already have this on the list for John and Yoko, a fan has let me know that Bono apparently also has a residence here…. please do not stalk the band…. )
- Strawberry Fields (Central Park) – a lovely tribute to John Lennon mere steps from the Dakota.
- The Frick Collection
Harlem and Beyond
36. Lenox Lounge (288 Lenox Ave): September 11, 2011 – Another impromptu performance, this time with Bono joining Lafayette Harris and his jazz trio to sing Night And Day. On May 17, 2012, he did another spontaneous performance at the lounge. (The Lounge is apparently no longer here – its a new building that houses a Sephora! Gasp!)
37. Apollo Theatre (253 West 125th Street, between Adam Clayton (!!!) Powell Jr. Boulevard and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem): Part of the performance video for the Angel of Harlem music video was filmed in this famous theatre. Bono also performed Angel of Harlem here for a Jazz Foundation of America’s benefit concert on May 17, 2012.
The band played an amazing, intimate show at the Apollo on June 11, 2018. “When Love Comes to Town with horns was amazing! wish I had been there!
38. Dr Martin Lurther King Jr Boulevard and Broadway: This is the starting location of the flatbed truck performance mentioned in the second site listed above (Brooklyn).
39. Yankee Stadium: The boys played 2 shows on the ZooTV tour in 1992.
40. Fordham University: On March 6, 2009, U2 gave a surprise concert at Fordham University’s Edward’s Parade.
41. Red Rooster (310 Lenox Ave): A fellow U2 fan has informed me that all of the band stopped in this famous eatery in 2013!
42. Greater Calvary Church (50-50 West 124th Street – between 7th and 8th Avenues): This is the church where U2 recorded I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For with the Harlem gospel choir New Voices of Freedom for Rattle and Hum.
- Cathedral od St. John the Divine
- National Jazz Museum
- The Studio Museum
- Graffiti Hall of Fame
- Rucker Park
And there you go… U2 in New York!
I’m sure there must be a ton of other locations with U2 history or relevance in this fair city – if you know of any that I’ve missed, please let me know.
Posted in: Rock God Cities and Sites