Tea in Bellevue

The entry to the historic Bellevue Hospital in New York City, famous for its psychiatric wards which have housed a long list of artists, writers, musicians and actors.

As a result of treating so many of New York’s artistic community over the years, it has turned up in many works of art as a result.

For example, jazz great Charles Mingus named one of his tracks Lock ‘Em Up (Hellview of Bellevue) after spending time on the wards.

Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, also a one time resident featured it in his epic poem Howl:

who talked continuously seventy hours from park to
pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge,
lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping
down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills

In fact, Ginsberg met fellow writer and then fellow patient Carl Solomon in the institution, to whom he dedicated Howl.

If you want a good overview of the hospital’s history New York Magazine has an excellent 2008 article that looks at the high and lowlights of its long existence.

Rather prosaically, I visited and had a cup of tea in the auditorium.

Link to New Yorker article ‘Checkout Time at the Asylum’.

3 thoughts on “Tea in Bellevue”

  1. From several months worth of personal observations scattered over a couple of years…

    Such places seem to the best place to meet poets, artists, composers, song writers, musicians and all round rather interesting and nice people.

    I’m starting think modern society is becoming incompatible with creativity and decency.

    No, I don’t mean “decency” in the sense of keeping clothes on. I mean it in the sense of fundamental honesty, kindness, “wouldn’t hurt a fly”, incapable of being nasty and unable to tolerate nastiness.

    Alas, since they tend to be a rather mixed bag ranging from BPI in manic mode to situational depression to depressives to schizo’s to BPD to …

    The first and main impression of most people tends to be of the noisier overt unusual behaviour rather than long term observation of the quieter hurting souls.

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