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’.