N, R at 8th St.-NYU; 6 at Astor Pl.; F at Second Ave.
An East Village landmark dating back to 1799, St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery is hallowed ground for devotees of avant-garde arts and local Episcopalians alike. Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham danced here in the 20s and 30s, and the cutting-edge Danspace Project, founded in 1974, continues that legacy with a full schedule of performances in the airy, open main hall. Literature has been just as revered: The late, great Allen Ginsberg was a recurring participant in the church's resident Poetry Project (a nationally recognized force). Furthermore, St. Mark's has been a happy home for legendary experimental theater auteur Richard Foreman. The space has so thoroughly established itself as an essential component of the arts community that it's easy to forget that this is still a functioning church. Largely recreated after a devastating 1978 fire, the site resonates with its two-hundred-something year history. Weathered, centuries-old graves skirt the Eastern edge of the property, some of them (such as Peter Stuyvesant's) predating the church itself.Arts at St. Mark's
The Poetry Project hosts an annual New Year's Day 11-hour reading that often features such downtown icons as Philip Glass and Patti Smith among its 100-plus participants. Richard Foreman's Ontological-Hysteric Theater presents mixed-media theatrical performances on the church's second floor.
Free tours of the church are available, by prior arrangement, with associate pastor Rev. Michael Relyea.