Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #21

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950)


Of the many radical and freewheeling artists and poets of Greenwich Village’s bright and merry heyday, none personified its bohemian vibe half so perfectly as the first winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Edna St. Vincent Millay. Named in honor of the neighborhood hospital that saved her uncle’s life, Millay wrote about love and life and sex and the city. Famously “burning her candle at both ends”, her greatest poem Recuerdo chronicles an all-night celebration with her lover, going back and forth on the Staten Island Ferry. As passionate about the spoken word as much as the written, Millay was loved for her voice and was a participant in the Provincetown Playhouse and one of the founding members of the Cherry Lane Theatre. She had several apartments in Greenwich Village over time, most famously at 75½ Bedford Street, the narrowest building in town. The tiny home was right across the street from Chumley’s, the legendary speakeasy that was wallpapered with the dust jackets of its many literary customers.


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